by Alex Grobman & Rafael Medoff
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Holocaust-deniers in the United States continued their efforts to gain a measure of respectability in 2004, and benefitted from the willingness of several individuals of prominence to associate with them. Peter Gemma, a former senior staff member of the Pat Buchanan 2000 presidential campaign, spoke at a Holocaust-deniers’ meeting; a newsletter edited by pundit Alexander Cockburn defended imprisoned Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel; and Hutton Gibson again publicly denied the Holocaust, while his son, actor Mel Gibson, declined to clearly dissociate himself from his father’s views.
Some Arab governments continued to actively promote Holocaust-denial in 2004, and a Holocaust-denier emerged as the leading candidate for chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority.
At the same time, a number of Western governments and other institutions took important steps against Holocaust-deniers. The Canadian government sought to deport Ernst Zundel; the government of New Zealand denied entry to David Irving; the French government brought charges against Bruno Gollnisch; Harvard University returned a gift from an Arab leader who promoted Holocaust-denial, and The Nation magazine said it would no longer accept advertisements from Holocaust-deniers. Most notably, U.S. intervention brought about the first-ever public disavowal of Holocaust-denial by an Egyptian government official.
Alex Grobman, Ph.D., president of the Institute for Contemporary Jewish Life and the Brenn Institute, is co-author (with Michael Sherman) of Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? and author of Rekindling the Flame: Jewish Chaplains in the U.S. Army and the Survivors of the Holocaust and Battling For Souls: The Vaad Hatzala Rescue Committee in Post-War Europe. He was the founding director of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center , and served as director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles where he was the founding editor-in chief of the Simon Wiesenthal Annual. He edited Genocide: Critical Issues of the Holocaust; Anne Frank in Historical Perspective; and Those Who Dared: Rescuers and Rescued.
Rafael Medoff, Ph.D., is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. He is associate editor of the scholarly journal American Jewish History and Visiting Scholar at Purchase College – The State University of New York. He is the author of seven books on the Holocaust, Zionism, and the history of American Jewry, the most recent of which (co-authored with David S. Wyman) is A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust. His essays have appeared in numerous scholarly journals, encyclopedias, and other reference volumes, including Holocaust & Genocide Studies, the Journal of Genocide Research, and Holocaust Studies Annual.
William Baker, former chairman of the extremist Populist Party, which was established by Holocaust-denier Willis Carto, spoke at a conference on “Reviving the Islamic Spirit,” in Toronto on January 3, 2004. Baker is currently head of a California-based organization called “Christians and Muslims for Peace.”
Mobina Jaffer, a state senator from British Columbia who is a Muslim, announced on January 8, 2004, that she is resigning as a columnist for the weekly Muslim newspaper The Miracle, because it published an article accusing Jews of fabricating the Holocaust and causing both world wars, among other things. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 9, 2004]
Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel, who has been in prison in Canada for more than a year, continued his legal battle to prevent his deportation to Germany after Canada declared him to be a danger to Canadian society. Zundel was arrested in February 2003 near Knoxville, Tennessee, for having failed to show up at an immigration hearing, and he was deported to Canada. Zundel, 63, a German citizen, was convicted by a Canadian human rights tribunal in January 2001 of promoting hatred against Jews through his web site, but he left the country prior to the verdict. There is an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Germany, where he was convicted in absentia of Holocaust denial. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 9, 2004.]
An editorial in the Toronto Globe and Mail on March 6, 2004 criticized the Canadian government for invoking undefined “national security” concerns to imprison Zundel without revealing all the evidence against him. “These are extreme measures in a democratic society, and Ottawa should use them only if it believes a suspect is likely to do physical harm to people or property,” it contended. “Odious as he is, Mr. Zündel poses no such risk. He has never been charged with a violent crime and does not urge others to commit violence. He is a crank, not a terrorist … The real danger to Canadians comes not from obnoxious nuts like Ernst Zündel, but from a government that casually discards their most precious rights.”
A Canadian court on June 25, 2004, rejected Zundel’s attempts to subpoena officials of the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith Canada, whom he accused of improperly lobbying the Canadian government to deport him.
In August, however, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Cincinnati, granted Zundel’s request for a hearing to challenge the government’s deportation of him to Canada. [Associated Press, August 11, 2004.]
In September, the Canadian Supreme Court declined to grant a hearing for Zundel to advance his claim that he is being treated unfairly because a portion of the evidence against him as been kept secret on national security grounds. On October 22, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Zundel a challenging the constitutionality of the security review process that is the basis for the charges against him. [Jerusalem Post, October 24, 2004.]
Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel (see Canada, above) was the subject of a sympathetic article in the February 1-15 , 2004 edition of the political newsletter CounterPunch, edited by pundits Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. The article, by Alan Cabal, praised Zundel as a “painter and pacifist” who is being “persecuted” by the U.S. and Canadian governments. Cabal described Zundel as “the most widely recognized figure in the growing number of historians, both amateur and academic, questioning the veracity of orthodox accounts of the events which took place in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II … The ‘Holocaust Industry’, as Norman Finkelstein dubbed it, behaves in every way like a fanatical cult. The persecution of Ernst Zundel has been and continues to be both relentless and utterly ruthless.” Cabal characterized the deportation proceedings against Zundel as “an affront to justice and public decency that goes far beyond anything that Mr. Zundel has to say.”
In an interview on New York City radio station WSNR on February 16, 2004, Hutton Gibson, father of actor and film director Mel Gibson, reiterated his previous statements denying the Holocaust. “It’s all–maybe not all–fiction, but most of it is,” Gibson said of the Nazi genocide. “Do you know what it takes to get rid of a dead body? To cremate it? It takes a liter of petrol and twenty minutes. Now, six million of them? They did not have the gas to do it. That’s why they lost the war.” Gibson said Jews “claimed that there were 6.2 million [Jews] in Poland before the war, and they claimed that after the war there were 200,000–therefore he [Hitler] must have killed six million of them.” Gibson claimed that what actually happened to the Jews of Poland is that they “simply got up and left. They were all over the Bronx and Brooklyn and Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles.” When asked by ABC-Television reporter Diane Sawyer about his father’s statements denying the Holocaust, Mel Gibson replied: “He’s my father. Gotta leave it alone, Diane. Gotta leave it alone.” [Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2004.] In the March 2004 edition of Reader’s Digest, interviewer Peggy Noonan asked Mel Gibson about his father’s religious beliefs and view of the Holocaust. He replied: “My dad taught me my faith, and I believe what he taught me. The man never lied to me in his life.” Noonan asked: “You’re going to have to go on record. The Holocaust happened, right?” Gibson responded: “Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine, several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933.”
The State Department on February 25, 2004 released its annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003.” In its list of human rights violations by the government of the United Arab Emirates, the report included the government’s shutdown of a center which promoted antisemitism and Holocaust-denial: “In August, the Government closed the Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up, a think tank that published and distributed literature, sponsored lectures, and operated a website. The center published some books with anti-Jewish themes such as “The Zionist Movement and its Animosity to Jews” and “Al Buraq Wall, Not Wailing Wall.” It also allowed some anti-Semitic language on its website, and hosted some speakers who promoted anti-Semitic views.” (Also see United Arab Emirates, below.)
On February 19, Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review, the most prominent Holocaust denial organization in the United States, addressed a meeting at a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. He claimed forty people attended, and, according to the IHR website, he “was introduced by Peter Gemma, an editor and former editorial writer for USA Today.” [http://www.ihr.org/] Gemma served on the staff of the Pat Buchanan presidential campaign in 2000. [Southern Poverty Law Center]
On March 26, IHR Director Mark Weber made his sixth appearance on the Jeff Rense radio show. Weber later reported that “throughout the interview, the host was cordial and supportive.” On the show, Weber spoke at length about Canada’s efforts to deport Holocaust-denier Ernst Zundel, and claimed that “three US Congressman are now helpfully ‘working on’ the Zundel case, said Weber, citing confidential information provided by Zundel’s wife, Ingrid Rimland.” Weber did not give their names or any other evidence to support this claim.
William Baker, former chairman of the extremist Populist Party, which was established by Holocaust-denier Willis Carto, was invited by the Muslim Student Organization at Florida Atlantic University to speak on campus in March 2004. However, after protests by local Jewish organizations, the event was postponed indefinitely. [Boca Raton News, April 2, 2004 ]
The Institute for Historical Review had planned to hold its April 2004 conference at the Turn Verein, a German-American cultural institution in Sacramento, California. After an article in the Sacramento Bee on April 15, 2004, the owners of the Turn Verein canceled the conference, stating that the IHR had not informed them of the true nature of the planned gathering. The IHR then held the conference at an undisclosed location elsewhere in Sacramento. It claimed that the one-day event was attended by “about 130 persons of all ages from across the country and many foreign lands [among them] a university professor, a motion picture producer, and several scholars and authors (including Hans Schmidt, publisher of the Ganpac Brief). The speakers included IHR director Mark Weber, Paul Fromm of the “Canadian Association for Free Expression,” Chuck Carlson, of “We Hold These Truths,” British author Lady Michele Renouf, veteran Holocaust-denier Bradley Smith, and Idaho attorney Edgar Steele. [http://www.ihr.org]
Holocaust-denier Bradley Smith spoke on the campus of San Jose State University on April 6, 2004, the first day of Passover. It was the third time since 1998 that Smith spoke on the campus. Nineteen people attended his talk, according to press reports. The next day, April 7, 2004, Smith spoke on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. The UC-Berkeley newspaper, The Daily Californian, and the San Jose student newspaper, The Daily Spartan, both published advertisements about Smith’s appearances. Spartan advertising manager Victoria Monroe said she did so because “the community had a right to know Smith would be speaking.” [Jewish Community News of San Jose, May 2004;
J. (Jewish Newsweekly of Northern California), April 16, 2004.]
White supremacist and Holocaust-denier David Duke was released from prison in April 2004 after serving a year in prison for fraud. He was assigned to a halfway house in Louisiana and received approval to do his required community service with the European-American Unity and Rights Organization,” a hate group of which Duke is founder and director. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 11, 2004; www.whitecivilrights.com]
Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer was arrested in Japan on July 13, 2004, and may be deported to the United States, where an arrest warrant was issued because he violated U.S. sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia by playing a chess match there in 1992. According to media reports, Fischer may seek to stave off deportation to the U.S. by claiming German citizenship, because his father is German, but traveling to Germany could result in him being prosecuted for Holocaust-denial. Fischer’s personal web site declares: “The so-called ‘Holocaust’ of the Jews during World War II is a complete hoax! It never happened. The Jews are liars … Japan beware you’re backing a loser. Don’t go down the drain with the filthy Jew-controlled U.S.” [Jerusalem Post, August 5, 2004.]
Twenty members of two neo-Nazi groups, the National Socialist Movement and the National Alliance, held a rally in front of the Nebraska state capitol building in Lincoln, NE on July 17, 2004. Among the speakers was Ray Larsen, identified as Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who spoke about “the myth of the Holocaust” and claimed the diary of Anne Frank is a forgery. [Jewish Press (Omaha, NE), July 23, 2004.]
British Holocaust-denier David Irving spoke to audiences in a number of cities around the United States during 2004. In June, Irving addressed a meeting in New York City organized by Michael Santomauro, head of the internet service “Roommate Finders.” Santomauro contends that about two million, not six million, Jews were murdered by the Nazis, and has caused controversy by sending unsolicited e-mails about the Holocaust and other subjects to his Roommate Finders clients. [The Forward, October 22, 2004]
Irving addressed small private meetings in Baltimore and Washington D.C. in late June, then visited the National Archives on June 24. He reported that veteran archivist John Taylor was “delighted to see me there,” agreed to pose for photographs with Irving, and even “asked for a print.” The photo of Taylor now appears prominently on Irving’s web site. [Letter from Leigh Novog to Rafael Medoff, April 21, 2004, in the possession of the Wyman Institute.] On July 6, Irving spoke at a meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida, and on September 10, he spoke at Colorado University at Boulder. According to press reports, the talk, which was sponsored by a student organization, was “well-attended.” [Intermountain Jewish News, September 17, 2004.]
On October 2, Irving and IHR director Mark Weber addressed a meeting at a hotel in Costa Mesa, California, on October 2, 2004. According to the IHR, seventy people attended, “sales of books and tapes at the meeting were brisk, and several attendees made generous donations to the IHR.” Irving said in his remarks that the 9/11 attacks were an expression of rage against “U.S. support for Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians,” and “the third airliner … which came down in Pennsylvania, may have been shot from the sky on orders of Vice President Cheney…” [www.ihr.org/]
In response to a complaint by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, The Nation –one of America’s leading weekly political journals– adopted a new policy of refusing to accept paid advertisements from Holocaust-deniers. The controversy began when an advertisement from the Institute for Historical Review appeared in the May 3, 2004 issue of The Nation (which was on newsstands in mid-April). The ad promoted a book which, it said, “dissects … the most sacred of Jewish-Zionist icons, the Holocaust story.” The Wyman Institute sent a letter to The Nation on April 21, 2004 protesting the publication of the IHR ad as well as the “sponsored link” by The Nation which appeared on the IHR web site. The letter stated: “Holocaust-deniers are not offering a legitimate alternative viewpoint. They are in the business of hate-mongering. They should not be in The Nation, and The Nation should not be on their web site.” The letter also pointed out that The Nation’s link to the IHR “is especially troubling in view of The Nation’s proud history as one of the few prominent American publications to speak out, during the Holocaust, for the rescue of Jews from Hitler…A business relationship with Holocaust-deniers today sullies that proud record.” The letter concluded: “We therefore urge you to sever The Nation’s relationship with the Institute for Historical Review and to publicly affirm the principle of refusing to accept advertisements from the IHR and similar groups in the future.” The Wyman Institute then received a letter from The Nation’s advertising spokesman, Leigh Novog, dated April 21, 2004, stating that the Wyman Institute’s protest “prompted a meeting of The Nation’s Advertising Acceptability Committee.” The conclusion of the meeting, Novog wrote, was that “[T]here is a strong presumption against censoring any advertisement, especially if we disagree with its politics. This case, however, is different. Their arguments are ‘patently fraudulent.’ The magazine has requested the advertiser, The Institute for Historical Review not run advertising in future issues.” [Wyman Institute Press Release, April 22, 2004.]
Conflicts continued between the IHR and its arch-rival, 77 year-old Willis Carto, founder of the Liberty Lobby. The IHR claimed in a July 9, 2004 news release that its efforts had resulted in the issuing of an arrest warrant for Carto and his associate Henry Fischer in Switzerland on charges of “abuse of trust, disloyal management and money laundering” in connection with Carto’s alleged embezzlement of funds from the IHR. [www.ihr.org/]
British Holocaust-denier David Irving spoke in Copenhagen on February 22, 2004. He was interviewed by Danish Television and the national newspaper Berlingske Tidnigen, and addressed meetings of supporters at the Falconer Hotel and the Angleterre Hotel.
On January 14, 2004, a French court reinstated master’s degrees which Jean Plantin had been awarded by the University of Lyon II in 1990 for a thesis supporting Holocaust denier Paul Rassinier, and from the University of Lyon III in 1991 for his research on typhus epidemics in Nazi concentration camps. (Holocaust deniers often claim that Jews who perished in Nazi camps were not murdered, but died of diseases.) The university withdrew the degrees after Plantin was convicted in 1999 for denying crimes against humanity, but the court ruled that any challenge to the degrees had to be made within four months of when they were awarded. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 14, 2004; Agence France Presse, July 7, 2003; Times Higher Education Supplement, July 4, 2003.]
The Commission on Racism and Negationism at Jean Moulin University Lyon III, which was established by the French government two years ago to investigate evidence of racism and Holocaust-denial at that university, released its report on October 9, 2004. The committee, which was chaired by historian Henry Rousso, concluded that the university has “an extreme-right wing kernel” but is “not a fascist campus.” [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 11, 2004.] The report was strongly criticized by Bruno Gollnisch, a professor of languages and Japanese culture at Lyon III who is also a member of the European Parliament and deputy leader of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s extremist National Front party. He commented: “There is not a serious historian who adheres completely to the conclusions of the Nuremberg trials. I do not call into question the existence of the concentration camps, but as to the number of dead, historians could still have something to argue about. As to the existence of the gas chambers, that is up to the historians to determine.” In response, Lyon III president Guy Lavorel urged French Minister of Education Francois Fillon to fire Gollnisch, but Fillon declined to act, saying he “does not have the right to intervene.” The Justice Ministry, however, announced on November 28 that it will prosecute Gollnisch for his statements about the Holocaust. [Chronicle of Higher Education, October 29, 2004; Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 29, 2004.]
During a court appearance on February 6, 2004, Horst Mahler, a former leader of the extremist National Democratic Party, declared: “It is a lie that we systematically murdered six million Jews,.” Mahler, 68, and two colleagues were being prosecuted for circulating antisemitic pamphlets on the internet. [Associated Press, February 6, 2004.]
Holocaust-denier Mohammed Salmawy appeared at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which ended on October 10, 2004. Salmawy, editor of the French Arabic-language newspaper Al Ahram Hebdo, delivered a message of greeting from author Nagib Mahfus, who was unable to attend. Salmawy has written: “There are no findings to indicate the existence of mass graves, because the size of the ovens makes it impossible for many Jews to have been killed there. According to the lists presented by the Soviets to the Germans, no more than 70,000 Jews were registered as having been at Auschwitz.” [http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2004/10/frankfurt_book_.html; www.bbcnews.co.uk, August 10, 2003]
A Turkish-language newspaper in Germany, “Vakit,” published an article on December 1 by Hasan Karakaya, which stated: “The truth is: There was no Holocaust. And the so-called gas chambers also are a lie.” Claud Guggenberger, spokesman for the German government’s Department for Constitutional Protection, said “Vakit” would face criminal charges as a result. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 6, 2004.]
A Holocaust-denier was suspended from his teaching position at a Catholic school in April, after declaring himself a candidate in the European Parliament elections for the extremist British National Party. Math teacher Simon Smith was suspended from his position at the St. Peter’s Roman Catholic secondary school in Solihull by the Birmingham Diocesan Schools Commission. Smith’s web site, which was shut down last year because its name was too close to that of Yahoo, included this statement: “The ‘six million’ and ‘gas chambers’ story is a lie–this sounds delusional when you first hear it–but investigate the matter for yourself.” [The Guardian, April 29, 2004.]
Lithuania prosecutors announced in June 2004 that they would not bring charges against two suspected war criminals, on the grounds that there is no evidence that the massacre in which they are believed to have participated actually took place. In July 1941, members of a Lithuanian basketball team took part in a contest with German soldiers, and as their “prize” were permitted to murder about thirty local Jews. The two suspects were members of the team. The Lithuanian ambassador to Israel, Alfonsas Eidintas, conceded that the massacre did take place, but defended the prosecutors’ decision. [Jerusalem Post,
June 10, 2004.]
On February 14, 2004, extremist politician Vadim Tudor publicly asked for forgiveness from the Jewish people for making antisemitic remarks, and pledged to visit Auschwitz with a delegation from his Greater Romania Party. Dr. Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center questioned the sincerity of Tudor’s apology, noting that in January 2004, after Tudor had retracted his earlier denial that Romanian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, Tudor’s newspaper, Romania Mare, published an article saying that Jewish victims of Romanian pogromists in 1941 were actually Romanian nationalists murdered by Jews. [Associated Press, February 14, 2004; Jerusalem Post, February 17, 2004.]
Russian publisher Viktor Korchagin, whose books include the Holocaust-denial writings of Swiss author Jurgen Graf, was convicted by a Russian court on November 24 on the charge of publishing hate materials, and given a one-year suspended sentence. However, the conviction was immediately annulled because of the statute of limitations. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 2, 2004.]
William Baker, former chairman of the extremist Populist Party, which was established by Holocaust-denier Willis Carto, was hosted by senior officials of the Bahrain government during a visit to that country in March 2004. Baker, who is currently head of a California-based organization called “Christians and Muslims for Peace,” addressed the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry and was the guest of honor at a luncheon attended by the Deputy Prime Minister, Information Minister, Agriculture Minister, and other leading political figures.
On May 9, 2004, the Egyptian weekly newspaper Al-Arabi published an interview with movie producer Yousef Shaheen, in which he dismissed the Holocaust as “the tale of the Holocaust.” [New York Sun, August 11, 2004.]
On June 24 and July 1, 2004, Al-Liwaa Al-Islami, the official newspaper of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party, published a two-part article by Dr. Rif’at Sayyed Ahmad, titled “The Lie About The Burning of the Jews.”
He wrote: “[T]his lie [about] the burning of the Jews in the Nazi crematoria has been disseminated throughout the world until our time in order to extort the West and make it easier for the Jews of Europe to hunt [sic] Palestine and establish a state on it, in disregard of the most basic principles of international law and the right of peoples to independent life without occupation. [This lie] was raised [also] so that [the Jews] would receive financial, technological, and economic aid from the West.”
After the article was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and quoted by WorldNetDaily.com, Al-Liwaa al-Islami editor Muhammad al-Zarqani issued a statement that the articles expressed only “the opinion of the writer, which is subject to discussion, agreement or rejection.” Dr. Ahmad, however, refused to retract his article, saying: “The issue should be the holocaust that the Palestinians are going through, not the Jews. The West has a serious problem of double standards.” [www.WorldNetDaily.com, August 5, 2004]
According to reports in the Arabic press in London, officials of the U.S. embassy in Cairo met with Egyptian government officials and officials of the National Democratic Party to protest the article. The newspaper then published a statement by Egyptian Information Minister Mamdouh El-Beltagui, on its front page, in which he stated that the National Democratic Party “does not believe that human tragedies and suffering that befell a nation or a people could be a lie.” Al-Zarqani then he either resigned or was forced out of his position.
On August 5, 2004, Al-Liwaa Al-Islami published a statement on the bottom of its front page, which read: “Al-Liwaa Al-Islami has received a number of letters and phone calls regarding the two articles written by Dr. Rif’at Sayyed Ahmad on the Holocaust. Some of the reactions sided with the article and others opposed it, and the question was raised whether it represents the opinion of the National Democratic Party, of Mayo publications, of the journal or of the editor. The answer is: the opinions expressed were those of the author, and they are open to debate, and [furthermore] this is in no way an Islamic question.”
On August 25, 2004, the newspaper published a statement on its front page by Egyptian Information Minister Mamduh Al-Beltagi published an article on the front page of the weekly which read: “The National Democratic Party, which is the party of the majority in Egyptian society, does not believe that suffering and human tragedies of a nation or of another people can be lies. It is impossible to downplay the Nazi atrocities and the tragedies of the Second World War that hurt the Jews and other peoples. The things that Dr. Rif’at Sayyed Ahmad wrote in the Al-Liwaa Al-Islami have nothing to do with the worldview of the [average] Egyptian nor with the ideology and policy of the National Democratic Party.”
Dr. Ahmad responded with a statement addressed to Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights, in which he reaffirmed his denial of the Holocaust and accused U.S. Jewish organizations, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo of waging a “Zionist-American campaign of blackmail” to bring about the firing of al-Zarqani. He also accused the Egyptian government of preventing the publication of his weekly newspaper column.
A statement issued by the Egyptian Journalists Association defended Ahmad, declaring: “[Ahmad’s] articles are historical research. The author is not opposed to Judaism or to the Jews, but rather to Zionism and Nazism, the result of both of which is the occupation of the land of another people, who [then] pay the price for Western racism and its crimes. The Journalists Association denounces the all-out campaign on the part of the Jewish organizations and the criminals, and demands to respond to it and to the blackmailing of the Muslim world in the name of the Holocaust.” [MEMRI Special Dispatch, September 10, 2004.]
A program on Egypt’s Al-Mihwar Television on August 28, 2004, featured a panel discussion about the controversy, with former Al-Liwaa Al-Islami editor Muhammad Al-Zurqani, columnist Abd Al-Qader Yassin, Dr. Ahmad. During the discussion, Ahmad said that the Holocaust “was, at the very least, falsified or exaggerated,” and program host Sayyd Ali agreed that “its truth is in doubt.” Al-Zurqani, joining the discussion by telephone, said “I agree with what Dr. Rif’at Sayyed Ahmad wrote … We were educated from childhood that the Holocaust is a big lie.”
Yassin, identified as a “Palestinian politician,” said that “there is doubt as to the truth of this story [of the Holocaust],” and referred to the Ph.D. dissertation–later published as a book–by former Palestinian Authority prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, denying the Holocaust. [MEMRI Special Dispatch, September 10, 2004.]
In an interview on Egyptian Television on September 8, 2004, Gamal Abd Al-Gawwad, a researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, argued that Holocaust-denial is unwise for tactical reasons. He remarked: “I can understand the Western frenzy over the Holocaust. This crime is described–whether it is true or not–as a real event, in which several millions were killed in the face of complete silence, and that caused pressure on the Western conscience. There is such a thing as the Western conscience. You cannot deny that there’s such a thing as a Western conscience; there is a Western conscience and there is an interest in human rights. We must play with this conscience and its contradictions, and not the other way around: We must not tell [the West] it is hypocritical and that the Holocaust never occurred, and that the whole issue of human rights is nothing but words. This isn’t the way to deal with it. It will lead us nowhere. We must play by the existing rules, which we cannot change right now.” [www.memritv.org]
In April 2004, Iranian Television broadcast a series on Jews in the movie industry. The narrator described films about the Holocaust as an attempt to perpetuate “the false myth about the murder of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis” in order to arouse international sympathy. [www.memri.org]
In December 2004, Iranian Television began broadcasting a 29-part Syrian-produced series called “Al-Shatat” (Diaspora), a survey of Jewish history and the rise of the Zionist movement When the series was aired on Lebanese Television in 2003, the Syrian government denied reports that it was involved in producing the series, but the credits at the end of each episode give special thanks to “The Defense Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the Damascus Police commanders, the Archeology and Museums Administration, Damascus District, Aleppo District, Tartus District, [and] the Tartus Port Administration” for their assistance in the production. It was produced by the Syrian company “Linn” at a reported cost of $5.1-million.
The series alleges that Jews have been attempting to control the world for many centuries and have engaged in a variety of conspiracies to further that aim. Regarding the Holocaust, the series claims that the Nazis murdered one million, not six million Jews, and that Jewish leaders actively collaborated in those murders. In Episode 22, members of the “global Jewish government” are shown celebrating the deaths of one million European Jews, and their leader explains: “The higher the number of Jews killed in this war, the more we will be able to convince the world that the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ is nothing more than a lie invented by the Christian world to increase people’s hatred for the Jews. After public opinion is persuaded that this book is nothing more than a lie, we will launch a secret and quiet offensive to prove the truth of this book, until the world again fears us deep inside, and will be defeated by us without a war. Now, a toast in honor of this great war.” [Palestinian Media Watch, December 14, 2004; MEMRI Special Dispatch, December 12, 2003.]
In July 2004, Israeli Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad (National Union party) introduced legislation that would make Holocaust denial committed overseas an offense under Israel’s legal jurisdiction and could serve as grounds for extradition to Israel from another country. Eldad said his part of his intention was to “send a signal to a Holocaust denier like Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, now chairman of the PLO]” that if he enters Israel he would be regarded as a criminal. Eldad also said that enactment of his legislation would make it possible for the Israeli government to file a counter-suit if an Israeli citizen were to be sued for libel for characterizing someone as a Holocaust-denier. Eldad’s bill was endorsed by Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev, who said “It sends the message that Israel is against Holocaust-denial everywhere and anyone who engages in it is not welcome in Israel.” The Jerusalem Post’s report on the Eldad bill expressed doubt as to the practical impact of the legislation, arguing that “countries that do not have laws against Holocaust-denial are unlikely to extradite citizens to be tried in Israel for the crime..” [Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2004.]
In February 2004, the Bush administration included in the U.S. foreign aid budget for 2004 a provision that no U.S. funds will be used “to provide equipment, technical support, consulting services or any other form of assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation.” The action followed protests by Members of Congress over PBC programs promoting violence, antisemitism, and Holocaust-denial. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 4, 2004.]
On March 25, 2004, to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, Palestinian Authority Television showed a child- ren’s play in which the actors portrayed dead Arab children and the narrator said: “They [Israel] are the ones who did the Holocaust, their knife cuts to the length and the width of our flesh … They opened the ovens for us to bake human beings. They destroyed the villages and burnt the cities. And when an oven stops burning, they light a hundred [more] ovens. Their hands are covered with the blood of our children.” [Palestinian Media Watch, April 19, 2004.]
In a sermon on April 16, 2004, aired live on Palestinian Authority Television, Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris praised French Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy as “the French intellectual who exposed world Zionism … He converted to Islam and wrote of World Zionism’s covetous aspirations, based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Whoever thinks America controls Israel and its decisions is wrong.” [www.memri.org]
On May 20, 2004, Palestinian Authority Television aired a discussion with Jareer Al-Qidwa and Issam Sisalem, identified as “Palestinian historians.” Regarding the Holocaust, Sisalem said: “This is a great lie. Were Goebbels and his ilk to be resurrected, he would reveal that they are greater liars than he is, I mean those who have whined in the past that they have been oppressed or killed… and a holocaust… and massacres in Russia… and Chmielnicki pogroms… Now they attack a people on its land… a people with 7,000 years of history.” [www.memri.org]
On November 15, 2004, Mahmoud Abbas became chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, succeeding the late Yasir Arafat. On November 26, 2004, Abbas was nominated by the Fatah movement as its candidate for the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas is the author of a 1983 book denying the Holocaust. The book was titled The Other Side: The Secret Relations Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement. It was originally his doctoral dissertation, completed at Moscow Oriental College, in the Soviet Union. According to a translation of the text provided by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Abbas’s book repeatedly attempted to cast doubt on the fact that the Nazis slaughtered six million Jews. He wrote: “Following the war, word was spread that six million Jews were amongst the victims and that a war of extermination was aimed primarily at the Jews … The truth is that no one can either confirm or deny this figure. In other words, it is possible that the number of Jewish victims reached six million, but at the same time it is possible that the figure is much smaller–below one million … It seems that the interest of the Zionist movement, however, is to inflate this figure so that their gains will be greater. This led them to emphasize this figure [six million] in order to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism. Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions–fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand.” Abbas denied that the gas chambers were used to murder Jews, quoting a “scientific study” to that effect by French Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on May 28, 2003, Abbas asserted that in his book, he “did not address the question of the number of victims but cited historians who said the victims ranged in number from one million to 12 million … The Holocaust was a terrible thing, and nobody can claim I denied it.”
United Arab Emirates
On July 26, 2004, Harvard University’s Divinity School announced that it was returning a $2.5-million gift from the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, because of his connection to the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-up, which promoted antisemitism and Holocaust-denial. The center was shut down in August 2003. [Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2004.]
On September 20, 2004, the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported that “Egyptian academicians urged the United Arab Emigrates to ‘take a second look at their decision to close the Zayed Center.’ The academicians, who all belong to a group they call ‘The Centre for Arab Research after September 11th,’ announced in the office of Hosni Mubarak that it is most necessary to reopen the centre.” [New York Sun, September 29, 2004.]
On September 22, 2004, the Office of Information Affairs for the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates criticized the State Department for mentioning the shutdown of the Zayed Center in its annual report on human rights around the world. (See United States, above.) The office denied that the Center “promoted anti-Semitic views of any kind.” [New York Sun, September 29, 2004.]
On September 16, 2004, Holocaust-denier David Irving was prevented from boarding a fight in Los Angeles bound for New Zealand, after the government of New Zealand announced it would not grant him entry, citing the fact that he was previously denied permission to reside in Canada because he was deemed a threat to national security.[New Zealand Jewish Chronicle, August 2004; Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 21, 2004 and September 19, 2004.]
Controversy continued over a program broadcast in May 1998 on a Muslim radio station, Radio 786, in Cape Town, South Africa. On the program, Yacoub Zaki of the London-based Muslim Institute said that one million, not six million Jews, had died in Europe during World War II, and they were not murdered by had died of diseases. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies had complained to the Broadcasting Monitoring Complaints Committee about the incident, but the committee ruled in November 2002 that there was no basis to the complaint and no need for a hearing on the matter. On March 24, 2004, Johannesburg’s High Court overruled the committee and ordered that a hearing be held. The radio station appealed the decision, but on September 6, 2004, the Supreme Court of Appeal agreed that a hearing should be held. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 25, 2004; September 7, 2004]
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies