Ignoring Evil is Evil
Daryl Temkin, Ph.D.
In the mid-1970’s, while completing my undergraduate degree at UCLA, I recall a particular ad that appeared in the university’s newspaper, The Daily Bruin. The ad was an invitation to hear the “real story” of the Holocaust and was sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, — not the ADL or the “1939 Holocaust Survivors’ Club”.
Upon seeing that ad, I and many others considered it to represent the delusions of a “crazed and ignorant” person who should simply be ignored. That was also the general thought in the Jewish community — ignore it and it will go away.
The philosophy of “ignoring” often works well for muscle pain or even a headache, which usually dissipates over time. However, the technique of “ignoring” would be a foolish prescription if the pain was an important indicator of a serious pending disease. When serious signs are ignored, the word “ignore” often grows into to the word “ignorance”.
That experience of my undergraduate years was forgotten until several years later when I again met the “Institute for Historical Review”. This institute had now published their first quarterly journal, slick and academic-looking, and with a table of contents featuring articles penned by authors with the letters, Ph.D. after their names. This was my introduction to published academic manipulation and deception, which at that time was still a counter-intuitive concept. My naiveté was broken, and a new as well as unpleasant realization about academics and university professors had to be analyzed and perceived.
Upon seeing this journal, I remembered my UCLA experience and quickly formulated two theories as to why this movement of Holocaust denial was significant. One theory had to do with the academic belief that “evil” and “evil people” do not exist, and the other theory was a simple addition to the literature of anti-Semitism and support of the Israel illegitimacy movement.
Arguing against the existence of evil and evil actions has been an ongoing “cause” among large groups of academics. By denying evil or claiming that one man’s evil is another man’s good — meaning that evil is only a matter of opinion — represents an attempt to abolish standards, consequences, and objective responsibility.
The levels of human responsibility connected to the Holocaust are huge and require us to learn significant lessons from this catastrophe. The common Holocaust question is “how was it possible for this to have happened?” The serious answers to that question end up pointing fingers of responsibility in a number of painful directions commonly uncovering shameful actions or abundant and abhorrent inactions.
Successful Holocaust denial would effectively remove the blame and responsibility from complacent humans, appeasing or silent political leaders, academic elite, cultural elite, anti-Semites, the Church, Germany, as well as the the Nazis and the infamous Nazi leaders. Holocaust denial allows for the avoidance of ever dealing with or learning from the grave mistakes of ignoring aggression, responding with silence, believing evil things won’t really happen, endless complacency, as well as the short sighted and even blinded “idealistic” predictions of Western leaders. Successful Holocaust denial would absolve society from any demands to rectify even one aspect of behavior following such a blatant historic calamity.
Then, there is the other “logical reason” for Holocaust denial. Years ago, this point may have been ambiguous but now it is undeniably clear. The denial strategy is, to crack the Holocaust “myth” and at least claim that the Holocaust wasn’t so extreme, the death statistics are much smaller than the Jews claim, the overall event wasn’t so bad, the gas chambers weren’t for people but for disinfection, the Jews really didn’t suffer so much, and claim that other nationalities suffered much more than the Jews. When these points are accepted, suddenly the world’s previously believed impetus for creating the Jewish State is shown to be a major “historic” fallacy, falsehood, and an outright lie. The anti- Semitic mantra that the Jews are “professional liars” rings true for the Holocaust deniers. Plus the Arab propaganda has already been actively teaching that the Five Books of Moses, the Torah, is another Jewish lie filled with misleading fabrications including the “false” claim that the Jews are connected to the land of Israel.
In this vein, Holocaust denial supports the anti- Semitic propaganda which claims that Jews want to control the world. They believe that through the Holocaust, Jews falsely have convinced and thereby have convicted the world of a “made-up” genocidal crime, in order to manipulate and obligate the nations to grant the establishment of a Jewish state.
Iran’s latest shenanigan of convening an international Holocaust deniers conference featuring the “credible” KKK Grand Wizard, David Duke along with the other featured act of the “Jewish looking clowns”, the Neturei Karta, may depict the sad and ludicrous quality of the conference delegates. However, not to be “ignored” is the line up of Holocaust deniers with academic letters following their names. For their shameful acts, the Hasidic- looking Neturi Karta are being excommunicated again from the Jewish people.
Knowledgeable Jews know that this group of “act-like Jews” are marginalized and are considered nothing but a freak aberration. However, who will there be to “excommunicate” or marginalize the Holocaust denial professors from their universities and institutes of higher leaning? Or will the university faculties and administrations just say that their schools provide professors with a wide and diverse historic perspective?
Many would like to pass off this Iranian Holocaust deniers’ conference as “laughable” and “inconsequential”. However, it has to be understood that a sizable part of the Islamic and Arab world (1.2 – 1.4 billion people) as well as others in the Western world not only sympathize with this agenda, but have been raised only knowing this “perspective”.
The increasing attempt to delegitimize Israel is happening in a multi-front and multi-dimensional battle. Holocaust denial is just one of those battle fronts. This is a “pain” that is not to be ignored. The pain will not go away, because it is actively being used and fostered to erode Israel’s political, economic and cultural support, and it will form a fictitious basis to further justify Iran’s nuclear desires.
It is important to understand that the Holocaust denial conference’s outcome is designed in a “win- win” fashion. If they conclude that the Holocaust didn’t happen or is questionable, then the State of Israel has no legitimacy and is worthy of “justifiable” destruction. On the other hand, if the Holocaust did happen, then it is the total fault of the Europeans — and the state of Israel must be transferred on to European soil thereby totally removing it from “Arab” land.
How clever to have such a well designed “win- win” result pattern. But what the anti-Semites and even much of the Jewish world must understand is that Israel’s existence is not because of the Holocaust. The Holocaust which did happen and rates as one of the most documented events in human history, was not the reason the State of Israel came into existence. The Holocaust was only an additional proof to the world that evil anti- Semitism is real and the Jews need a national homeland. Even according to difficult to deny and vast amounts of ancient archeology findings, Israel is the time honored 3,000 year old Jewish national homeland.
Note this small historic reminder: Theodore Herzl, the Father of modern Zionism, initiated the Jewish return to Israel long before Adolph Hitler graduated elementary school. The League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, in 1922, voted for the establishment of Jewish Palestine, long before Hitler entered politics and long before there was a Holocaust to be denied.
Holocaust denial is developed and promoted by people who are interested in evil outcomes. Ignoring evil is evil. When applied to evil, to “ignore” is to become “ignorant”. At this time in life, there is no place for the luxury to experiment with ignorance.
Daryl Temkin, Ph.D. is the director of the Israel Education Institute which is devoted to teaching history and contemporary issues of Israel to Jews and Non-Jews throughout the world. He can be reached at: DT@Israel-Institute.com.