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.


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:


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:


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:


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:


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.


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:


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

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.


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:


21 Oct 09, 8:30am

Teacup 21 Oct 09, 7:39am
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:


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.


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:


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:


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:


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:


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.

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