Monday, January 25, 2021

  • Monday, January 25, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

We have discussed the excellent IHRA definition of antisemitism many times, and praised the recent handbook released by the EU as one of the best explanations of that definition and how it can be practically used.

In 2013, the IHRA also came out with a working definition of Holocaust denial and distortion.

The "distortion" part of the definition says:
Distortion of the Holocaust refers, inter alia, to:

Intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany;
Gross minimization of the number of the victims of the Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources;
Attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide;
Statements that cast the Holocaust as a positive historical event. Those statements are not Holocaust denial but are closely connected to it as a radical form of antisemitism.  They may suggest that the Holocaust did not go far enough in accomplishing its goal of “the Final Solution of the Jewish Question”;
Attempts to blur the responsibility for the establishment of concentration and death camps devised and operated by Nazi Germany by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups.
Recently it released a handbook, "Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers," to help apply these principles.

This is essential work. 

But unlike the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, the IHRA working definition of Holocaust distortion ignores one of the most widespread examples we see today: Holocaust inversion.

Lesley Klaff describes Holocaust inversion:
What has been called ‘Holocaust Inversion’ involves an inversion of reality (the Israelis are cast as the ‘new’ Nazis and the Palestinians as the ‘new’ Jews), and an inversion of morality (the Holocaust is presented as a moral lesson for, or even a moral indictment of ‘the Jews’). More: those who object to these inversions are told that they are acting in bad faith, only being concerned to deflect criticism of Israel. In short, the Holocaust, an event accurately described by Dan Diner as a ‘rupture in civilisation,’ organised by a regime that, as the political philosopher Leo Strauss observed, ‘had no other clear principle except murderous hatred of the Jews,’ is now being used, instrumentally, as a means to express animosity towards the homeland of the Jews. ‘The victims have become perpetrators’ is being heard more and more. That is Holocaust Inversion.
This reprehensible comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany, so widespread among the antisemitic Left, is ignored by IHRA in its working definition of Holocaust distortion, and even in the expanded examples given in the new handbook. 

The closest it gets it this:
The use of imagery and language associated with the Holocaust for political, ideological, or commercial purposes unrelated to this history in online and offline forums.
This refers to things like comparing slaughtering animals for food, or abortions, to the Holocaust. As disgusting as those comparisons are, the motivation behind Holocaust inversion is much different than those types of Holocaust distortion. The people who make such a comparison are saying that the Holocaust and Israeli actions are tightly linked - that Jews learned cruelty from the Nazis and now apply it to Palestinians, which is much different than making a rhetorical, specious comparison of non-related events to the Holocaust.

Which means that this obvious example of Holocaust distortion by Carlos Latuff is not covered by the IHRA working definition.


We cannot know for sure why these sickening and antisemitic distortions of the Holocaust are excluded by the IHRA, but it appears to be deliberate - and political.

Every example of Holocaust distortion mentioned by the IHRA are those that typically come from the Right, while Holocaust inversion is nearly exclusively from the Left.

Most troublingly, the source of this omission may come from Germany itself.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gives some of the background behind this new handbook in an op-ed for CNN:

As the current chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), Germany therefore wants to move forward the fight against such dangerous lies, the distortion of facts and the trivialization of the Holocaust, also at a global level. We have therefore initiated a Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion so that, together with our partners, we can defend these universal values. This week, leading international researchers have presented to us their recommendations for countering Holocaust distortion. These indicate there is an urgent need for action...

[T]he current digital nature of anti-Semitism means that it knows no borders. That is why, now more than ever, we must combat it globally, in a coordinated way. It may not always be easy to draw a line between freedom of opinion and hate speech, between ignorance and the deliberate distortion of facts.

So, as a first step, it is important for us and our global partners to develop a common understanding of what we consider as Holocaust distortion, and how to combat it. We are working on this together with our partners in the IHRA, the European Union, UNESCO, the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). However, domestic authorities, too, must be part of the effort. A recent study shows how, already today, right-wing terrorists and conspiracy theorists are forging close networks online. Our security authorities must counter them by working in even closer coordination.
Maas even says "anti-Semitism has not disappeared. It just keeps shape-shifting," which is a good description of the new antisemitism from the Left that is covered by the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. Yet the only examples he gives come from right-wing antisemites - even though the most prevalent types of Holocaust distortion nowadays are almost exclusively from the Left.






It appears that the IHRA group that worked for years on this project has been hijacked by politics to exclude the worst kinds of Holocaust distortion that can be seen every day.  

The IHRA's entire moral authority comes from it being above such politics. When it seemingly deliberately excludes Holocaust inversion from its definition of Holocaust distortion, it loses some of its credibility - which in turn weakens the other excellent work it does.

This handbook should be revised immediately to include Holocaust inversion as a prominent example of modern Holocaust distortion.







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