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Deborah Lipstadt: Holocaust As Hasabara – OpEd


Deborah Lipstadt, who’s been bequeathed the mantle of Holocaust sainthood from Elie Wiesel, penned a strong denunciation of the Trump administration’s erasure of Jews from the Holocaust in its recent statement honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In a piece in which she manages to promote the new movie based on her libel trial against David Irving, she coins a new term to portray it on the spectrum of Holocaust Revisionism.  She calls it “softcore Holocaust denial.”

While the term is both provocative and apt in these circumstances, one part of her argument is not.  Among the examples of Holocaust denial she offers is this:

Softcore denial uses different tactics but has the same end-goal [as hardcore denial, represented by Irving]. (I use hardcore and softcore deliberately because I see denial as a form of historiographic pornography.) It does not deny the facts, but it minimizes them, arguing that Jews use the Holocaust to draw attention away from criticism of Israel.

Being the patron saint of Holocaust studies doesn’t grant her permission to abuse of history on behalf of pro-Israel hasbara.  It is a fact, disputed only by propagandists like her, that Israel itself abuses the Holocaust and accompanying charges of anti-Semitism against its critics.  Also, Israel mistakenly appropriates the Holocaust as a historical event, arguing not only that it justified the creation of the State (debatable, but justifiable), but that any enemy or critic of Israel could threaten Israel with a new Holocaust (unjustifiable).

Every Israeli enemy becomes a harbinger of a new Holocaust.  Remember Shimon Peres, like Wiesel another hasbarist of ‘sainted memory,’ saying that the (non-existent) Iranian Bomb was a “flying Holocaust (original source)??”

Note above, that Lipstadt cleverly inserts the word “Jews” so as to distort the actual content of the accusation against Israel.  It is not “Jews” who accuse pro-Israel advocates of invoking the Holocaust to stifle criticism of Israel.  It is Israel’s right-wing government and the Israel Lobby abroad.  “Zionists,” yes.  “Israelis,” yes.  But “Jews?”  That’s one bridge too far.

Deborah Lipstadt may be an expert in her field of Holocaust studies.  But when it comes to Israel she is a cheap shill.  She should stick to what she knows.

This article was published at Tikun Olam.

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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