Wyman Institute letter in the New York Times re: Holocaust deniers

As published in the New York Times – Dec. 14, 2006

Anti-Semites Hold A Convention in Iran

To the Editor:

Your Dec. 13 report about the Holocaust-denial conference in Iran quoted Germany’s chancellor referring to the attendees as “revisionists,” and France’s foreign minister criticized “the resurgence of revisionist ideas” regarding the Holocaust.

While these leaders are well intentioned and their condemnations of the Tehran conference are most welcome, we take issue with their use of the term “revisionists” when referring to those who deny the Holocaust.

The deniers prefer to be called “revisionists” because they believe that the term gives them legitimacy, hearkening back to post-World War I historians who disputed conventional portrayals of various aspects of that war.

Typically, those 1920s revisionists were well-regarded scholars offering legitimate alternative interpretations of historical facts. By contrast, the “Holocaust revisionists” are bigots whose denial of the Holocaust is merely a new mask for old-fashioned anti-Semitism, a fact confirmed by last year’s United States government report on anti-Semitism around the world, which pointedly included manifestations of Holocaust denial as examples of anti-Semitism.

Deborah E. Lipstadt
Rafael Medoff
Washington, Dec. 13, 2006

The writers are, respectively, a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University; and director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.