Canadian Jewish News
February 22, 2001

Holocaust denial finds new home

Staff Reporter

TORONTO - A gathering of Holocaust deniers in Lebanon is only the tip of the iceberg in the ongoing collaboration between neo-Nazi activists from the West and Muslim fundamentalists in the Arab world, according to an expert on Middle Eastern terror groups.

Muslim groups are copying age-old anti-Semitism," said Steven Emerson, producer of the PBS documentary, Jihad in America. "As I see it, they're the biggest promoters of it in the world today."

Spurred by opposition to Israel that spills over into overt anti-Semitism, the Arab world has proven a fertile ground for neo-Nazi propaganda.

From March 31 to April 3, the California-based Institute for Historical Review (IHR), the pseudo-intellectual wing of the Holocaust-denial movement, will hold a conference in Beirut on the topic of Revisionism and Zionism.

"Revisionism" is a term employed by Nazi propagandists to describe Holocaust denial and its corollary argument, that through the control of the world's media and power centres, Jews fabricated the Holocaust to justify the dispossession of Palestinians.

It has proved a potent argument in the Arab world, where mainstream newspapers, radio stations and even political leaders parrot the anti-Semitic line, while comparing Zionism to Nazism and Israeli leaders to Nazis.

The extremist right has recognized the potential for expansion in the Middle East."The awareness of the importance of the Holocaust story as a key propaganda tool of Israeli-Zionist interests is growing throughout the world, especially in Muslim countries," states the IHR Web site.

According to Emerson, the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Holocaust-denial and Jewish conspiracy theories are widely accepted in the Arab world.

"It is a new and developing trend," said AJC spokesperson Yehudit Barsky. "Both believe in conspiracy theories and the Jews as Satan's face."

The location of the IHR conference was not chosen by accident, Rabbi Cooper said. "We see a very dramatic rise in the Holocaust denial mindset throughout the Palestinian and certain parts of the Arab and Muslim world."

The case of French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, a convert to Islam, is illustrative. Garaudy was found guilty of questioning crimes against humanity and of racial defamation. The ADL reports that on Jan. 19, 1998, "about 70 Palestinian professors, journalists and religious leaders protested in front of a French cultural centre in support of Garaudy. The Islamic Human Rights Commission, an Iranian activist group, and Al-Khaleej, a United Arab Emirates paper, also defended Garaudy."

Some of the most egregious anti-Semitic diatribes have been carried in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority.

The paper has accused Israel of controlling U.S. decision-making, alleging that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "feverishly trying to recruit America and its allies to served the hated agenda of the Torah."

In another article, the Palestinian newspaper alleged the existence of "a greater Zionist plan which is organized according to specific stages that were determined when the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were composed."

(For a sampling of anti-Semitic materials in the Arab media, visit

Last May, at the IHR's 13th international conference in Orange County, Calif., 150 "revisionists and friends" gathered to discuss the Holocaust. The assembled delegates heard from members of the history falsification movement, including French academic Robert Faurisson, Toronto publisher Ernst Zundel and British writer David Irving.

This year, the Beirut meeting is being organized by Association Vérité et Justice (Truth and Justice), a three-year-old Swiss organization headed by Jürgen Graf. Graf is "a prominent Swiss revisionist author who fled his homeland rather than serve a 15-month prison sentence for Holocaust denial." Graf "has been welcomed in Iran," states the IHR Web site.

This confluence of events -- the meeting of Holocaust deniers, the conference location in the heart of the Arab world, the Iranian connection -- worries Rabbi Cooper.

He has written to the Lebanese ambassador in Washington, asking that Lebanon block the conference, but so far, he has had no response.

Emerson, who has testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee that held hearings on international terrorism and immigration policy, said there is "consistent use of neo-Nazi and Nazi propaganda in Islamic militant circles... Lately we see neo-Nazi cross-fertilization with radical Arab groups and even some mainstream groups.

"I think their hatred of Jews is so intense that it has led to these alliances," Emerson said.

A recent report in the Milan-based newspaper, Corriere della Serra, suggests the alliances may be heading to a new level. It cites German intelligence services, which claim Osama Bin Ladin has begun financing far-right groups throughout Europe to help him carry out attacks during a G-8 summit meeting that will be held in Genoa this summer.

The Western media, cowed by concerns over political correctness, have been "intimidated and bamboozled" into avoiding covering the links between the Muslim world and neo-Nazis, including on the domestic North American scene, Emerson said.

In Canada, meanwhile, the Arab language newspapers Al-Orouba and Al-Miraat have employed anti-Semitic stereotypes in the past (CJN, April 10, 1997), and a November 2000 edition of Al-Moustakbal, a Montreal paper, ran an article that referred to "our enemy, the Jews."

Sasson Mayer, an Iraqi-born Jew who monitors the Arab-language press, quoted the article calling for a "struggle against Jews... Our enemy [the Jews, in every place that there are Jews] is aiming to take our land."