Throughout the history of international Holocaust denial, few interviews with deniers appear in mainstream media. To interview them is a double-edged sword in which the journalist achieves little. Either he manages to carry out his interview and to raise reader awareness of a falsifier of history, or the journalist fails by providing an open forum to a Holocaust denier who is presented as a victim and/or defender of historical truth.
I am surprised that The Jerusalem Post (in an interview which appeared on September 2nd 2015) allowed itself to be caught in David Irving's game.
First, these guided tours of concentration camps organized by Irving are a farce. Any associations that attempt to oppose them might be successful in banning them, in which case Irving could claim to be the victim of censorship, gaining publicity in doing so. On the other hand, if these tours are not banned, Irving creates media buzz in the camps. In short, one way or another, he wins.
I regret that The Jerusalem Post didn't quote the judgment from Irving's trial in April 2000 in England. The Court of Justice unambiguously declared Irving anti-Semitic by ideology and by neo-Nazi contacts, and also declared Irving a Holocaust denier who falsifies historical truth.
Judge Gray found that Irving had "for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence" in order to portray Hitler "in an unwarrantedly favorable light" particularly in his treatment of the Jews. Irving had "significantly" misrepresented, misconstrued, omitted, mistranslated, misread and applied double standards to the historical evidence in order to achieve his ideological presentation of history. Judge Gray also found that Irving was an "active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism."
(Note from the website, Holocaust Denial on Trial, where D. Lipstadt, gives all the defense documents: http://www.hdot.org/en/trial/)
The interview should also have highlighted the contradictions within Irving's allegations, but did not. The newspaper allowed David Irving to speak out. He was able to convey his motives, responding to "people confused by the conflicting versions of history," in other words, giving another version of history to skeptics.
To the question about anti-Semitism raging in Europe, he replied that the Jews should ask themselves why they are the ones who are attacked. He ends by denying being anti-Semitic and the "not yet" (regarding his anti-Semitism), is the icing on the cake that should have signaled to The Jerusalem Post that they should not have published the interview.
As a specialist on Holocaust denial, I give seminars at Yad Vashem on the subject for French teachers who come to improve their knowledge of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, Holocaust denial is rampant in French classrooms and teachers are bombarded with expressions of denial from their students. In addition, Holocaust denial is growing. Maybe one day, Israeli students will also have doubts. Last year, for example, Israeli writer and musician Gilad Atzmon gave his support to the famous Holocaust denier R. Faurisson. There can be no room for discussion with deniers.
There are two ways to respond to deniers: either to refute their allegations with Holocaust facts and proof, or to unmask them by exposing their extreme ideology. What did The Jerusalem Post do, except give him free advertisement for his guided tours of the concentration camps?
How should historians, associations, and activists who fight against Holocaust Denial react to this interview? If we don't react, we leave the door open, creating a dangerous precedent. However, if we react with public condemnation, we only increase their exposure.
For lack of having trapped D. Irving, The Jerusalem Post trapped us.