An Anti-Holocaust Intifada Grows among the Arabs
At a time when Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation is stiffening and the brutality of Zionist oppression is becoming ever more obvious, Holocaust revisionism is catching fire across the Arab world. "The trend among public opinion in the Arab world today," one prominent Arab journalist recently wrote, "whether we like it or not -- is to question the veracity of the accepted wisdom about the extent of the killing of Jews by the Nazis."[see note]
An influential Israeli-American journalist, Yossi Klein Halevi, while predictably misrepresenting Arab attitudes toward the Holocaust, and exaggerating Arab sympathies for Hitler, agrees on the rise of revisionism among Arabs:
The Arab world has become obsessed with the Holocaust, and two camps have emerged. One camp, which includes the government-controlled newspapers of Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, argues that the Holocaust never happened; the other camp, which includes at least one government newspaper in Egypt, acknowledges that the Holocaust did happen and is grateful to Hitler for implementing it.
Indeed, nowhere except in the Arab world is both Holocaust denial and admiration for the Final Solution as mainstream, including among intellectuals.... Hiri Manzour [Khairi Mansur], columnist for the Palestinian Authority-controlled newspaper Al Hayat al Jadida, April 13: "The figure of six million Jews cremated in the Nazi Auschwitz camps is a lie for propaganda." [see note]
Elli Wohlgelernter, writing in the Jerusalem Post, similarly lamented the growing acceptance of Holocaust revisionism. In an article littered with factual errors, Elli dismissed revisionist scholars as "deniers" who claim "that Chelmno, Dachau and Auschwitz were merely disinfection sites."[see note] Referring to Deborah Lipstadt, the well-known Jewish critic of Holocaust revisionism, he wrote:
Her fear for the future are [sic] Arab students walking around saying they know there was no Holocaust, because they learned it in their textbooks. "A colleague of mine said: 'The bombs last a minute, and they can do terrible damage. But this stuff is an incendiary device that lasts generations.'"
Contributing significantly to this trend was the publicity surrounding preparations earlier this year for a four-day conference on Holocaust revisionism and Zionism in Beirut, Lebanon, which the Institute for Historical Review helped to organize and promote. Three influential Jewish groups -- the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- publicly demanded that Lebanese authorities ban the meeting, and the U.S. government brought covert pressure on Lebanon to ban it.
Shortly before the conference was to begin on March 31, Lebanon's prime minister announced that it would not be permitted. (See the January-February 2001 Journal.)
The worldwide media attention paid the Beirut conference, and its cancellation under Zionist and official U.S. pressure, greatly boosted Arab awareness of Holocaust revisionism, including the work and impact of the Institute for Historical Review.
Activism in Jordan
Nowhere has recent support for revisionism been more open and ardent than in Jordan, where the Jordanian Writers Association (JWA) and numerous scholars and journalists have done much to promote awareness of Holocaust deceit. Prominent in this effort has been Dr. Ibrahim Alloush, who is active in the JWA and the Association against Zionism and Racism (AZAR). Dr. Alloush writes a regular column for the popular Jordanian weekly Assabeel, and is editor of the Free Arab Voice web site (www.fav.net).
During a packed, standing-room-only AZAR meeting on April 7 in Amman, the Jordanian capital, which had been called to show solidarity with the Palestinian resistance to Zionist occupation, speaker after speaker rose to express support for revisionist historians, and to condemn Arab intellectuals who had called for the banning of the Beirut conference.
The JWA succeeded in holding a meeting devoted to Holocaust revisionism in Amman on May 13. About two hundred persons packed JWA headquarters for the gathering, entitled "What Happened to the Revisionist Historians Conference in Beirut?" This much-anticipated meeting had been postponed twice: once in April after Jordanian authorities expressed concern that it might harm relations with the United States while the country's monarch, King Abdullah, was visiting Washington, and again earlier in May.
The attendees called on colleagues in other countries to join in supporting the work of revisionist historians in uncovering lies and exaggerations in the Holocaust extermination story. Historical revisionism, explained journalist Hayat Atiyeh in her address to the meeting, is not an ideology but a position, supported by facts and meticulous analyses, about a historical event -- "the Holocaust." Revisionists include Muslims, leftists, Jews, and Christians, she said, and many revisionists have been fined, fired from their jobs, socially ostracized, and even assassinated for their dissident views on the Holocaust. During the 1980s, Atiyeh continued, experts carried out scientific examinations of the alleged gas chambers in which Jews were reportedly killed during the Second World War, and found that they could not have operated as described in the extermination myth.
Another journalist, Arafat Hijazi, noted that Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, had used the Holocaust to justify the creation of the "Zionist entity." Hijazi also told the meeting that Jews had exaggerated the number of their people killed in the Second World War, and misrepresented how they perished.
In his address to the meeting, Ibrahim Alloush quoted at length from a detailed statement by French revisionist Robert Faurisson, that Faurisson had prepared for delivery at the cancelled Beirut conference. (See pages 13-22 in this issue of the Journal.)
Zionists, Alloush told the meeting, have succeeded in portraying themselves in Western public opinion as a people who were so victimized in the Holocaust that they practically deserve free license from the West to act with impunity against anyone at any time. The myths of the Holocaust are extremely important to the Zionist movement, Alloush continued, explaining that Jewish claims about unique persecution and systematic extermination during the war are used to justify a need for their own safe haven in Israel. This myth basically provides a justification for the rape of Palestine, he said.
"In human history, the argument of the uniqueness of Jewish deaths provides a justification for Israel and the Zionist movement to violate every ethical and legal code in the book, and to persecute opponents, like the revisionist historians and the Arabs, without any reprimand, even with sympathy, from the West," said Alloush.
Revisionists do not deny that Jews died in the Second World War, Alloush stressed. On the contrary, revisionists affirm "that hundreds of thousands of Jews died, along with the forty-five million who perished in that war." Revisionist scholars apply science to prove that gas chambers were not used to exterminate Jews systematically, he continued. Crematories, on the other hand, were used to "dispose of the corpses of people of different nationalities to circumvent plagues."
News reports and commentary on the May 13 JWA meeting appeared in many newspapers, and Zionist groups, including the influential Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League, were quick to denounce the conference. Extensive videotaped portions of the JWA meeting were broadcast on June 30 and again on July 2 on Lebanon's Hezbollah satellite television channel "Al Manar."
On June 20 the Free Arab Voice distributed by e-mail an editorial essay, "The Modern Relevance of Nazi-Zionist Cooperation," along with "Zionism and the Third Reich," an article by Mark Weber reprinted from the July-August 1993 Journal of Historical Review.
IHR Open Letter
In a statement issued in mid-March, fourteen prominent Arab writers called on authorities in Lebanon to ban the "Revisionism and Zionism" conference in Beirut. But the widely publicized declaration soon proved something of an embarrassment for at least two of its backers. Edward Said, a prominent Palestine-born scholar who teaches at Columbia University in New York City, repudiated the statement two weeks later, saying that he had been deceived about its content. In a semi-public letter, he explained that he had never, in fact, approved any call to ban the conference. Another signer, Elias Khoury, expressed embarrassment that Israel's ambassador to France publicly praised the Arab intellectuals' statement. A third signer, Mahmoud Darwish, publicly repudiated the statement on July 15.
The IHR responded to the statement with an "Open Letter to 14 Arab Intellectuals" (see pages 6-7 in this issue of the Journal). Written by IHR director Mark Weber, and headed "No to Censorship!, No to Bigotry!," it has been widely published in the Arab world. It appeared in the Saudi Arabian daily paper Al Watan, April 25, in Al Arab Al Yowm, one of Jordan's three major daily newspapers, May 8, and in the influential Beirut daily paper An Nahar, May 9. It was also published in Arabic in the Jordanian weekly Assabeel, April 25-30, one of the country's largest-circulation magazines, and in the Kuwaiti weekly magazine Al-Mujtamaa, May 26. The IHR Open Letter also appeared in at least two on-line Arab periodicals, Aljareeda and Al Shaab. (The IHR's Open Letter is posted on the "Beirut 2001" section of the IHR web site, along with numerous press reports on the on-going Middle East struggle for revisionism.)
On the evening of May 15, coincidentally the fifty-third anniversary of the founding of Israel, Holocaust revisionism was the subject of the popular current affairs show, Opposite Directions, broadcast on the Arabic-language satellite television channel "Al Jazeera." Free of government control or censorship, this independent channel is well regarded across the Arab world, reaching some thirty million viewers from Morocco to Bahrain.
Representing the anti-revisionist view on the live, two-hour show was a Tunisian intellectual who lives in Paris, Al Afif Lakhdar, who defended the March statement by the fourteen Arab intellectuals. The show's main revisionist speaker was Hayat Atiyeh, who had addressed the May 13 JWA meeting in Amman. She spoke effectively, making her points with lucid arguments and convincing references. Displaying photographs of Palestinian victims of Zionist oppression, she told viewers: "This is the real holocaust. The other one is a fake." Atiyeh also showed a photograph of Robert Faurisson after a nearly fatal attack against him by Jewish thugs, as well as photos of an attack against a book store in Paris that sold revisionist books.
Ibrahim Alloush participated by telephone, explaining the importance of revisionism to Arabs. Also joining the discussion by telephone, Robert Faurisson deftly rebutted Lakhdar's argument that Arabs would lose support in the United States and Europe if they embraced Holocaust revisionism. "If you want to avoid any trouble with Zionists," said Faurisson, "surely it is better to forget about discussing the Holocaust."
During the broadcast, viewers were invited to respond to an on-line poll on the "Al Jazeera" web site. Viewers could respond affirmatively to one of three questions:
- Do you think that Zionism is worse than Nazism?
- Do you think that Zionism is the same as Nazism?
- Do you think that Zionism is better than Nazism (not as bad)?
The results, made public at the conclusion of the broadcast, showed that more than 84 percent thought that Zionism is worse than Nazism, over 11 percent think that Zionism is the same as Nazism, and only 2.7 percent think that Zionism is better, or not as bad, as Nazism.
As even the show's moderator declared, the broadcast was a resounding victory for the revisionists.
A Legacy of Skepticism
In spite of the worldwide, decades-long Holocaust campaign, enforced in several European countries with laws that criminalize "Holocaust denial," millions of people around the world have never accepted the claim of six million Jewish wartime victims. Thirty-seven years ago, for example, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser said in an interview that "No one, not even the simplest man in our country, takes seriously the lie about six million murdered Jews."[see note]
In 1996-1998 this skepticism was manifest in an outpouring of support, especially from Arab and Muslim countries, for French scholar Roger Garaudy when he was indicted and then punished for daring to challenge Holocaust claims in his book on The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. Mohamed Heikal, for decades perhaps the most influential journalist in the Arab world, endorsed the revisionist view of the Holocaust issue in his foreword to the Arabic edition of Garaudy's controversial book.[see note]
As the growing trend among the Arabs suggests, popularly and scholarly revisionist rejection of the Holocaust is going to play an increasing role in the moral and intellectual struggle against Zionism, Israel, and their founding myths.
- Rami Khouri, a Palestinian journalist based in Amman and former editor of the Jordan Times, in "A View from the Arab World," Toronto Globe and Mail, May 22, 2001, p. A15.
- Yossi Klein Halevi, "Dance of Death Overtakes the Arab World," Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2001.
- Elli Wohlgelernter, "In a State of Denial," Jerusalem Post, June 12, 2001.
- Nasser interview with the Deutsche (Soldaten und-) National-Zeitung (Munich), May 1, 1964, p. 3. Quoted in: Robert S. Wistrich, Hitler's Apocalypse (London: 1985), p. 188.
- "Heikal's Foreword to the Arabic Edition of Garaudy's Founding Myths," Journal of Historical Review, November-December 2000, pp. 30-35.
From The Journal of Historical Review, May/June 2001 (Vol. 20, No. 3), page 3.