The Last Word: Lack of Debate
Nov 3, 2008 | Jeremy Jones
By Jeremy Jones
As Adelaide’s Fredrick Toben awaits judgements on whether he will, on appeal, be extradited from the UK to Germany, and/or will be found to be in contempt of the Federal Court of Australia due to the Holocaust denial material he has published over many years, reports reached Australia of the publication in Iran, of a “100-page book of cartoons on the Holocaust”.
An Iranian television report of the launch of the book, recorded and transcribed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, included the following comment from Mohammad Saeed Jabalameli, Chancellor of Iran’s University of Science and Technology:
In order to question the Holocaust, experts needed to conduct studies, but the important thing is that fundamental questions have arisen in recent years: If the Holocaust is indeed an historical event that really took place, why don’t they allow this issue to be investigated? Why don’t they let academic circles investigate this issue? This alone is an indication that it is a fabrication, with no historic validity.
The news item concluded with a voiceover stating, “the book is an effort to expose the need to research the event of the Holocaust.”
The Nazi period is arguably the single most researched, analysed and debated historical event. Historians at the time I was a student, and even more so since, have been documenting and trying with passion and energy to fully comprehend and understand the event. What is not debated by anyone with an inkling of integrity and learning is whether the Nazi genocide took place, as this would be similar to “debating” whether or not John Howard served as prime minister of Australia or whether 2006 came before or after 2005.
“The Contentious Centrist”, who blogs on, amongst other matters, Middle Eastern affairs commented; “Typing ‘Holocaust’ into Amazon book search tool, brought 71,378 results. Perhaps someone should advise the Iranian regime of such a place as Amazon. On Concordia library, 7790 (presumably academic research book) results were found.”
Quite simply, the democratic world, so vilified by the Iranian leadership, encourages debate and scholarship – but also, in most cases, provides some recourse to the victims of racist bile such as Holocaust denial.
The Iranian support for Holocaust denial is part of an ideological package which informs and rationalises a genocidal intent towards Israelis and an anti-Jewish philosophy extending well beyond Israel.
While looking at the Iranian media, I came across an item which also completely misrepresented the reality and nature of debate in the West.
The Oct. 25 news bulletin of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) announced with glee the launch “in London Friday night” of the “International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network”, which had amongst its aims opposition to the alleged suppression of criticism of Israel in countries such as the UK.
For a Jewish organisation to conduct its launch on a Friday night, the Jewish Sabbath, might seem peculiar. However, it is in step with the self-described “Torah-true” anti-Zionists who demonstrated with Hamas on a Saturday morning during the World Conference Against Racism in 2001, while the Jews they claimed were acting against the Divine Will were in synagogues, as well as a prominent US-based anti-Israel Jewish woman who recently delivered her major Australian address on the holiest time in the Jewish religious calendar, the night of Yom Kippur’s Eve.
A good report of the London launch, which managed to include anti-Israel maximalist Palestinian Ghada Karmi as a “Jewish Anti-Zionist” (probably news to her), appeared on the weblog Harry’s Place, which has published many sage and thoughtful critiques of, to quote eminent jurist Anthony Julius, “Jews who are proud to be ashamed to be Jewish”.
In countries such as the UK and Australia, there is a mini-community of individuals who gain entry into the public arena by describing themselves as brave Jewish “dissidents”, challenging those Jews who want Israel’s case to receive a fair hearing. Generally, they have little to say and have no real impact on the way Israel is viewed by the general population.
Like Holocaust deniers, they are applauded in, and promoted by, Iran – for much the same reason.