James Macintyre 23 May 2017 | 10:58 AM
A heavyweight group of national Jewish leaders is demanding that Manchester University removes books by the Holocaust denier David Irving from ‘open access’ in its main library.
A letter appealing to Manchester’s vice chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell will been sent this week, jointly signed by the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Holocaust Education Trust, the Union of Jewish Students and the Community Security Trust.
The intervention marks a major boost for the ongoing campaign to persuade the university to change its position, led by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Irene Lancaster, an eminent Jewish academic, and Guy Wilkinson, Dr Williams’ former interfaith adviser.
It follows a letter sent last month by Dr Williams alongside repeated requests from Dr Lancaster as well as the local Labour MP, Graham Stringer, and coincides with a separate letter this week from local councilor John Merry on behalf of the City Mayor of Salford, who writes: ‘As a local councillor who represents thousands of Jewish residents I feel personally very upset about this unfortunate situation.’
Dr Williams wrote that the issue needs ‘urgent attention’ and warned that the current arrangement of Irving’s work ‘could be experienced as threatening by Jewish members of the University’. In response, the university said it was considering re-cataloguing the books but refused to move them from open display in the John Rylands library.
In their new letter, addressed to Dame Nancy, the Jewish leaders write: ‘We understand that you have already received multiple complaints regarding these books and are yet to take appropriate measures. David Irving was labelled by a High Court Judge as an antisemitic, racist Holocaust denier in 2000 when he lost his libel case against historian Deborah Lipstadt. Irving was subsequently sentenced to three years in an Austrian prison following speeches in which he referred to the “gas chambers fairy tale” and called the Holocaust a “myth”. More recently he spoke at a far-right event in London where, according to press reports, Auschwitz was compared to Disneyland and the death of Jo Cox was referred to as “cheery news”. The fact that his writings can be found on the same shelves as books by legitimate historians is not just an insult to the victims of the Holocaust and their descendants, but also risks these books being endorsed as accurate historical fact.’
The Jewish leaders then call on the university to follow the example of Churchill College, Cambridge who in February removed Irving material followed a complaint by Lancaster, and other institutions such as neighbouring Manchester Metropolitan University who do not show Irving books on open display.
They appeal for the university immediately to remove all Irving literature from open-access shelving; appropriately label these books as being authored by a convicted Holocaust denier; re-catalogue the books; and permit access to such material on application for the purposes of genuine academic research.
‘We firmly believe that these steps are wholly appropriate to ensure that these books are not seen as legitimate historical resources but are still available for academic purposes,’ the Jewish groups write. ‘The University of Manchester has attracted Jewish students from across the UK for many years and we feel that it is therefore of great importance that you are seen to take this matter seriously.’
The intervention comes after Lancaster received a letter from the office of Jo Johnson, the higher education minister who Dr Williams also wrote to in February, saying that responsibility for the books was down to the individual institutions and justifying their presence on grounds of ‘free speech’.
Johnson’s office wrote to Lancaster: ‘The issue you have raised is an important one. The Department for Education in no way condones such literature, however, free speech and academic freedom are fundamental to our higher education system and wider society. Many higher education institutions, including universities, have a legal duty to take reasonably practicable steps to secure freedom of speech within the law for their members, students, employees and visiting speakers. Our universities must be places where there is open debate and challenge, which may involve allowing judgment-free access to lawful material, however objectionable.’
However, Dr Williams said in response: ‘It’s a very inadequate reply because it still misses the point, which is not about securing academic freedom but about (a) responsible direction given to students about the character of the literature to which they are exposed and (b) proper assessment of the risk of material being experienced as threatening or supportive in some way of harassment. Neither of these points is dealt with.
‘Granted that universities are autonomous and make their own rules, it seems to me more than ever necessary for clear guidance about good practice on this specific point.’
Canon Wilkinson added: ‘Surely the government has a responsibility to hold them to account and demonstrate that their decisions comply with the law and are in the best interests of students.’
The row follows demands that universities do more to tackle antisemitism on campus and a rise in the number of reported incidents involving Jewish students and academics.
Last year, the respected peer and academic Ruth Deech warned that some of Britain’s leading universities were becoming no-go areas for Jews. Naming Manchester, Soas, Southampton and Exeter, Lady Deech told the Telegraph: ‘Amongst Jewish students there is gradually a feeling that there are certain universities that you should avoid.’
Lancaster, who was the first teaching fellow in Jewish history at Manchester University, said: ‘I am no longer able to recommend Manchester University as a suitable place for the study of history, let alone Jewish history, and I seriously fear for the continuing safety of Jewish students and staff on the Manchester University campus.’
In his earlier letter, Rowan wrote to Dame Nancy: ‘I … have concerns over the shelving of works like those of Irving alongside routine historical texts. Given that his work has been declared by experts like my colleague Sir Richard Evans to be undeserving of the name of history and to be characterised by deliberate falsification of material, it is not a question of alternative interpretations of history or of expressions of simple opinion, but of a very specific genre of literature, quite distinct from history.
‘Of course students should be allowed to read it for approved academic purposes, but there is, it seems to me, a strong case for shelving or labelling it independently to clarify its nature. And not doing so could be open to the challenge that its presence without such clarification could be experienced as threatening by Jewish members of the University, in the sense spelled out in official definitions of anti-semitism and listed on the website, “The Law of Anti-Semitism”.
‘At a time when there is, nationally and internationally, a measureable rise in the expression of extremist views I believe that this question needs urgent attention.’
ADL Calls on Google to Take Action After Revelations That Deniers Included in ‘Holocaust Historian’ Search Results
An Anti-Defamation League (ADL) cyber-hate expert has called on Google to take action following revelations that Holocaust deniers are included in the image bar results for a search of “Holocaust historians.”
Jonathan Vick — the ADL’s associate director of investigative technology and cyber-hate — said he was certain that Google would edit the algorithm for the search results to ensure the exclusion of deniers and antisemites.
“[Google has] been confronted with this sort of issue in the past, and there is no real question of how they will respond,” Vick said. “These are unintended and painful consequences of an algorithm that clearly needs human intervention.”
The very first “historian” listed is David Irving, with other results including David Hoggan, author of The Myth of the Six Million, and one-time Columbia University historian Harry Elmer Barnes, who wrote a 1964 article titled “The Zionist Fraud,” in which he claimed Israel manufactured the Holocaust to squeeze reparations from Germany.
All three individuals were discussed in Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust, published in 1993 and considered by many to be a seminal text in the study of Holocaust denial. This was the book that triggered Irving’s failed 1996 libel suit against Lipstadt, a case immortalized last year in the film, “Denial.”
Vick said he was highly concerned by the fact that “we don’t know how long this issue has been up, and it would’ve been nice if someone had noticed earlier.” He noted that having misinformation “like deniers being included in a list of legitimate scholars” readily available across the internet “certainly impacts Holocaust education.”
Google press representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In 2013, it was exposed that auto-fill suggestions on the search engine for “Jews should” included a host of disturbing antisemitic phrases. Google subsequently edited that algorithm to exclude the most offensive statements from appearing in the auto-fill feature.
UPDATE: The Google search results for “Holocaust historian” have now been updated to exclude the image bar entirely.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon endorse holocaust denial! (UPDATED)
We’re contacting you regarding the following book: The Bad War: The Truth NEVER Taught About World War II. During our review process, we found that this content is in violation of our content guidelines. As a result, we cannot offer this book for sale.
Amazon did not explain precisely which guidelines had been violated, nor did it cite specific passages. Therefore the “violations” claim is an obvious lie. The real reason King’s book and others were banned is that Jewish-Zionist pressure groups have mounted a campaign (timed to accompany the “cemetery desecration” PR stunt?) aimed at making Holocaust revisionism books unavailable. Obviously they believe the revisionists’ claims are irrefutable — and have convinced Amazon that such is the case.
Are the same people who are knocking over headstones in cemeteries also pressuring Amazon to remove holocaust revisionism books? That would certainly fit their standard “problem-reaction-solution” methodology.
After MS King emailed me about the suppression of his book, I searched Amazon to see if the handful of holocaust revisionism titles I’m familiar with were still there. (Disclaimer: I have only read a few books on this subject and am not a revisionist, just an open-minded truth-seeker and defender of freedom of inquiry.)
So which books have been taken down?
Thomas Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides is by far the best book I have read on the Holocaust controversy. It is thorough, precise, well-documented, and lays out a convincing prima facia case that holocaust revisionism needs to be taken seriously. Scholarly, dispassionate, and utterly lacking in anything that could remotely be called “hate” or bigotry, Debating the Holocaust is no longer available on Amazon. And that is an outrage.
Nick Kollerstrom’s Breaking the Spell is also missing in action from Amazon.com. A History of Science Ph.D. with a specialty in chemistry, Dr. Kollerstrom was summarily fired, with no reason given, from University College of London after he published a scholarly article critiquing the evidence for mass execution cyanide gas chambers in the Nazi camps. His book Breaking the Spell lays out his conclusions — including his explanation of how the rumor of mass gassings was initiated by British war propagandists in 1942, then snowballed as the Nazis applied copious amounts of Zyklon-B in minature “gas chambers” to the clothing and bedding of inmates to kill lice and stem that summer’s typhus outbreak.
So now Kollerstrom has not only been fired for voicing heretical views, but he can’t even offer them in book form to the mass reading public.
Another revisionist I’ve read, though not extensively, is Dr. Robert Faurisson. A convert to Islam, Faurisson is wildly popular in Morocco, where his books were recommended to me by academic colleagues there during my year of Fulbright-sponsored Ph.D. research in 1999-2000.
Has Faurisson’s Amazon catalogue been tampered with? I can’t tell; but there certainly is a shocking paucity of affordable Faurisson offerings there. The only volume of his available for less than $40 is the 1981 Journal of Historical Review v.2 n.4 he co-edited with Phillip Beck. The bulk of his work is “currently unavailable.”
How about Germar Rudolf, who (like Faurisson) has actually been imprisoned for his scholarly efforts on this controversial subject? I’m not really familiar with his work, but I understand that he is considered one of the most serious scholars in the revisionism field. Are his books still on Amazon? Apparently they are. But for how long?
Update: Rudolf’s books are in fact being removed – see below
Another very strong pro-holocaust-revisionism voice still up on Amazon is Gerard Menuhin, whose Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil is now selling for $90. It’s a passionate, eye-opening book, capable of upsetting mainstream readers’ preconceptions about a whole range of issues.
Listen to my radio interview with Gerard Menuhin.
And how about David Irving, who is considered a revisionist by Hollywood but not by most actual revisionists? Irving’s supposed masterpiece, Hitler’s War, is still available — for $80. (Apparently there is a market for these disreputable and dangerous books.)
The above list covers the “revisionists” I know anything about.
How about those who argue against them?
Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman’s Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? is available for less than five dollars. Unfortunately for anyone who cares about rational arguments and empirical evidence, Denying History is clearly inferior to Thomas Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust, which is no longer available on Amazon at any price.
Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, possibly the best-known anti-revisionism book, is also the most shockingly vapid. Lipstadt makes little effort to argue her case on its merits, but instead spends virtually the entire 304 pages lobbing hysterical ad-hominem arguments. The only sane reaction to Lipstadt’s unbelievably lame volume is: “If this is the best the anti-revisionists can do, no wonder they have to try to get revisionists’ books banned!” You can get a used copy for less than two dollars and fifty cents.
So here is the takeaway:
Attention, Amazon shoppers! You can still buy bad and mediocre books arguing that holocaust revisionists are wrong — but you are not permitted to buy better books (including at least one very good book, Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust) that might lead you to the opposite conclusion.
Update: This just in from Germar Rudolph (who also published his own blog post “Amazon Mass-Bans Dissident Materials: Hundreds of Titles Erased within a Day”)
Dear Dr. Barrett:
In your latest article, which I read with interest and gratitude, you write about a handful of revisionist books. Well, what an understatement. While Castle Hill Publishers might be the biggest fish in the revisionist teapot, we’re by far not the only ones publishing books in that field. But from our program alone, the following 68 titles were banned on March 6. Use the links provided to see for yourself.
|Title||ISBN||Amazon USA||Amazon UK|
|Auswanderung der Juden…||1591480841||Amazon USA||Amazon UK|
|Jewish Emigration from the Third…||1591481252||Amazon USA||Amazon UK|
|The First Holocaust||1591481163||Amazon USA||Amazon UK|
|The Central Construction Office…||1591481120||Amazon USA||Amazon UK|
|Die Zentralbauleitung…||1591480507||Amazon USA||Amazon UK|
The first two deal with Jewish emigration from the Third Reich prior to the war. It is based on mainstream sources and does not touch upon the extermination issue. The third deals with Jewish fundraising campaigns during and after the FIRST World War, and does therefore already for chronological reason not deal with the Jewish Holocaust of the SECOND World War. The last two books are highly esoteric studies of the organization, responsibilities and activities of the Central Construction Office at Auschwitz, which was in charge of building and maintaining the camp’s infrastructure. It is based on original wartime archival material and is not dealing with extermination claims of Auschwitz at all. The book has even been cited as a source by mainstream historians.
The sweeping mass ban enforced within hours, and the senseless aimlessness and random nature with which it was implemented, clearly show that these books were not pulled because their content was checked and found impermissible, but because someone (probably Yad Vashem) had sent them a list of items to ban, and Amazon simply complied by checking off all the items on that list.