Irving v. Lipstadt

Judgement

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

Table of Contents

Anti-semitism

13.101 It appears to me to be undeniable that most, if not all, of the statements set out in paragraph 9.5 reveal clear evidence that, in the absence of any excuse or suitable explanation for what he said or wrote, Irving is anti-semitic. His words are directed against Jews, either individually or collectively, in the sense that they are by turns hostile, critical, offensive and derisory in their references to semitic people, their characteristics and appearances. A few examples will suffice: Irving has made claims that the Jews deserve to be disliked; that they brought the Holocaust on themselves; that Jewish financiers are crooked; that Jews generate anti-semitism by their greed and mendacity; that it is bad luck for Mr Wiesel to be called 'Weasel'; that Jews are amongst the scum of humanity; that Jews scurry and hide furtively, unable to stand the light of day; that Simon Wiesenthal has a hideous, leering evil face; and so on.
13.102 In the preceding paragraph I did introduce the caveat that the evidence of Irving's anti-semitism is clear in the absence of any excuse or sensible explanation for his words. It is possible to envisage circumstances in which words, which on their face are anti-semitic, turn out on analysis to be susceptible of innocent explanation. Irving did advance a number of reasons why he claims it is unreasonable to regard him as an anti-semite. I have summarised them at paragraphs 9.9 to 9.17 above.
13.103 The principal explanation or justification offered by Irving for his comments about Jews is that he is seeking to explain to Jews why anti-semitism exists and not himself adopting the anti-semitism. But I do not think that this was the message that Irving was seeking to convey to his audiences and it was certainly not the sense in which his remarks were understood. Irving advances a similar justification of his characterisation of   the Jewish stereotype as an attempt to warn Jews not to enhance by their conduct the negative public perception of them. If this were Irving's objective, I do not believe that he would have used such offensive language. If (as Irving claims) his remark about Wiesenthal was a joke, it was an anti-semitic joke.
13.104 I have more sympathy for Irving's argument that Jews are not immune from his criticism. He said that he was simply expressing legitimate criticisms of them. Irving gave as an example what he claimed was his justified criticism of the Jews for suppressing his freedom of expression. Another legitimate ground of criticism might be the manner in which Jews in certain parts of the world appear to exploit the Holocaust. I agree that Jews are as open to criticism as anyone else. But it appears to me that Irving has repeatedly crossed the divide between legitimate criticism and prejudiced vilification of the Jewish race and people. I can well understand too that, because of his perceived views, Irving and his family have from time to time been subjected to extreme pressure, for example when his flat house was besieged by rioters in 1994 (see paragraph 9.14 above). In the heat of the moment ill-considered remarks are often made. But it is in just such circumstances that racial prejudice manifests itself. In my view that is what occurred in 1994.
13.105 The inference which in my judgment is clearly to be drawn from what Irving has said and written is that he is anti-semitic.