Irving v. Lipstadt

Judgement

Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles Gray

Table of Contents

Anti-semitism

9.9 In regard to his attitude towards Jews, Irving asserted that there is no reason why the Jews should be immune from criticism, but that is not to be equated with anti-semitism. It is not anti-semitic to make a statement hostile to Jews if the statement is justified.
9.10 In the course of the trial I acceded to a request by Irving to listen to a video, about one hour in length, of a speech delivered by him fluently and without notes to an audience in Tampa, Florida in October 1995. (The text of part of that speech is set out at (vii) in paragraph 9.5 above).The purpose, as I understood, was that in that speech Irving deployed his argument as to the reason for the existence of anti-semitism. He said that, if the argument is properly understood, it demonstrates that he is not anti-semitic. I hope I do not over-simplify the argument if I summarise it in this way: Jews have been hated for 3000 years. They are hated wherever they go. Instead of pointing the finger at those are anti-semtic, they should ask themselves why they are anti-semitic; why do they persistently attract an anti-semitic reaction. The answer is that they provoke the anti-semitism by their own actions. Irving cited examples, including claims for huge compensation from the Germans for the Holocaust and dishonesty on the part of Jewish financiers. The Jews have brought the anti-semitism on themselves by their own conduct and   attitudes. Irving argued that in this speech he was explaining anti-semitism and not justifying it. That was what he claimed he meant when he answered in the affirmative the question asked of him at the meeting in Tampa: "Are you trying to suggest that [the Jews] are responsible for Auschwitz [themselves]?"
9.11 Irving agreed that he had criticised individuals Jews, including on sevral occasions survivors of the Holocaust or those claiming to be survivors. But, he explained, the criticism was not anti-semitic. Thus the rhetorical question which Irving asked Mrs Altman, the woman with an Auschwitz tattoo on her arm, how much money have you made out of that tattoo since 1945, was indeed a criticism of Mrs Altman but there was nothing anti-semitic about it.
9.12 When asked by Mr Rampton in cross-examination what was the origin of the anecdote included in his speech in Milton, Ontario 1991 about the portable telephone box supposedly used to gas Jewish escapees from Auschwitz, Irving replied that it derived from an account by an Auschwitz survivor. He was, however, unable to recall who the witness was or when he heard about it. He accepted that the claim that the Jews were lured to enter the box by the telephone bell ringing was an "embellishment". Irving explained that he wanted to capture the attention of his audience. He justified his use of this "ludicrous" story by saying that it illustrates the problem with eye-witness evidence about the death camps, namely that such witnesses convince themselves of the truth of manifestly incredible events. He was unable to explain why the audience found the story so funny. He repudiated the suggestion that he was feeding the anti-semitism of his audience instead of discussing the eye-witness evidence as a serious historian would do. Irving argued that he was not talking about Jews in that part of his speech.
9.13 Irving defended his comment in the same speech that more people died in the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. He claimed that in his speech he had in fact referred to the gas chambers of Auschwitz "which are shown to the tourists", that is, the gas chambers which were reconstructed after the war. He claimed he always added those words. Irving explained that the applause from the audience had drowned those last words of the sentence. But, when the video was played, it was apparent, as Irving had to accept, that he had not added the words "which are shown to the tourists". Irving had to accept also that he has on other occasions, for example at Moers in Canada in 1990,   claimed that the extermination camps not only at Auschwitz but also elsewhere are "dummies".
9.14 Irving agreed that on occasion he has been provoked into making insulting remarks about Jews. His remark, set out at (xiv) in paragraph 9.5 above, in which he made reference to the sum of humanities including homosexuals, gypsies, homosexuals and Jews, was made in circumstances of extreme pressure when his home was being besieged by rioters who, according to Irving, included members of all those groups. He was describing, literally, those whom he could see on the other side of the barricades. Similarly his adverse characterisation of Simon Wiesenthal was not because he is a Jew but because he is ugly.
9.15 Irving explained that the object of his reference to the "Association of spurious survivors of Auschwitz" was to mock the so-called eye-witnesses who tell lies about what happened to them. His reference to their needing psychiatric treatment while admittedly tasteless was of drawing attention to the problem that these witnesses are deluding themselves about their experiences. Irving claimed that the reference was greeted by renewed applause from the audience because he is a good speaker and not because the audience was composed of like minded anti-semites and neo-Nazis.
9.16 Irving denied he adopts or promotes a stereotype of the ugly, greedy Jew. Rather he employs that stereotype to explore how it came into existence and to give a warning to Jews against taking actions that may reinforce it. When asked about his statement, that the perception the world has of the Jewish people is one of greed to which they contribute by their behaviour, Irving replied that he was investigating the reasons why people become anti-semitic. He was just putting himself into the skin of an anti-semite. Irving defended his derogatory references to the physical appearance and names of a number of Jews as making fun of them.
9.17 As I have already recorded in section III above, Irving believes that self-appointed leaders of the Jewish community are persecuting him by suppressing his freedom of speech and seeking to abrogate his right to travel around the world. They are amongst "the tradition enemies of the truth". That being so, Irving argued that he has every right to criticise them for doing so without attracting the label of anti-semitism. Irving defends his reference to members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews as "cockroaches" because he regards them as being responsible for an attempt   to destroy his professional career and family by persuading his American publisher not to publish his books. When challenged to produce his evidence for that accusation, Irving produced the minute of a meeting (which post-dated his reference to "cockroaches") in which the representatives of the Board who were present agreed not to take any action.