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A few days ago I went to see Revisionist historian David Irving, who was in Atlanta for a dinner meeting and speech (taped by cable TV’s C-SPAN). It was an interesting evening, one that has created an uproar in the press and among Jewish groups, with much of the coverage being partially inaccurate, misleading, and incomplete.
The subject was Irving’s lengthy and bitter court battle with Emory professor and Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt, who declined an invitation to appear on C-SPAN in a separate program in order to avoid any association with Irving. More than 500 historians have signed a petition asking C-SPAN not to air the Irving talk.
(Last Sunday, C-SPAN aired what may be its version of a compromise, running a program that featured short excerpts from talks by Lipstadt and Irving, with commentary by others.)
In his talk, Irving did not rant and rave and engage in hate-filled speech, but rather built his case calmly and methodically. His scholarly style was impressive; indeed, this is what makes his rhetoric so dangerous, and, unfortunately, believable to many people.
Addressing a few dozen people, Irving focused on his legal battle with Lipstadt, describing in detail how she and her lawyers had, in effect, destroyed his reputation and ruined his career.
Arrayed against him, he said, were some 40 solicitors and barristers (lawyers), historians, experts and consultants, funded by almost $3 million in donations raised for Lipstadt’s defense, in addition to the $7 million spent by her publisher, Penguin Books. (Lipstadt says her team was only half that large.) He charged that Lipstadt “took the Fifth” by refusing to take the stand and testify at her trial, on the advice of her lawyers.
He said he is not a “Holocaust denier” but “questions certain aspects of it.” He spoke of “the great Jewish tragedy of World War II,” and acknowledged that “unpleasant things happened to very large numbers of Jews killed at the camps.” He described mass shootings of Jews on the Eastern Front, which the British learned of contemporaneously through intercepted and decoded messages from the perpetrators. But that is about the extent of his concessions that there might have been a Holocaust.
Irving makes the most of the host of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and falsehoods that have been circulated about the Holocaust. For example, the official death toll at Auschwitz, long put at 4 to 4.5 million, has now been lowered by consensus to about 1.1 million. This reduction of some three million deaths created a propaganda windfall for the Revisionists, even though it does not affect the overall total of up to six million victims of the Holocaust.
Amazingly, Irving also disputes the fact that Auschwitz was “a factory of death,” and specifically the existence of gas chambers there. He claims that in a crematorium building said to contain the gas chambers (a building people visit there today), no one ever died.
In saying this, Irving relies on the fact that the original buildings containing the crematoria and gas chambers, along with much of the Auschwitz death camp records and infrastructure, were demolished or largely dismantled by rebelling inmates, or by the Germans to destroy evidence of mass murder. He claims, misleadingly, that the gas chamber building there now contains an air raid shelter, not a gas chamber, and that it was constructed by the Polish government after the war as a model of what was there previously.
The thing that struck me about Irving’s fascinating and skillfully delivered talk was how flimsy some of his arguments and “facts” are, and how easy it would be to refute them and discredit him.
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Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t
There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.
Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.
Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves
The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.
Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.
Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.
Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians
Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists
In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site
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The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps
Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.
Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell’s recent proclamation of Confederate History Month provoked a firestorm of criticism, with many accusing him and those who commemorate their Southern ancestors’ bravery of ignoring or even defending slavery.
This year, the second day of Chanukah will coincide with the 144th anniversary of the worst official act of anti-Semitism in American history.
BellSouth and other telecommunications companies, including Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Nextel Sprint, are also defendants in the lawsuit, accused of turning over “records” (but not the contents) of millions of their customers’ phone calls (which BellSouth denies doing).
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/holocaust-deniers-should-not-go-unchallenged/2005/04/06/
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