We­must­notbe in de­nial about the Holo­caust

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

THE WOMAN who fought one of the most high-pro­file Holo­caust de­nial le­gal cases claims it is on the rise and tak­ing on a new and dis­turb­ing form.

Prof Deb­o­rah Lipstadt iden­ti­fied the trend of equat­ing the Shoah with mod­ern-day events as a “soft-core” form of dene­grat­ing the Nazi geno­cide.

“It’s used po­lit­i­cally, glibly, and I don’t like it. It’s a grim, cheap way of get­ting to your point.

“It’s much more fre­quent than in the past. I don’t think there’s much we can do about it,” she said

Top­ics as wide-rang­ing as abor­tion, an­i­mal rights and sport­ing de­feats have been likened to the Shoah over the re­cent months.

Prof Lipstadt, 67, best known for win­ning a li­bel case brought by Holo­caust de­nier David Irv­ing in 2000, said this kind of equiv­a­lence was re­plac­ing more tra­di­tional Shoah re­jec­tion based on spu­ri­ous “his­tor­i­cal ev­i­dence”.

“The hard-core de­nial has suf­fered a real blow, in part be­cause of my trial and the ev­i­dence we had,” she said.

“But I see a lot more the soft-core de­nial, which is harder to pin down. Com­par­isons of Is­rael to the Nazis are ter­ri­ble and out­ra­geous, and most im­por­tantly, in­cor­rect. You can be­lieve that Is­rael was wrong to go into Gaza, but to call it a Holo­caust, is wrong.”

Nor was it right to liken the cur­rent rise in an­ti­semitism in Europe to con­di­tions in Nazi Ger­many.

“That said, am I dis­turbed and wor­ried? Of course. When a Sains­bury’s man­ager takes kosher food off shelves — it’s not an­ti­semitic, but you get wor­ried,” she said.

Prof Lipstadt, pro­fes­sor of mod­ern Jewish his­tory and Holo­caust Stud­ies at At­lanta’s Emory Univer­sity, will be in Bri­tain next week to de­liver a lec­ture on the most ap­pro­pri­ate meth­ods to re­mem­ber his­toric events when sur­vivors and wit­nesses have died.

A Bri­tish project set up by David Cameron ear­lier this year has fo­cused heav­ily on iden­ti­fy­ing ways to ed­u­cate future gen­er­a­tions about the Shoah.

Sug­ges­tions put for­ward for the Prime Min­is­ter’s Holo­caust Com­mis­sion have in­cluded film­ing sur­vivors’ telling their sto­ries, build­ing a me­mo­rial, or open­ing a mu­seum.

Any or all of those op­tions would be suc­cess­ful, said Prof Lipstadt, who has been called on by sev­eral Amer­i­can pres­i­dents to as­sist in Holo­caust me­mo­rial work.

She said: “There’s no one way to re­mem­ber. I some­times teach the Holo­caust through film, or a sur­vivor’s talk, or his­to­ri­ans’ records. Emo­tion­ally tug­ging at the heart-strings is not always nec­es­sary. There’s enough emo­tion in­her­ent in the Holo­caust.”

The loss of the re­main­ing sur­vivors in the years to come should not be seen as a turn­ing point, she added.

“One of the things demon­strated by my trial was that we didn’t use sur­vivors, we used his­to­ri­ans, for ev­i­dence. The de­niers will keep try­ing to do what they do whether there are sur­vivors or not.

“The doc­u­men­ta­tion we have is so rich and thick we don’t have to de­pend on sur­vivors. The Holo­caust has the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the best­doc­u­mented geno­cide in the world.” Prof Lipstadt will de­liver the 12th Isa­iah Ber­lin an­nual lec­ture at Hamp­stead Sy­n­a­gogue on Septem­ber 4

Vic­tory salute: Deb­o­rah Lipstadt cel­e­brates her li­bel win over David Irv­ing

PHOTO: AP

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