AGAINST PRESS FREEDOM : ERNST ZÜNDEL AND PARLIAMENTARISM
by Welf Herfurth and Tom Stanwell, March 27, 2007
As most readers know, the Holocaust revisionist Ernst Zündel was sentenced to five years jail by a German court - after being kidnapped, from America to Canada, held for two years without charge in a Canadian prison, under anti-terrorist legislation, and then deported to Germany, where he was charged with multiple counts of Holocaust denial. It is unknown, at this point, if the court will take into account time served. Predictably, the German media were hostile to Zündel and his defence team, but worried if the severity of the sentence - and the fact that freedom of speech on the Holocaust is illegal in Germany and around 30 states in Europe - would turn the 'Neo-Nazi' Zündel into a martyr.
The intention of this article is to look at the question of freedom of press, and freedom of speech, in nationalist ideology, in relation to cases like Zündel's. The repression of Holocaust revisionists and nationalists in the West is denounced, by nationalist activists, as being a violation of those two freedoms. Liberal democracies claim to be that - liberal - but, at the same time, censure and punish denials of the Holocaust, as well as expressions of racism. The hypocrisy of this position is pointed out by nationalists. While I agree that it is a contradiction, certainly, my argument here is to defend the likes of Zündel on different grounds from the liberal. That is, because our opponents are themselves illiberal, we do not need to become liberals in opposition to them.
I am unwilling to criticise the revisionists - who have suffered for their ideals, in the cause of both truth and nationalism - and their followers. But it must be said that their work suffers from an ideological deficiency, even an emptiness. Zündel, Rudolf, Graf, Faurisson and others write on contemporary political events, with great insight, not the least because of their experiences. But their politics, fundamentally, boils down to the view that once the truth about the Holocaust is revealed, the West, and the rest of the world oppressed by Zionism (or those acting as proxies for Zionism, e.g., the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan), will be free. It is, in fact, liberalism (as will be explained later). There is a lack of an intellectual, and even an ideological, basis in their writings. Which is ironic, given that the revisionists are accused by Jews as being part of a vast 'Neo-Nazi' underground, a conspiracy to introduce a 'Fourth Reich', and, by the peculiar Jewish logic, of justifying a future slaughter of the Jews by denying a past one. If any of these accusations were true, revisionism would be part of a political movement, and revisionists would be acting with a political intent. But it is the lack of a theoretical basis, leading to political action, which is a source of weakness in Holocaust revisionism, and much of contemporary Western nationalism.
The absence of an ideological center, in Holocaust revisionism and in unreflexive nationalism, means that both become easy prey for other, consistent, intellectually-worked ideologies. That is, because the Holocaust revisionist lacks an ideological center and ideological training, he will take on board the first ideological system that comes along, and spout its values. Hence the adoption of liberal rhetoric among the revisionists and the activists who support them: free speech is concomitant with democracy, we cannot have a liberal society without debate, etc. Just as the uneducated trade unionist will take up Marxist rhetoric and Marxist slogans, the revisionists take up liberalism, and nationalist activists are in perpetual danger of becoming liberals.
In the case of the trade unionist, Marxism does no harm; in the case of the nationalist, liberalism does a great deal of harm. For, in my opinion, liberalism is the source of all the problems which bedevil the nationalist so much: immigration, Zionism, the repression of Holocaust revisionism, bad economic policy and a host of other evils which are the product of, simply put, bad government. It is not that liberal ideology is a direct cause of, say, the repression of Holocaust revisionism; only that the adoption of a liberal political system will invariably lead to negative consequences, such as that repression. [...]
In this instance, the work of Carl Schmitt is useful, in particular, his book, The crisis of parliamentary democracy (1923). The second chapter in that book - 'The principles of parliamentarism' - outlines the ideology of what Schmitt calls 'parliamentarism'. He expounds the view that parliamentarism is an offshoot of liberalism, which is itself a complete view of the world, a weltanschauung, even a metaphysical system (no matter what its proponents say). Liberalism sees the world as being made up of free and independent individuals. In the economic sphere, these individuals compete with one another in the market, selling their goods and services. The individual who is most successful - that is, who earns the most patronage from the consumer - wins. Even though some individuals lose out in the struggle, overall, the clash of competing interests leads to a greater harmony, a greater equilibrium, a greater balance.
Does liberalism apply in the purely political sphere, outside of the marketplace? The answer, says Schmitt, is yes. Parliament is itself an instance of this clash of individuals’ wills which, in the end, leads to equilibrium. But the contest is not a market one: it is a contest of ideas. The essence of political liberalism is free and open discussion of ideas and opinions between free and independent individuals, and the willingness of those individuals to be persuaded. From that debate, the 'truth' emerges - truth emerges from the great debate, the never-ending discussion, that takes place in parliament.
Following the French thinker Guizot, Schmitt lists three characteristics of the parliamentarist system:
1. that "the powers" are always forced to discuss and thereby seek the truth together;
2. that the openness of the whole of political life places "the powers" under the citizens' control; and
3. that press freedom prompts citizens to seek the truth for themselves and to make it known to "the powers". Parliament is accordingly the place in which particles of reason that are strewn unequally among human beings gather thesemlves and bring public power under control. (Carl Schmitt, The crisis of parliamentary democracy, p.35).
He adds, 'Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, freedom of discussion, are.. really life-and-death questions for liberalism' (p.36).
The rationale behind the secret ballot is that one's voting choices must remain private - that is, they are the expression of a private, free individual. Again, from conflicting individual interests, conflicting private opinions, a harmony, a balance, emerges. Through voting, the people find truth - or rather, they elect representatives who find truth for them through open debate in parliament. (Schmitt notes - and this is an important point - that democracy does not necessarily depend on the practice of elections. The sum of voters is not the sum of the people).
Liberalism and parliamentarism is the source of the structure of our modern political system. For instance, the concept of the separation of powers, or the division (or balance) of powers, in the representative assemblies, finds its justification in liberalism. That the American legislature, executive and judiciary should be made up of individuals from different parties is seen as good by the liberal media: it represents the division of power, in which no single party or institution wields an absolute total of power. And that the same divisions repeat themselves, not only at the American federal, but at the state level - at the level of the state executive, legislature and judiciary - is praiseworthy. Why? Because the multiplicity of opinions, the clash of opinions in a free and open discussion is taking place at every level.
Parliament becomes a forum for debate, for clashing opinions, for free and open discussion - and for finding the truth. The rules of the game are that every participant in the debate respects one another: that the other participant has the right to speak, and speak freely, because this is the only way that truth can emerge. A participant with a 'totalising' truth - for instance, the Marxist, who believes that truth has already been arrived at in the works of Lenin and Trotsky, and not through debate - is not welcome. Or, if he is to be allowed into the parliament, he must agree to respect the rules.
One can see, from this, how important a free press is. It provides another venue for free and open discussion. As well as that, through publicity, it reveals truth. Free reporting exposes secret government business (or secret corporate business) to the glare of publicity, exposing the truth. Hence the lauding of the work of crusading investigative journalists like Woodward and Bernstein, who exposed to the world the Nixon administration's nefarious doings. The saying that a free press is concomitant to a democracy, to a free and liberal society, has become one of the clichés of our age, if not a dogma, spouted by liberal ideologists and more often by journalists themselves.
We can see that the liberal and parliamentarist doctrine is reflected in the work of the Holocaust revisionists and the activists who fight for them. Holocaust revisionists have a (perhaps naive) view of the value of publicity - that is, the exposure, for all the world to see, of the hoax of the Holocaust shall set the world free. All that would need to be done is for the laws banning Holocaust revisionism in Europe to be repealed, and Europeans would find the truth for themselves. In the calamitous uproar which would follow the revelation of the truth of the Holocaust, the obsessively pro-Zionist, philo-Semitic liberal democratic politicians of Europe, and the West, would be forced to recognise the error of their ways. This view is, in fact, the liberal and parliamentarist view of the value of truth, publicity and the free press.
Likewise, the ultimate justification for Holocaust revisionism - or rather, the right to deny the Holocaust - lies in the liberal doctrine of free speech. If society is made up of free individuals who are to be allowed to express their opinion, in newspaper articles, political demonstrations and in parliamentary debates, then Holocaust revisionists ought to be allowed to do the same. Indeed, the tolerance of Holocaust revisionism is a litmus test for a free society, because many individuals have been conditioned to look at revisionism with revulsion.
So what is wrong with this: what is wrong with using liberal doctrines to justify the practice of Holocaust revisionism? The answer is that liberalism, as a doctrine, is simply false. As Schmitt writes:
Discussion means an exchange of opinion that is governed by the purpose of persuading one's opponent through argument of the truth or justice of something, or allowing oneself to be persuaded of something true or just.... The characteristic of all representative constitutions is that laws arise out of a conflict of opinions (not out of a struggle of interests). To discussion belong shared convictions as premises, the willingness to be persuaded, independence of party ties, freedom from selfish interests. Most people today would regard such disinterestedness as scarcely possible. (Schmitt, Crisis, 'Preface to the second edition (1926)', p.5).
Most of Schmitt's attacks on parliamentarism in this book are in that vein. That is, parliamentarism, or liberalism, does not work the way it should anymore, if it ever did. Parliament is hostage to 'invisible powers', representatives of the unions, big business, the Jewish lobby, and the like - and those representatives are not, for one, willing to be persuaded. The real government business - like the kidnapping, deportation of Ernst Zündel, and even the outcome of his trial - is done behind closed doors.
One can still uphold parliamentarism as the best system, the best available at the present time. But if that is all we have as a justification for a system - that the only justification we have for it is a purely pragmatic one, that we should keep it simply because it continues to work, and work well - then that system is lost, and we can no longer believe in its validity. (Schmitt compares the present loss of belief in parliamentarism to the waning away of the belief in the divine right of kings).
But the implications of a lack of belief in the value of parliamentarism are manifold. For one, the institutions of parliament - freedom and speech and immunity for parliamentary representives, the openness of parliamentary proceedings, the declassification of cabinet minutes after thirty years, the freedom of information act and so on - lose their meaning. And likewise, liberal beliefs, practices and institutions - the separation of powers, the value of balance of conflicting opinions and interests, and all the other legal and constitutional traits of a liberal order (which have been described in Schmitt's book but not been detailed here) - lose their meaning. So the effect of Schmitt's criticisms (and the criticisms of other opponents of liberal parliamentarism, i.e., communist groups) is that the sacred cows of our present system of liberal democracy - free and fair elections, parliament and parliamentary procedures, free press and free speech - lose their sacred qualities.
Many nationalists feel this already, of course. They feel, for instance, that the liberal media in the West is not so liberal - that it is in the service of 'hidden powers'. The Australian public-owned broadcasting TV channel SBS, for instance, failed to mention the Zündel sentencing on the day that it occurred, choosing instead to focus on the death of a minor Vichy-era French official who may or may not have been responsible for sending thousands of French Jews Auschwitz for gassing and cremation. The entire Western media constantly keeps the atrocities of the Germans in WWII (real or alleged) in the public eye, around the clock, and is not even interested in ideological balance. (For instance, the death of an American soldier who worked as a guard at one of Eisenhower's death camps in occupied France, or a Polish communist official who oversaw the ethnic cleansing of millions of Germans, would hardly be remarked upon).
But this applies in other areas of political reporting as well. Take, for instance, the press' uniform acceptance of the Bush administration's contention that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were responsible for 9/11; or Bush's declaration of 'victory' three weeks into the Iraq war; or that it was Saddam Hussein who had been 'captured hiding' in an abandoned farm house in Tikrit. In each of these cases (and many others), some real investigative reporting, or at least some questioning of the official line, was called for. Had the Americans really conquered Iraq in three weeks? Was the man the Americans claimed to have 'captured' really Saddam Hussein? Did Bin Laden really carry out 9/11? Are the daily communiques from 'Al Qaeda' genuine, or the product of a Western intelligence agency? Perhaps, in each of these cases, the Bush administration could have been exposed to the unpleasant glare of publicity, the truth could have been made known to the masses, a la Woodward and Bernstein. But no. The truth is that the Western media is equally as totalitarian, and supine before State power, as much as the Chinese or North Korean media is. And the same can be said, by extension, for academia, the entertainment industry. All seem to be under the same central control, or at least, subscribing to the same ideology. Even the self-professed alternatives to that mainstream ideology - for instance, Noam Chomsky, or Michael Moore - strenuously deny, or refuse to mention, the existence of a Jewish lobby in the United States which influences the latter's foreign policy in the Middle East (hence, the radical Chomsky is allotted front-page space in the Guardian newspaper).
All of this is well-known to nationalists: our lack of belief in the freedom of press is as pronounced as that of the Marxist's. The question is what attitude we should take. We can demand, along with those who still believe in liberalism, a truly free press, which gives equal space to Robert Faurisson and a publicist for the Jewish lobby on the same op-ed page; or one can give up on the possibility of there ever being a free press altogether.
I myself subscribe to the latter view. If liberalism, and parliamentarism, has no longer any value, then the concept of a free press no longer has value - it is no longer an ideal we should strive towards. On top of that, the notion of a mainstream Western newspaper ever even considering granting op-ed space to the likes of Faurisson is unlikely - it would take a miracle. Or rather, it would take a cataclysmic revolution in which the Jewish lobby would itself cease to exist as a political force (and hence, there would be no need to grant its agitators 'equal time' in the media).
I am a nationalist before I am a liberal - not a nationalist liberal. My own immediate reaction, on seeing yet another nonsensical Holocaust story on the nightly news, is as follows. Under a nationalist government, all journalists should be made to join a national journalist's union. Membership in that union would require that they refrain from peddling their daily dose of multi-racialist, philo-Semitic, German-hating pap; any journalists who refuse to join will lose their jobs. That system, of managing the news, would be not that different from our existing one, except that such a journalist's union (which, contrary to our hypothetical nationalist one, requires journalists to report constantly on the Holocaust, or denounce the Ku Klux Klan, or denounce apartheid, etc.) is invisible; it has no official existence, although it is constantly making itself felt. The rule is that anything that is untrue - and the Holocaust is untrue - and that anything which is destructive to the long-term survival and health of the Western Christian civilisation ought to be suppressed as ruthlessly as any Holocaust revisionism, etc., today is suppressed.
And here we are straying into a grey and murky area. The doctrine that a press should no longer be 'free', that it should serve a political purpose (in our case, a nationalist purpose) - could be anathema to most nationalists. This is because most nationalist and Holocaust revisionist activists are used to being persecuted by the State and its organs. The fact that they receive no help from groups claiming to uphold civil liberties - like Amnesty International, or Human Rights Watch - does not diminish their appetite for liberalism. Indeed, the repression of freedom of speech, in the European countries which ban Holocaust denial, for instance, is held by some nationalist activists to be the manifestation of a new leftist totalitarianism, a new Marxism, which, in the past two decades, has seized power through social democratic and communist parties and hence undermined liberalism and liberal democracy. Many backward-looking Far Right populist parties look nostalgically to the Europe of the 1950s and the 1960s when one could deny the Holocaust with impunity (even in West Germany) and discuss racial and immigration questions openly. So the suggestion that the 'rights' of journalists should be curtailed, that the institution of a 'free press' be attacked, would rankle some nationalists, and understandably so.
But this is, I believe, shows a misunderstanding of the nationalist ideology. Liberalism's view of freedom is negative: it denies the right of government to interfere in the private sphere of individuals, or at least, seeks to limit that interference to the bare minimum. Many nationalists, unfortunately, only desire that negative freedom: that is, all they want is the freedom to vent their animus against non-white immigrants, indigenous Australians, North American Indians, the Jewish lobbyist, and politically-correct Marxists and multiculturalists - and that is all. Their nationalism cannot be said to be a striving for something: for a better world order, for example, a real improvement in the life of the race they belong to. Their position can be characterised as a reactionary liberalism, a backward-looking liberalism.
Other nationalists, however, do want a better world and do have positive ideals. But, it is argued here, in order to achieve those ideals, it must be recognised that they cannot be achieved in a liberal and parliamentarian political order. The reasons for this are apparent once we examine the tenets of liberalism closely. At the ideological level, liberalism upholds the equality of all human beings: that is, all humans are politically equal simply by virtue of their being adult persons. But an ideology which gives a unskilled, illiterate Mexican immigrant to the United States the same value as a literate, skilled American proletarian or bourgeois is really the antithesis of nationalism; it and nationalism cannot co-exist. Likewise, the parliamentarian system, of selecting leaders and representing the people, is the antithesis of nationalism. Certain policies are popular with the people - for instance, a cessation of non-white immigration, or the reintroduction of the death penalty for child rapists and sex murderers - but parties which uphold such policies are consistently voted down, or never receive the votes they need. This is because, in part, of the voting process itself. The secret ballot system forces voters to think of themselves, not as members of a community, but as private individuals with private economic interests - despite the fact that they are voting on matters of public law which pertains to public matters.
The problem is, in part, a procedural, and a legal and constitutional one. It is no good having political ideals if the means of bringing them into reality - parliamentarism - is flawed. The ideals of nationalism - a positive nationalism - are, at bottom, not so complicated. The nationalist, in the last analysis, wants a community with a high standard of living, safe and pleasant cities and towns to live and work, a healthy and uplifting cultural life, a society in which ugliness and squalor are removed, a community where the members feel a sense of belonging with one another and care for one another while at the same time respecting one another's autonomy. These values are not so controversial, and even liberal democratic politicians would agree that they are desirable. The main difference between the nationalist, and the believer in mainstream liberal democracy, is that the latter believes that goals such as civic cleanliness and safety, and an increase in the standard of living, can be achieved alongside, for example, massive non-white immigration and the abolition of the death penalty. Hence the absurd spectacle of the social democratic, left-liberal politician who advocates an increase funding for the arts and better urban planning while, at the same time, advocating policies which increase squalor and ugliness. (In Sydney, Australians are faced with the irony of having the Sydney Opera House - a famous and distinctive Australian cultural monument - located a few metres away from an enclave of homeless heroin addicts. The urban centre of Sydney is itself populated with an enormous number of Asian immigrants who certainly feel no connection, no sense of cultural kinship, with the Western culture which produces the operas and ballets performed at the Opera House, and neither can the abusive, drunken, uneducated Aboriginals who live in nearby suburbs).
Why is this? The answer, in this case, is that the social democrat is a socialist, and a believer in the power of government to improve the standard of living of its citizens - economically, socially, culturally. But, at the same time, he is a liberal: individuals should be allowed to do what they want, so long as they are not breaking the law. Drunken Aboriginals, the homeless heroin addicts, the beggars in our urban centres, non-white immigrants, all have rights - as does the film-maker who glorifies interracial couplings. Child rapists may have broken the law, but even they must be supported, at the taxpayer's expense, for the rest of their lives in jail instead of being executed - for execution would be inhumane. And so it goes. Social democracy, because of its subscription to parliamentarism (the 'democracy' in 'social democracy') , invariably ends up removing government policy of any common sense and decency, and making day to day living, especially in the cities, uglier and harder.
So the answer is: in order to achieve nationalist goals, the existing liberal and parliamentarian order must be overturned. We must stop pretending that we are liberals, no matter how attractive some of its ideals may seem. I myself have been to nationalist conferences which have come under attack from both political authorities and anti-racist activists. Commonly, participants will defend the right of that conference take place in the name of the liberal right of freedom of speech. Such sloganeering has real power, undoubtably. But we nationalists must ask ourselves: are we nationalists undertaking such events in the name of freedom and liberalism, or because we seek to improve the lives of the fellow members of our community, our nation? The question answer itself.
German media commentators often call for the banning of German nationalist organisations like the NPD in the name of 'democracy' (i.e., liberal democracy). They claim that, while the likes of the NPD demand the protection of their rights as a political organisation in the name of liberalism, they are opposed to liberalism. (They would oppose the freedom of Turkish immigrants to live in Germany, for example). So, paradoxically, the German liberal democratic State must be illiberal to be liberal, and ban the German nationalist groups and wipe them out.
Those commentators are right, in one respect: liberalism and nationalism are ultimately incompatible (although nationalism and democracy are not, as Schmitt argues in his book). In the end, one must go. Nationalists cannot, in Germany, for example, agitate against 'democracy' directly - that is forbidden under law. (Probably, 'democracy' could be agitated against in Germany, but that would require a lawyer's knowledge of the German constitution. In any case, the defenders of 'liberal democracy' can always twist a constitution to say whatever they want). But the works of Carl Schmitt, for example, are still legal in countries like Germany which have 'anti-anti-democratic' laws. Liberalism, and parliamentarism, can still be assaulted intellectually, and that is where we must begin.
*Welf Herfurth is a political activist who lives in Sydney / Australia. He was born and raised in Germany. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
BERLIN: A German court gave five far-right supporters in eastern Germany nine-month suspended sentences on Thursday for ceremonially burning a copy of the diary of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
The five men, aged between 24 and 29, were found guilty of incitement and desecration of the dead by a court in the eastern town of Schoenebeck. Two other defendants were acquitted for lack of evidence.
The incident took place in February of last year during a summer solstice celebration in the eastern German village of Pretzien near Magdeburg.
According to news reports, one of the men cast the diary into the flames and said: "I commit Anne Frank to the fire," borrowing words used by the Nazis in 1933. They also burned an American flag.
The gathering, which is estimated to have been attended by more than a hundred people, was organised by the Heimat Bund Ostelbien – a group that grew out of an earlier right-wing group in the area, according to the interior ministry of the eastern state of Saxony Anhalt.
One defendant admitted having thrown the book into the fire, saying he had acted alone. The man argued that he had not intended to trivialize Anne Frank's death but rather wanted to get rid of an "evil chapter" of German history.
Known in English as Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl, the journal chronicles the Jewish girl's two-year period in hiding in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.
The secret annex she lived in with her family was raided in 1944, after which she was taken to Germany's Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died at the age of 15. The diary became one of the world's most widely read books after it was published in 1947.
Jewish groups in Germany have warned in recent weeks of an increase in anti-Semitic violence.
On March 1, right-wingers threw a burning object through the window of a Jewish nursery school in Berlin and defaced the building with anti-Semitic graffiti, drawing condemnation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
5 guilty of burning Anne Frank's book
IANS, Posted Friday , March 09, 2007
Magdeburg (Germany): A court in Magdeburg, Germany, convicted five men of sedition on Thursday for throwing a copy of Anne Frank's "Diary" into a bonfire last year at a community party organised by neo-Nazis.
The men were each handed a suspended sentence of nine months' imprisonment. The court in Magdeburg also convicted the men, aged 24 to 29, of insulting the memory of the dead. Their lawyer said they would appeal.
The Summer Solstice Party last summer in the small town of Pretzien caused uproar in Germany after it was revealed that the town mayor and police were also present and saw nothing wrong in the burning of the book and a US flag amid applause by torch-waving neo-Nazis. Local policemen claimed they had never heard of Frank.
Frank, a Jewish girl who died of typhus fever in 1945 at the age of 15 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, is a figure of hatred to Holocaust deniers because of her compelling story of life in hiding in Amsterdam before her capture by the Nazis.
Denying the Holocaust is punishable in Germany with up to five years' jail as sedition.
Judge Eicke told the accused that burning Frank's book and calling it "alien" was the same thing as publicly approving the Holocaust.
"You insulted Anne Frank's human dignity," he told them. "That is overt racism." He said the bonfire was an echo of a public burning by Nazis in Berlin in 1933 of books they intended to censor.
The director of the Anne Frank Centre in Berlin, Thomas Heppener, welcomed the ruling and praised the judge's "spectacular speech" to the accused.
Holocaust denial lost respect, writer says. The professor testified in a trial that helped make that happen.
By CHARLIE PATTON, The Times-Union
In 1968, when Christopher Browning decided to write his doctoral thesis about the Holocaust, his academic adviser warned him that "there's no academic future in researching the Holocaust."
The adviser was wrong. Interest in the Holocaust grew steadily in the 1970s, fueled by several developments, among them the decision to create a Holocaust museum in the United States and the success of a celebrated television miniseries in 1978.
As Holocaust interest increased, it also spawned the rise in the late 1970s of Holocaust denial, Browning told an audience at the University of North Florida on Wednesday night.
Holocaust denial is still with us, as demonstrated by the Iranian government, which in December sponsored the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust.
But Holocaust denial has at least lost the thin veneer of respectability it sought in the 1980s when, Browning said, the more literate deniers sought to "camouflage themselves as academics."
Browning, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, played an important role in that. The author of two critically acclaimed books about the Holocaust, he served as an expert witness in a celebrated libel trial that put the practice of history and the reality of the Holocaust on trial.
The trial came about because of a claim of libel by David Irving, a British historian whose sympathetic books about Hitler and the Third Reich were treated with respect during the 1980s, before he became open about his anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Irving was outed in a 1993 book by historian Deborah Lipstadt.
He sued Lipstadt for libel in England, where laws put the burden of proof on the defendant. So attorneys for her and her publisher set out to prove that Irving was a liar. "They decided to put Irving on trial and convict him of historical malpractice," Browning said.
Browning was one of four academic experts hired by the defense team. He wrote an 80-page report and then spent two days in 2000 testifying in London. Irving lost the verdict and was required to pay $3 million in court costs.
One of the core principles of support for the Palestinians is opposition to racism. How is it possible, therefore, to support the Palestinians and oppose Zionism on the one hand and then adopt a political position that is anti-Semitic?
Zionism and anti-Semitism are two sides of the same coin. It was little wonder that Hitler gave no support to the Arab rebellion of 1936-9. The Arabs were even more untermenschen (lower race) than the Jews! The idea that the Palestinians may gain a victory by adopting anti-Semitism is absurd and can only play into the hands of the Zionists who will say 'there, we told you so.'
In fact the Palestinians are the secondary victims of European anti-Semitism. Yet in the past few years, an organisation Deir Yassin Remembered has become more and more anti-Semitic.
When Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions resigned from DYR’s Board. He wrote that:
The entire point of DYR is to honor the memory of the Palestinians massacred by pre-Israel Jewish militias. To cast all "Jews" as perpretrators of such heinous crimes is racist and deflects entirely from the issue of Deir Yassin itself. To turn the Deir Yassin tragedy into a discussion of Jewish racial characteristics, to dirty it with racist discourse… raises serious, fundamental questions.
Veteran Israeli anti-Zionists, Lea Tsemel and Michael Warschawski also resigned from DYR because:
During a recent tour in the US, we discovered that Israel Shamir has been included in the advisory board of DYR. There is no room for a racist in an institution aimed to fight for the memory of the Deir Yassin victims of ethnic cleansing and massacre
In ‘Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir’ Palestinians Ali Abunimah & Hussein Ibish described how:
Yesterday we received an "Easter Message" from Shamir in which he repeats the most odious characterizations of Jews as "Christ killers," the staple of classic European Christian anti-Semitism.
Who is Israel Shamir? Why was he appointed ‘advisor’ to DYR?
The resignations above were triggered off when Israel Shamir joined the DYR Board. Recently he has been in dialogue with Lee Barnes, legal advisor to the British National Party, an overtly racist and fascist organisation in Britain, whose hatred of Muslims is second to none. They also don't like Jews very much either! But Shamir, quite ludicrously, criticised the BNP for being pro-Jewish!!
I do not feel at ease accusing you and your comrades of betraying the Britons and joining with the Jews, but if I'd keep mum, stones won't. I'd publish your response, and I hope you'll spread mine among your readers and members.
Shamir is also a Holocaust denier. About Auschwitz he wrote that it was:
an internment facility, attended by the Red Cross… This idea of "bombing Auschwitz" makes sense only if one accepts the vision of "industrial extermination factory. http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Who_Needs.htm
Why does this matter? Because the Holocaust has and is being used to justify the Naqba, the confiscation of land and all the other terrible crimes Zionism has committed. The idea that if you deny the Holocaust then the Israeli state loses its legitimacy is absurd.
Israel exists as a settler colonial state because the United States and the western powers choose to support it as a settler colonial state. The Holocaust is merely a form of ideological legitimation. When Eisen says of holocaust deniers that 'I did (and do) find their case compelling.' what he is saying is he finds the political equivalent of flat earthism compelling. Far from weakening Zionism you strengthen it immeasurably.
And what has Paul Eisen’s Holocaust Wars a tribute to neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel, recently sentenced to 5 years in a German prison, got to do with support of the Palestinians? If Eisen wants to embark on a futile quest to prove that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz, then fine. But don't do it on the back of the Palestinians. And when Eisen writes that
Ernst Zündel was not the only German who loved Hitler and is probably not the only German who still loves Hitler. Millions of Germans loved Hitler who for twelve years impacted on them as no German has or probably ever will… http://www.israelshamir.net/friends/Contributor13.htm what he is doing is praising a National Socialist party that not only murdered Jews, but gays, gypsies and trade unionists. If trade unions in Britain understand that supporters of the Palestinians are now becoming holocaust deniers, then they will transfer their support back to the Zionists.
Recently Eisen wrote that "the evidence for the use of homicidal gas-chambers is not good at all. The evidence against it is much, much stronger." http://www.haloscan.com/comments/thecutter/117192641046077827/
Likewise Dan McGowen, DYR’s Executive Director, having visited Zündel wrote that:
‘Ernst Zündel is neither a monster nor a heretic. He is a man with strong convictions and the courage to express them. He views himself not as a Holocaust "denier," but rather as a Holocaust revisionist?
This is the reason why Jews Against Zionism have chosen to make a stand inside Britain's Palestine Solidarity Campaign against Deir Yassin Remembered. We want to remember this terrible massacre but we don't want it sullied by association with those who committed even more horrific massacres.
* Tony Greenstein is a founding member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a member of Jews Against Zionism- UK.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Moving more quickly than expected, the 11-nation body overseeing a long-secret archive of Nazi war records set procedures in motion to open millions of files on concentration camps and their victims before the end of this year, mindful that within a year 10 percent of all Holocaust survivors may be dead.
The governing commission of the International Tracing Service, the storehouse of an estimated 30 million to 50 million pages documenting history's worst genocide, concluded a two-day meeting Thursday with a set of recommendations for copying and transferring files to Holocaust institutions to be used by survivors, victims' relatives and World War II scholars.
The recommendations must be adopted at a formal meeting of the 11 countries in May.
Before the material can be accessed, however, all the member countries must ratify an agreement adopted last year to end the 60-year ban against using the files for research.
"I am hopeful this will happen in 2007," said J. Christian Kennedy, the special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, who led the U.S. delegation.
"We got what we wanted, and that was to key this up" for the May meeting, enabling the release of documents by year's end.
Earlier, some officials had said it could take several years for all countries to move the agreement through their parliaments for ratification.
Israel, the United States, Poland and the Netherlands have completed ratification.
Germany, Britain and Luxembourg told the meeting they would ratify before the commission meets again in May. National elections in France and Belgium could cause delays in those countries, officials said, and the status in Italy and Greece was unclear.
The files, stored in Bad Arolsen, Germany, have been used since the 1950s to help locate missing persons or uncover the fate of people who fell into the maw of the Third Reich. Later, they were used to validate claims for compensation.
Only personnel of the Tracing Service, an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross, had access to the files, which fill 16 linear miles (26 kms) of space in gray metal filing cabinets and in cardboard binders in six nondescript buildings in the central German resort town.
After this week's meeting, the process of opening the files "is irreversible," said Reto Meister, the director of the Tracing Service, who briefed the commission on the archive's preparations to share the files.
In a key move, the 11 delegations agreed the Tracing Service should begin electronically transferring scanned files before the ratification process is complete, Meister told The Associated Press.
Institutions on the receiving end, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel's Yad Vashem memorial, will need several months to integrate the data and get them ready for public use.
Much discussion focused on the timetable of ratification. At one point, when several countries moved back their estimated time frames, "I got up and reminded them that in one year 10 percent of survivors will die," said Paul Shapiro, director of the Washington museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.
While much has been written about the Holocaust, scholars say the Bad Arolsen files will fill in gaps in history and provide a unique perspective gained from seeing original Nazi letters, the minutia of the concentration camps' structures, slave labor records and uncounted testimonies of victims and ordinary Germans who witnessed the brutality of the Gestapo.
About 12 million people -- half of them Jews -- were systematically exterminated by the Nazis, and tens of millions more were incarcerated, displaced or forced to work for the German war machine. The Bad Arolsen archives index 17.5 million names that appear in its files, making them the world's most complete record of individual suffering by Jews and non-Jews.
In the last 60 years the Tracing Service has responded to 11 million requests from survivors and their families, but the overwhelming number of inquiries led to delays lasting years and resulted in only the sketchiest of replies. Once the files are available in Washington, Jerusalem and other locations, survivors will be able to search for information under the normal rules of each archive.
Meister said the collection of documents on concentration camp incarcerations -- some 13 million pages of death registers, transportation lists and camp registries -- will be ready in June. The rest of the documents will be scanned and transferred within a year.
Germany, which funds the Tracing Service, agreed to increase its allocation beginning next year to help offset the 2.4 million euro ($3.2 million) needed to speed up the digitization and transfer of files. The U.S. Holocaust Museum also will provide an unspecified amount, Kennedy said.
A new book by an Italo-Israeli scholar of Jewish history that revisits violent controversies involving medieval and Renaissance Christians and Jews has been withdrawn from circulation at the request of the author, who now says that news accounts distort what he actually says.
The scholar, Ariel Toaff, is a professor of medieval and Renaissance history at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, in Ramat Gan. His book, Pasque di sangue: Ebrei d'Europa e omicidi rituali (Passovers of Blood: European Jews and Ritual Homicides), drew strong criticism from Jewish community leaders and academic critics when it was published this month, in Italian, by Il Mulino, a publishing house in Bologna, Italy.
A new book by an Italo-Israeli scholar of Jewish history that revisits violent controversies involving medieval and Renaissance Christians and Jews has been withdrawn from circulation at the request of the author, who now says that news accounts distort what he actually says.
The scholar, Ariel Toaff, is a professor of medieval and Renaissance history at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, in Ramat Gan. His book, Pasque di sangue: Ebrei d'Europa e omicidi rituali (Passovers of Blood: European Jews and Ritual Homicides), drew strong criticism from Jewish community leaders and academic critics when it was published this month, in Italian, by Il Mulino, a publishing house in Bologna, Italy....
The author denies that his book suggests that Jews during the Middle Ages and Renaissance might actually have sacrificed Christian children, saying that idea was a misinterpretation of his work that emerged in newspaper articles even before his book was published.
"If people read the first chapters of my book, they will understand exactly how I refer to the ritual homicides as lies," he told The Chronicle on Thursday.
He said that his intention in analyzing confessions extracted by torture was to "reconstruct the mentality" of the Jews condemned for these crimes, a mentality characterized by a "very vigorous and very justified hostility toward the Christians."
Explaining why he withdrew the book, Mr. Toaff said that his first duty was to tamp down the controversy. "When I became aware that my explanations had no effect with a press that was nourishing a theme that every day became more dangerous for the Jewish people," he said, "I decided it was my duty to do two things: first, to block the book; secondarily, to take an action to show that it was not done, at least not by me, with intention to profit. So I renounced all proceeds. I won't make a lira from this, and those proceeds will go to the struggle against anti-Semitism." [The profits will go, he says, to the Anti-Defamation League in New York.]
Even the judgments of expert reviewers in Italy had been influenced by unfavorable advance publicity, Mr. Toaff said. "They found themselves having above all to disqualify a text that lent itself to those interpretations" that the ritual murders had actually occurred. "No one would want to praise the book if that meant seeming to praise the interpretations that had already been made of it."
Mr. Toaff said that he hopes eventually to recast the book, but he added that "my basic error was to think that a subject of this kind could be addressed in an antiseptic, scientific manner. Instead, it's not possible because it's linked to so many emotions, so many memories, and so many associations, including with recent events that have happened to our people."
Update on Jeremy Jones v Fredrick Töben
Please be advised that on 8 March 2007, at 8:30am, Adelaide time - 9:00am Sydney time - the following transpired per video link-up in the Federal Court of Australia, Sydney and Adelaide:
1. In Sydney, Justice Moore heard from Jeremy Jones' counsel, Steven Lewis, that he had failed to make contact with Fredrick Töben’s Melbourne barrister, David Perkins, though this was not for lack of trying.
2. Justice Moore then hear from Töben who stated that the submitted Affidavit of 5 March 2007 indicates that he can present matters of fact, especially about the shifting and developing 'Holocaust' story, but that he could not embed this within a legal framework because for that he needs a competent legal person.
3. Justice Moore stated that he is reluctant to interfere with the proposed May date, and that the Holocaust matter may not be relevant to the issue before him. However, he indicated that legal representation is essential in this matter. He stated that his associate had spoken with Mr Perkins, something that surprised Mr Lewis who had himself been trying, without success, to speak with Mr Perkins.
4. Justice Moore proposed that a tentative timetable be worked out to get the matter on its way. He leafed through his diary and proposed 28 September, a date deemed unsuitable by Mr Lewis on account of his client then observing his religious holiday. Thursday 27 September was likewise unsuitable. Justice Moore then settled that two days would be set aside for this matter on 24-25 September 2007.
5. So as to retain a focus on the matter Justice Moore also fixed Monday, 21 May 2007, for the next directions hearing.
6. More information presently at http://www.adelaideinstitute.org/ -click on REPORTS then follow links.
7. Your financial support in this matter is much appreciated.
Sent: Tuesday, 3 April 2007
Subject: Help Dr. Fredrick Töben; Help Free Speech - online video
RIGHT-click on the links and select "save target as" to download video clip to avoid any buffering problems, or you may also click directly on the link to view the video.
LARGE VIDEO (26 MB)
SMALL VIDEO (8 MB)
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