Guardian

Debating the Holocaust on CiF


‘Comment is Free’ is no stranger to Holocaust denial. We recently reported how on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the Guardianistas were running amok denying the Holocaust when the Guardian reported Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial at the Al Quds day events.

And Holocaust denial is not confined to “below the line” in the comment threads. Seumas Milne, the former Comment Editor, and regular contributor to Comment is Free is on record for shamelessly defending Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and the Guardian regularly publishes articles by Ben White who has in the past flirted with Holocaust denial and whose antisemitic book, “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide”,  includes an essay on Zionism by Holocaust denier, Roger Garaudy, in its ‘select bibliography’.

So when the Guardian published on Comment is Free  “I knew the day of ‘Holocaust” debate would come. Just not in my lifetime” by Jonathan Freedland it should come as no surprise that the comment thread devolved into Holocaust denial. As an aside this begs the question as to why such a misleading title was chosen given the real substance of the article was about the Conservative Party’s purported alliances with far-right groups in Europe.

Before examining some of the comments, a word or two about Holocaust denial is in order. Holocaust denial is defined as the “assert[ion] that the murder of approximately six million Jews during World War II never occurred and that the Germans are victims of a Zionist plot to extort vast sums of money from them on the basis of a hoax.” Holocaust denial is insidiously antisemitic and takes many forms. It includes claims that the six million number is grossly exaggerated, genocide was never carried out using tools of mass murder,  survivor testimony is unreliable, the Holocaust is a myth spread by the Jews to enable the creation of a Jewish homeland and the fate of the Jews was no different to that of other people that suffered during World War II. The goal of Holocaust denial is to rehabilitate Nazi ideology and in the context of Israel (and most relevant to ‘Comment is Free’) to delegitimize one of the powerful justifications for its existence.

As Holocaust  Denial on Trial succinctly puts it “[u]nder the guise of a reasonable person’s search for truth, Holocaust deniers spread falsehoods and misinformation that appears reasonable to the uninformed reader.” It is in comment threads of ‘Comment is Free’ where commenters find fertile ground to spread the lies and falsehoods of Holocaust denial safe in the knowledge that other than the most blatant forms of Holocaust denial such comments will evade the delete button of the moderators.

Turning to the Freedland thread. Let me start off with this interesting observation from chiefwiley, one of the earlier commenters.

chiefwiley

20 Oct 09, 8:42pm

It should be interesting to see who is lurking out there to “revisit” the holocaust right here at the Guardian. Are the moderators ready for it?

Indeed so and as chiefwiley was typing away his comment the first one to come out of the woodwork was by IllegalCombatAnt that literally set the tone for the entire thread, surviving deletion for at least 16 hours and garnering at least 70 recommendations:

IllegalCombatAnt

20 Oct 09, 8:42pm

Why is it that we are not allowed to debate the Holocaust?

Why is it that academics who try to do so have their funding cut off or lose their tenures?

Who came up with the 6 million figure?

Then you have this undeleted comment with 33 recommendations:

RepublicanStones

20 Oct 09, 11:41pm

How come the ADL are so ready to criticise the Tories on this, but there were rather muted back in the late 80s when real anti-semites who were active in WW2 were found to be employed by Bush the first in his Ethnic Outreach Committee? They referred to the anti-semitism espoused by those guys as ‘antique and anemic’. But the Tories align themselves with people less unsavoury and the ADL are up in arms.

Furthermore, why do some insist on preventing freedom of speech regarding this horrific event? There is no question, millions of jews, romanies, poles and thousands of homosexuals and handicapped people perished, but unless you allow freedom of speech surrounding this event, you’re never going to know who the loony bins are. Also the continued inflation of holocaust survivors by the likes of the Israeli Prime Ministers Office, does not do anything to dispel the revisionists.

And there is this undeleted comment with 108 recommendations:

MMeister

20 Oct 09, 11:51pm

It shouldnt be a ‘crime’ to deny anything. What is this 1984? Thought crime?

Why is it that we are not allowed to debate the Holocaust?

To this day people still debate whether evolution still exists. But they’re never sent to jail for it. Its all rather fishy. A bit like the Red Cross Report from 1947 which had a much smaller figure in the ‘tragedic deaths’ column.

And then there is this one, also undeleted receiving a whopping 116 recommendations:

PhilipD

21 Oct 09, 12:20am

Great article, and I agree with most of it but…. well, I have a problem with your last paragraph:

The strange thing is, I always knew that one day, when every last survivor was gone, there would be “debate” about the Holocaust. Claims that were once deemed shameful – questioning the veracity of documented events – would become somehow acceptable. But I never imagined that I would live to see that grim day for myself. Yet here it is: right here, right now.

Of course the nutcases and bigots who deny the historical reality of the murder of millions of jews must be rejected and marginalised in any civilized society. But I do have a problem with the notion that any topic, even one as loaded as the Holocaust must be immune from serious discussion. As this terrific article in the New York Review of Books indicates, the slaughter that took place in eastern Europe was indeed a very complex phenomenon, with many peoples (including those of Latvia) subject to repeated waves of genocide from both Nazis and Communists. Even the notion that the Holocaust was somehow uniquely a Jewish tragedy should be subject to historical inquiry – by some measures, the Roma suffered an even greater loss of life (as a proportion of the pre war population). The genocides that took place in the Carpathians of islamic peoples by Stalin were also on a near Holocaust scale. It is a serious subject, and we must make a clear distinction between Holocaust denial and its roots in anti-semitism, while allowing historians and others to seriously debate the issue without fear of being labeled a Nazi if they say something which doesn’t quite follow the established narrative.

And here’s yet another. Also undeleted with only 39 recommendations this time.

sherlock001

21 Oct 09, 1:55am

If we are going to charge the Germans with the unique monstrosity of using homicidal gassing chambers to kill millions of innocent victims, we should be willing to allow examination of the history of that monstrosity in the routine way that all other historical issues are examined. But taboo, censorship, prosecution and imprisonment are routinely used to prevent such a historical examination. How could a case buttressed by hard facts possibly be endangered by kooks and anti-Semites? Most of Europe has already criminalized doubting the Holocaust. It is a crime even to confirm that it happened but to conclude that less than 6 million Jews were murdered. Why is the Holocaust a subject that is off limits to examination?

Then we have Teacup, a well-known antisemitic commenter (as we established here), with the strangest justification of Holocaust denial that I’ve ever come across:

Teacup

21 Oct 09, 5:27am (about 7 hours ago)

Jonathan,

While I appreciate how painful a debate on the Holocaust can be to survivours and their families, surely you are not advocating the criminalisation of debate? If nothing else, open debate can help identify the cranks and the prejudiced, and provide a relatively harmless outlet for anti-Jewish sentiments. Before I get e-mud thrown at me for that last sentence, there is a big gap between bad-mouthing a community and actually harming them.

There is nothing new or strange about politics bringing about strange bedfellows. The recourse is obvious – campaign to ensure that they do not ascend to office until they have seen the error of their ways. Your article has set that ball rolling.

It really does take a sick and twisted mind to think that open debate about Holocaust denial is a “relatively harmless outlet for anti-Jewish sentiments”. Then again this is one of the Guardian’s protected and this is ‘Comment is Free’.  Needless to say this comment was not deleted.

We then have this gem from FelixKrull, again undeleted.

FelixKrull

21 Oct 09, 7:14am

Why is it that we are not allowed to debate the Holocaust?

I second that question.

As for the Holocaust, a German crime againsrthumanity, sure it happened , but why is any attempt to review the accuracy of the official,   jewish-sponsored version immediately labelled as “Holocaust denial”?

And that one too.

Why do you want to re-examine the Holocaust?

Because the examination has so far been based largely on wartime propaganda. Largely, mind you, before you cry ‘denier’.

What do you think the motive is that lies behind Holocaust denial?

Brain damage, probably. But we’re not talking about Holocaust denial, are we, rather than revisionism, a re-examination of history based upon the wealth of information about the matter that has come to light since the Standard Model of the Holocaust was written sometimes in the early seventies.

And if IllegalComabatAnt’s antisemitic bona fides were not clear from his first comment on the thread, there’s this undeleted comment:

IllegalCombatAnt

21 Oct 09, 8:30am

Teacup 21 Oct 09, 7:39am

Anybody,

What is an “anorak issue”?

 

Teacup, I assume you know that an anorak is an item of apparel. They are commonly associated with trainspotters, people who meticulously record details of trains.

An anorak is therefore a person immersed in the minutiae of any issue – the subtext is that they are boring and pedantic. A bit like many of the unwelcome visitors to CiF from Giyus and other such places.

And for those not fluent in Guardianspeak, “Giyus” is a deeply offensive slur against Jewish supporters of Israel suggesting that they are propagandists (a slur that is encouraged by none other than the Guardian’s very own commissioning editor of ‘Comment is Free’, Brian Whitaker).

And the Holocaust denial continues with these two comments, again both undeleted:

Weeper

21 Oct 09, 8:39am

We are allowed to discuss the Armenian holocaust, the native American Indian holocaust, the Bengal famine (holocaust), and every other one, but not THE Holocaust.

Why not?

For example, if those who allege that gas could not have been used at Auschwitz could be disproved, then they would shut up for all time. If not, then we need to know why this “fact” was broadcast in the first place.

Also, I’d like to know where the figure of 6 million came from, just as I’d like to know how many people have died since Iraq was invaded in 2003.

All this is healthy enquiry, I don’t see why people cry “holocaust denier” if I want to find out more.

duppyconqueror

21 Oct 09, 9:54am

I was educated on the holocaust with stories of jews being made into bars of soap by the Nazis.
However concentration camp inmates were not made into bars of soap.
even the holocaust museum in israel now accepts this.

but to claim so in the past would have raised accusations of holocaust denial.

Then there is this one that provides an interesting insight into the utter ignorance of the Guardianista:

newone

21 Oct 09, 6:41pm

I have to agree with the comment that anyone who dares to even question the “Holocaust” is a anti-semitic and is to be hounded out of existence.

The real problem is they want to hijack the word “holocaust”. You could describe the murder and slaughter of the millions of Russians as a “holocaust” but because in a sense it has been copyrighted by the Holocaust people, you are not allowed to have a Russian Holocaust.

And what would a Holocaust denial thread be without mention of the great hero of the Guardianistas, Norman Finkelstein:

david119

21 Oct 09, 10:14am

On the face of it I can’t disagree with Jonathan Freedland.

But Jonathan is also a well know Zionist and I sense another agenda lurking beneath a literal reading of his text.

I have to agree with Norman Finkelstein, whose parents were both Holocaust survivors, that the “Holocaust industry” has corrupted Jewish culture and the authentic memory of the Holocaust.

So I have to wonder what was the real reason for this piece.

David Cameron is a leading member of “Conservative Friends of Israel”, not a very likely candidate for a closet anti-Semite.

If Jonathan Freedland came out strongly in favour of the Goldstone report, I might take his concerns about “anti-Semitism” in Eastern Europe a bit more seriously.

In fact the thread was dripping with so much Holocaust denial/revisionism that Jonathan Freedland felt compellled to make the following comment:

“Several posters here seem to be under the impression that I want to “criminalise” debate on the Holocaust. Wrong. I am not calling for debate on any topic to be banned; for the record, I have always opposed laws outlawing Holocaust denial.

But while I don’t believe in making such things illegal, I do deplore the notion — supported in several comments here — that the documented facts of the Holocaust should have their veracity questioned.”

Yet Freedland is clearly oblivious to the fact that he created this mess in the first place because of his ill thought out and reckless choice of title for his article: “I knew the day of ‘Holocaust” debate would come. Just not in my lifetime”.  

And what would a Guardian Holocaust denial thread be without strict enforcement of the Guardian World View. Here’s an on the money comment from Duballiland:

Duballiland

21 Oct 09, 9:09am

What amazes me is that this paper which spends so much time vilifying Israel making endless attempts to undermine it is so ready to play the J card when it might help them stop a Conservative Government coming to power.

It would appear that the left does love and will stand by Jews, but only dead ones.

Let me leave you with this parting comment from josecher:

josecher

21 Oct 09, 12:09pm

Why is it that we are not allowed to debate the Holocaust?

Why is it that academics who try to do so have their funding cut off or lose their tenures?

Who came up with the 6 million figure?

At what point exactly did cif start to become infested with nazis?

When I last looked, the above comment had received 70 recommendations – 70 holocaust deniers/apologists on the Guardian’s forum? What the hell is going on?

So Georgina, Matt and Brian, for the umpteenth time what are you going to do about this? The above is just a sampling of the Holocaust denial on ‘Comment is Free’. As I said yesterday in my post, you should be utterly ashamed of yourselves for having created this and what is worse you do absolutely nothing about this.

63 replies »

  1. Mickey much touted figure of ”sixmillion”
    ————-
    You’re quite a sweetheart. Is it that you believe that we gain glory through a figure such as this or that you believe that the murderers themselves lied in quoting these figures and gained glory for themselves by all the millions they were able to kill in such a an efficient and workmanlike fashion.

  2. MITNAGED

    “The German people and others in the German-occupied countries were exposed to propaganda which told them that exterminating these people was a “good thing” for those societies.

    The propaganda was initially published in newspapers like Der Sturmer.

    CiF publishes such hate-filled propaganda too. Given the thrust of some of the below the line comments, aren’t you in the least concerned about the normalisation of this hatred by its constant repetition and reiteration there? I am. Very much.”

    Can you direct me to a single comment (or article) on CiF which is claiming that the systematic extermination of Jews would be a “good thing”? I don’t believe such articles are published or such comments undeleted but I am happy to be corrected.

  3. margie-

    “Is it that you believe that we gain glory through a figure such as this or that you believe that the murderers themselves lied in quoting these figures and gained glory for themselves by all the millions they were able to kill in such a an efficient and workmanlike fashion”

    Neither-it is simply that six million represents a FRACTION of the total that were slaughtered in the camps. Making reference to six-million instead of the real figure downplays the Holocaust. (We don’t want to do that do we?)

  4. Mickey isn’t arguing with the figure of six million. And here I was thinking that he was an unbeliever. He just wants us to give the murderers their full due for killing many others.

    Yes Mickey they did kill many others too. That didn’t make their efforts to wipe out every last Jew any less glorious. They had big plans. After the Jews, it was the turn of the gypsies and the handicapped and the homosexuals and the blacks. The Jews were easiest to start with because there weren’t many of them. They were an obviously different segment wherever they lived. They were used to trying to please others. They had lived quietly in foreign countries for so long that they felt that they had no right to object to bad treatment. The Nazis made an arbitrary definition of what constituted a Jew in their eyes and went to it with a will.

  5. StickyMickey my point to you was that CiF and the Guardian bring Jew-hatred into public discourse and minimise its impact, thereby making it possible for such hatred to be acted upon. In other words, they are slowly but surely making Jew-hatred OK by making mindless hatred of Israel acceptable and preferable.

    Someone wrote on another thread here that by minimising Jew-hatred CiF becomes an invalidating environment for those affected by it to discuss it and addressing it is impossible since any posts referring to it are deleted.

    Given that many haters of Israel cannot or don’t care to separate out that hatred from hatred of Jews and Jewish supporters of Israel, I consider my point well made.

    In other words, the Guardian and CiF in particular provide an enabling environment for Jew/Israel hatred by their obsessive focus on Israel’s wrongs, real or imaginery. CiF is, as one of CiFWatch’s authors once wrote, an arch-promulgator of the archetypal, Goebbels-type Big Lie.

    And articles often argue for the systematic destruction of the Jewish state, knowing full well that the destruction of its Jews would follow in short order.

  6. SticyMicky

    http://www1.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%206905.pdf
    This link is in Hebrew . It is about the Holocaust and the Roma, and was written by Professor Yehuda Bauer, an expert on the subject.
    It treats the subject in exhaustive detail, but here is a nut shell (that does not do it the judtice it deserves):
    The old opinion was that the Roma was persecuted to the same extent as the jews. In later years, through the continuous research and examination of the subject, ut seems that the treatment of Roma differed according to place and time during the war.
    In some places’ especially in Germany itself and parts of eastern-central Europe that were annexed to the Reich, they were indeed hounded and exterminated like the jews. Further East, and later in the war, the pesecutaion varied, from death to slave-labour, and from big efforts to find them to ignoring them. And indeed, one of the criteria was wether they were traveling Roma or settled ones.

    This complicated picture is probably the reason why Fackenheim speaks of the “possible exception of the Gypsies.
    If you want the full picture just find some to translate or you the above (and very worthwhile) link.

    But this is not a competion of misery, and at least here in Israel we know about the suffering of the Gypsies.

  7. Orly-

    “The old opinion was that the Roma was persecuted to the same extent as the jews. In later years, through the continuous research and examination of the subject, ut seems that the treatment of Roma differed according to place and time during the war.”

    And recent research also has shown that the picture for ALL those with Jewish blood (so-called “Mischlinge”) in the Third Reich was far from clear. Many actually served in Hitler’s armed forces as opposed to being exterminated.

    “No fewer than twenty-one generals, seven admirals, and one field marshal of Jewish descent served with Hitler’s consent. In addition, thousands in the lower ranks of the Wehrmacht remained because Hitler personally exempted them from the laws. Hitler did so mainly because they looked Aryan (that is, had blue eyes and blond hair), had good military records, had rendered Germany a unique service, or had come from distinguished families.”

    http://jewishsightseeing.com/2009-SDJW-Quarter4/20091015-Thursday/20091015-david-strom-column.html

  8. MITNAGED

    “StickyMickey my point to you was that CiF and the Guardian bring Jew-hatred into public discourse and minimise its impact, thereby making it possible for such hatred to be acted upon. In other words, they are slowly but surely making Jew-hatred OK by making mindless hatred of Israel acceptable and preferable.”

    So what has been the impact and consequences of the supposed CiF agenda of promoting Jew hatred (by which the Guardian is apparently analagous to Der sturmer)? I notice the government hasn’t closed down publication of the Guardian for contravening Race Hate legislation. Has Israel imposed sanctions on the UK and withdrawn it’s ambassador since the UK government has failed to respond? Has there been ANY reaction ANYWHERE to the Guardian’s manifest hate campaign? Isn’t it interesting that you guys are almost single-handedly averting another Holocaust and no-one’s had the decency to even notice? What do you conclude?

  9. Sticky

    I apologize for boring you with that link about the Roma. In Hebrew, too!That was a laugh, eh?
    You very clearly do not care about Roma, or any other people. Except people who may by one way or another, be catalogued under J -E-W . And then only when you think you have found something bad to say about them.

    Well, here is a big revelation for you! JEW-s are human beings, and just like with other human beings, there are “good” jews, and “bad” jews, and -mostly- a lot of “in the middle” jews.

    I have lived in the UK for some years, and it was a nice place to live, except for the weather. And for some sticky people like you.
    Sticky people, who when they realised I was jewish suddenly had a whole different attidute. I wasn’t just me any more, I wasn’t just another person. No, I was special. Sometimes in a “good” way (“WE” are supposed to be good in certain subjects) and sometimes in a nasty way (“WE” are supposed to be all kind of things which I guess I do not have to detail for you. Rather, YOU can probably fill me in on the few I may have missed). Of course, it was not done in the in-your-face style of Poland before the war (according to my parents). But it was there.
    Thankfully I don’t live in the UK any more. And I don’t have to listen to “stickys” any more.
    So you can go on enjoying your hate-filled obsession.
    And I will go out to enjoy the sunshine and the pestless enviroment.
    Goodbye.

  10. StickeyMickey – ‘Has there been ANY reaction ANYWHERE to the Guardian’s manifest hate campaign?’

    There has.

    A lot of blogs comment that The Guardian leads the way in trying to make antisemitism respectable.

    Even Nick Cohen has commented that he has been reminded rudely of his far,far removed Jewish Ancestors by the raving Loony Left.

  11. “Even Nick Cohen has commented……..”

    Wow!

    Orly

    You’re absolutely correct. The Jews are just like anyone else. I don’t remember claiming otherwise. Let’s be clear-the Jews were targeted for extermination as a people as were the Roma. No further discussion required.

  12. StickeyMickel. Let’s be clear-the Jews were targeted for extermination as a people as were the Roma. No further discussion required.

    The plan to eliminate Jews from the world did provide facilities that were used by the Nazis to eliminate other groups such as Gypsies and homosexuals BUT, the initial target was the Jews.

    Don’t ever forget that.

  13. The Gypsies had been prosecuted for decades under vagrancy laws.

    When the Nuremberg laws were brought into being in order to criminalize the Jews for being racially impure it was evident that the Rom fitted into this category as well and the law was later expanded to include them.

    The Jews, however, were top of the list since they so conveniently defined themselves, behaved differently, worshipped differently and generally had distinctive names. The Jews were prime candidates because of the wealth in the community and their property could be used as leverage to get key members of the community to support the Nazis. Besides, there was a lot of sympathy in Europe for antisemitism and this sort of policy gained cooperation for the Nazis rather than the opposite. You only need to read novels and poetry of the era to see how evident this is. Ezra Pound and TS Eliot were both blatantly antisemitic.

    Up to 1943 sterilisation was considered to be sufficient deterrent for the Gypsies but after that they were consigned to concentration camps just like the Jews, homosexuals and handicapped and suffered the same fate.