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Posted Friday, September 4, 1998


Holocaust Denial: a Definition

Australian Jewish News, March 30, 1998 [Re Holocaust Denial]

Teachers' meet looks at Holocaust denial


DENIAL of the Holocaust is the "final phase of genocide," Bialik College vice-principal Michael Cohen told a conference on teaching the Shoah in Sydney last month.

"By altering or erasing the past, deniers create an alternative present. They can then advance and complete the process of obliteration," he said.

Attended by eminent Holocaust scholars and 200 educators, the conference at Sydney's Moriah College provided a forum for different methodologies on teaching the Shoah to school-aged children.

While many students had difficulty comprehending the notion of Holocaust denial, if students were to learn to combat the claims of denier's, teachers should not deal with the issue purely on an emotional level, Mr Cohen said. Rather, students should familiarise themselves with the assertions of deniers, assess the quality of their evidence and study their motivations

Deniers attempted to legitimise their position by portraying themselves as revisionists, he said. But unlike genuine revisionist scholars, who use accepted evidence to re-interpret historical events, deniers contend that the events did not happen, Yad Vashem program director and Hebrew University Holocaust Studies Professor David Bankier agreed: "A revisionist may ask in what context Auschwitz should be placed historically. A denier simply says Auschwitz did not exist."

Both speakers agreed students should be discouraged from debating Holocaust deniers, because such people assumed that "a Jew always lies'.

Professor Bankier: "There is no point maintaining a discussion with people who will reject any proof you bring about the Holocaust as a Jewish myth concocted to gain land from the Palestinians or dollars from Germany."

They also agreed that deniers were motivated primarily by anti-semitism.

Our opinion
 WELL, IT'S a start. At least we now have a definition of what these woolly-minded people mean, when they waffle about "Holocaust deniers" -- a phrase which Deborah Lipstadt, of Emory University, Atlanta, claims the honour of having invented.

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