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Gilad Atzmon has distributed -- and defended in general terms -- an essay by Paul Eisen designed to promote Holocaust denial. The Eisen essay, titled "Holocaust Wars," claims among other things that the gas chambers of Auschwitz are fraudulent and couldn't work. It "backs up" this claim using the same lies used by the leading lights (such as they are) of the Holocaust denial movement -- people like David Irving, the self-described "Hitler-lover" Ernst Zündel, and the faux engineer Fred Leuchter.
When you defend Paul Eisen's essay, you're defending the very same lies promulgated by the "Hitler-lover" Zündel, his flunky Leuchter, and his admirer David Irving. Yet this is what Gilad Atzmon does.
Now, if you think I'm exaggerating by calling Paul Eisen's essay "Holocaust denial propaganda," you might want to skip to the last section of the post, in which I document exactly that. For now, it suffices to say that Eisen has said "... the evidence for the use of homicidal gas-chambers [at Auschwitz] is not good at all. The evidence against it is much, much stronger." http://www.haloscan.com/comments/thecutter/117192641046077827/
And the following paragraph from the essay Atzmon circulated gives little room for doubt on where Eisen stands:
"Many will take the view that Holocaust revisionism [the boilerplate euphemism for the Holocaust denial movement] is but pernicious nonsense motivated only by a hatred of Jews and a desire to rehabilitate Hitler and National Socialism specifically, and fascism in general, and therefore not even worthy of scrutiny. I don't agree, and those with sufficient curiosity to wish to research the subject can visit the website of the premier Revisionist think tank, the [fascist-founded, though Eisen doesn't mention that] Institute for Historical Review, locate the Journal of Historical Review and its archive of articles and papers and start reading."
I'll describe the "Institute for Historical Review" in a little more detail below. You can find the Eisen essay itself, the one Gilad Atzmon thought was so brilliant, by googling "Eisen 'Holocaust wars'"; you'll pull it up on a number of "Poor Hitler was misunderstood" sites like Ernst Zündel's.
What was Gilad Atzmon's reaction recently when he was challenged over having distributed a stack of standard-issue Holocaust denier lies? "I am happy i circulated Eisen and he is indeed a friend of mine." http://www.haloscan.com/comments/thecutter/8761647492477468265/
Is Atzmon an open Holocaust denier, as Tony Greenstein claims? Not quite; he's got too much to lose to go around saying openly what Eisen does. But Atzmon clearly has no serious problem with circulating pro-denial essays or praising Holocaust deniers, as shown by his decision to distribute Eisen's essay, a decision he's "happy" about. And when challenged about the propriety of spreading the lies of Nazi apologists, Atzmon resorts to the same line of patter I describe in the next section.
-- Some notes on the Holocaust denial movement.
One of the favorite lines of patter of the Holocaust denial movement is that nothing should be taboo when it comes to studying history. They're right -- or at least they're right if by "studying" you mean studying, not "making up lies about." Unfortunately, they mean the latter.
It helps to remember some facts about the Holocaust denial movement.
And the first thing to notice is that the Holocaust denial movement is and has been for thirty years a product of the racist right, the brownshirt right. Ernst Zündel -- the guy who paid for the Leuchter report I'll discuss below -- let us know exactly where he stands politically when he wrote the book, "The Hitler We Loved and Why."
The Holocaust denial movement in America was also a product of the racist right; the "Institute for Historical Review" -- for decades the leading Holocaust denial organization in the US -- was funded by Willis Carto, a former Bircher who led it for more than a decade.
And, of course, David Irving -- well, nobody's about to argue that *he's* in any way a political progressive, right? His racism was completely exposed in the Lipstadt trial, but so was his tendency to speak to neo-Nazi organizations.
Like any crackpot organization, Holocaust deniers have two core ideas. One is that the Holocaust was vastly exaggerated by the greedy Jews. The second -- common ground for all crackpot organizations -- is that they are being censored and persecuted for their ground-breaking views. (Name a crackpot who doesn't claim he's being persecuted for his ideas. It's part of the syndrome.)
When legitimate historians refuse to debate Holocaust deniers -- for exactly the same reason that legitimate astronomers don't debate flat-earthers -- Holocaust deniers do the "nothing should be taboo in historical study" dance. Which sounds pretty good, if you've removed it from context.
The context, though, is this: the Holocaust *has* been very widely studied and will continue to be very widely studied. And from the very beginning these studies have shown that Holocaust deniers are full of shit. (I'll give a specific example below.)
They're like -- although considerably nastier than -- the "intelligent design" folks, who start from an absolutist religious position but try to dress it up as if it were a scientific position. Scientists see right through "intelligent design," just like historians see right through Holocaust denial, which is antisemitism trying to pass for historical inquiry. The Holocaust denial movement starts from the stance, "the brownshirts weren't as bad as they say, and The Jews are lying," and then tries, through pseudo-scholarship, to make that seem like it might be a legitimate historical stance, rather than an expression of basic antisemitism.
-- a note on law
A key difference, of course, is that spreading Intelligent Design isn't illegal, while several countries have included Holocaust denial as part of their laws against hate speech. These countries -- all but two, last time I checked, either having been part of the Reich or having been occupied by the Reich -- aren't wrong to consider Holocaust denial a form of hate speech. I think these are bad laws, not because they somehow mischaracterize Holocaust denial (they don't), but because I don't think there should be laws against hate speech as such, except when that speech is used to incite to violence.
Of course, Holocaust deniers -- and their defenders -- natter on about "thought police throwing people into prison" and such, never mentioning that Holocaust denial is only one of many forms of hate speech such laws prohibit.
Having said that, let me repeat that I don't agree with such laws. I think the best way to confront Holocaust denial is simply to show how ridiculous its claims are, when unwrapped from their lies and rhetorical flourishes.
But let's be clear: if you start saying things like "why is investigating the Holocaust taboo" you have bought into the Holocaust denier frame, which is wrong for two reasons. One is that investigating the Holocaust is not taboo; the second is what Holocaust deniers are doing isn't "investigating" but lying.
-- the repackaging of Holocaust denial for leftist consumption
And let's be clear about something else: there are some folks on the left starting to repackage classic, by-the-book Holocaust denial in "anti-Zionist" garb, hoping to spread it over here. Paul Eisen is one, and Gilad Atzmon is self-admittedly "happy" to help him do it. In the new version, tailored for the left, the culprit is not the Jews -- heaven forfend, no! -- but "the Zionists." Same lies, same reliance on Zündel and Leuchter and Faurisson and Irving and the rest of that jackboot lot, new false "anti-Zionist" moustache.
There was an interesting example of this in the US just a few years ago. The nation's oldest regular publication, a progressive magazine called The Nation, ran an ad for a book by Roger Garaudy called "The Founding Myths of Modern Israel." The ad ran for one issue only before it was discovered to be a work of Holocaust denial and pulled. The placing of the ad was a clear and conscious decision by Holocaust deniers to repackage their lies for the left by making the villains not the Jews but "the Zionists" -- even though the ad was placed by the same "Institute for Historical Review" I mentioned above, a group just as happy to blame the Jews.
This -- the antisemitic pile of lies called Holocaust denial -- is what Eisen wants to bring to leftist discourse, and his friend Atzmon is happy to help. Anything that makes you hate "Zionists" is fair game, apparently, even when it's repackaged Nazoid horseshit like Holocaust denial. They're hoping you'll be useful idiots.
But you can't be a useful idiot if you're not an idiot, and the best way not to be an idiot is to educate yourself. So let's take a look at the real sources of Paul Eisen's Holocaust denial.
-- Paul Eisen's essay
Let me start out by saying that I've been following the Holocaust denial movement for over a decade, and that related to the David Irving trial I've probably read, all told, somewhere around three thousand pages of reports, submissions, transcripts, etc. I'm not going to footnote every last thing I write in this section, but be assured that I can, and feel free to ask me for details about the source(s) of any particular fact. I am *so* not making this up.
Here is an example of what Eisen wrote and Gilad Atzmon was so "happy" to have distributed:
"Nothing seems to fit about the gassing story. The numbers of victims crammed into the space, the design and construction of the gassing facilities, the lack of protection for the attendants, the implausibility surrounding the rate of cremation, the huge errors, omissions and disparities in eye-witness accounts -- all these and more, when added to the near total absence of hard affirmative evidence, makes one wonder why anyone believed such a story in the first place..."
Let's just take the very first issue, "the numbers of victims crammed into the space." If you followed the Irving trial in any detail, you already know that this is one of the standard gambits of the Holocaust deniers, and has been for decades. Goes like this: "There simply wasn't enough capacity in the supposed gas chambers of Auschwitz to hold all the Jews who were allegedly murdered there, not even enough room to cram them all in."
Where does this claim come from? It comes from a guy named Fred Leuchter, the twit Ernst "The Hitler We Loved" Zündel paid $35,000 dollars to in the 1980s to produce a bogus "scientific" refutation of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Zündel wanted to prove in Canadian court that the Holocaust didn't happen, and he thought that throwing down a bullshit "engineering report" about the gas chambers would help his case. It didn't. But that document, the "Leuchter Report," has the grim historical hallmark of having been the work that made David Irving decide to become a Holocaust denier himself; Irving published it in the UK under his own imprint and repeatedly referred to it in his talks as an irrefutable blow to the Auschwitz "myth."
I'm not going to link to the Leuchter report; you can find it at your nearest swastika-kissing site. A detailed demolition of the Leuchter report can be found here: http://hdot.org/trial/defense/van/ix. This is a chapter of the expert report submitted by Auschwitz historian Robert Jan van Pelt as part of the Irving v. Lipstadt trial, and it chops the Leuchter Report into bits.
Well, say what you want about whether or not Leuchter is an antisemite, but he's certainly an idiot, and his "Report" is full of appalling idiocies, many of which have been taken up by Paul Eisen and spread, in turn, by Gilad Atzmon. Leuchter made his calculation of the gas chamber capacity at Auschwitz and concluded that there just wasn't enough. His calculation is, as van Pelt shows, full of all sorts of stupid assumptions and errors -- Leuchter vastly overestimated fatal HCN concentration levels, he ignored the presense of a ventilation system Leuchter didn't notice, vastly overestimated the minimum possible time between gassings, etc., etc.
But maybe the single dumbest factor of Leuchter's calculation is this: he assumes that -- despite eyewitness accounts of how packed the "showers" were -- that each person, required *nine* square feet of standing room within the gas chamber, man, woman, or child.
Why such a ridiculously large figure? Because he wasn't trying to get at the facts; he wasn't "studying" the chambers; he was instead trying to force his numbers to fit his pre-ordained conclusion, as bought and paid for by Ernst "The Hitler We Loved and Why" Zündel.
So he lied. And Ernst Zündel picked up that lie ("not enough floor space") and ran with it. Why not? He paid for it. And then David Irving picked it up as well, when he started selling copies of the Leuchter report in the UK. And the lie wound its way through the Holocaust denial movement as a standard part of the "gas chambers wouldn't work" saga. And it is as part of that saga that the Holocaust denier Paul Eisen picked it up -- without mentioning its source -- and put it into his love letter to Ernst Zündel, the very same "Holocaust Wars" essay Gilad Atzmon was so "happy" he circulated for his "good friend."