Australia/Israel Review


The Last Word: “Abject Filth”

Sep 2, 2020 | Jeremy Jones

The French town of Oradour-Sur-Glane: Massacre site desecrated
The French town of Oradour-Sur-Glane: Massacre site desecrated

 

Holocaust deniers in Australia and elsewhere have been consistently exposed as fabricators with anti-Jewish agendas, and Holocaust deniers in a number of countries have faced sanctions and punishment for the promotion of antisemitism. 

It is nearly 20 years since a Federal Government body determined that Holocaust denial is “insulting and offensive”, is “intended to be offensive and intimidating” and is directly aimed at denigrating Jewish people.

This was far from the first occasion in which Holocaust denial had been clearly and unambiguously identified as antisemitism, anti-Jewish racism, but was the first time this could be tested at the federal level in Australia. 

In a ruling in September 2000 on a complaint made to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in May 1996, Commissioner Kathleen McEvoy noted in Jones v Toben that “no recognised academic or educational institution within Australia or elsewhere recognises Holocaust denial or revisionism as genuine academic research.”

One might have thought that, with the progression of time since the defeat of Nazism, Holocaust deniers might have been able to exploit an expected waning of interest in the subject of the Nazi Genocide. Yet in fact, what we have seen has been ongoing serious research into the subject and consistent overall lack of mainstream impact by the antisemites. 

However, social media has proven to be fertile ground for a range of racist conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denial.

A report by the think tank the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) this August concluded that Holocaust denial content was widely available on Facebook and that the social media network also had algorithms in place which actively promoted it.

The report “Hosting the Holohoax: A Snapshot of Holocaust Denial Across Social Media” found a widespread problem not just on Facebook but on other platforms, despite efforts by anti-racist groups to address this.

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council joined with more than a hundred other groups recently in urging Facebook to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism and to be proactive in preventing antisemitic conspiracy theories – including Holocaust denial.

The ISD report noted that another platform, Twitter, had acted against some Holocaust denial but that a significant part of the problem remained unaddressed, while YouTube and Reddit were lauded for limiting Holocaust denial. 

Another report published in August, by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), found large volumes of Holocaust denial and other antisemitic material on Polish language Twitter and YouTube. 

On the day the GPAHE report was issued, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was calling on Walmart to remove from its website books which promote Holocaust revisionism and which claim Jews are “pernicious, conniving shifty liars”.

The same books available on the Walmart site in August had been removed from sale by Amazon earlier this year. 

The online licence freely given to Holocaust deniers cannot but encourage the activities of racist thugs and vandals, and it is no surprise that the global wave of antisemitic activity includes manifestations where this particular pernicious motif appears.

In late August, vandals daubed the word “Lie” on a remembrance wall in Oradour-Sur-Glane, near Limoges in central France, as well as crossing out the inscription “Martyr Village”.

On June 10, 1944, an SS Division locked 642 Jewish people, mainly women and young children, in a church there, then set it on fire, in the biggest massacre of French civilians by the Nazis during World War II.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said the graffiti “dirties the memory of our martyrs” and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin denounced it as “abject filth”. 

Holocaust denial is not just “abject filth” but is outlawed in many jurisdictions. 

It is shameful that some online platforms have been abrogating morality and responsibility and it is beyond time they acted with decency. 

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