The American professor who won a landmark legal battle against Holocaust denier David Irving has said Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has made “softcore” Holocaust denial acceptable.
Dr Deborah Lipstadt, who was sued by Irving for libel in 2000, made the claims while speaking at the Holocaust Education Trust’s annual Ambassadors’ Conference in Westminster.
The professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University, who said Corbyn’s leadership had led to anti-Semitism becoming “embedded” in the party, suggested it was now socially acceptable to show disdain or intolerance towards the Holocaust.
“What we see today more of is softcore Holocaust denial… Where everything becomes a genocide, where people say ‘I’m so tired of hearing about this, why am I always hearing about the Holocaust, too much about the Holocaust, oh you Jews and the Holocaust, jokes about the Holocaust…’”
The academic described how comparisons between the conduct of Israeli soldiers and the Nazis fell into this category, saying: “To talk about a genocide, or to talk about the Nazi-like tactics of the Israeli army is ludicrous.
“Every army makes mistakes, every army does things wrong. There are things the Israeli army does wrong, but to compare it to Nazis is softcore denial.”
In making her point, she made reference to former London mayor Ken Livingstone and his inflammatory comments about Hitler and Zionists, for which the Corbyn ally finally resigned his membership of the Labour party earlier this year.
On Livingstone’s remarks, she said: “That’s the kind of softcore denial I worry about much more. It’s subtly anti-Semitic and it’s clearly denial because it rewrites history.”
Two years ago Lipstadt’s story was made into a film called ‘Denial’ starring Rachel Weisz, which in turn was made into a ‘History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.’
Following the conference, HET chief executive Karen Pollock backed up Lipstadt’s claims, saying the professor was “right to draw attention to examples in the UK where the history of the Holocaust is deliberately distorted”.
She said: “It may not seem as obvious to some, but the intent to diminish the memory and undermine the truth is clear. This ‘softcore’ denial as described by Deborah seeps into society and becomes normalised if it goes unchecked.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said Corbyn was “a militant opponent of anti-Semitism,” adding: “Any complaints of anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial, are taken extremely seriously and are fully investigated, and appropriate disciplinary action, in line with Party rules and procedures.”
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