Holocaust denial is dead, but no one knows it. Worse, it appears as though no one wants to know. Not the media, not Jews, and especially not Jew-haters. But it’s true. Denial has gone the way of the woolly mammoth. It exists these days as a bogeyman, a bugbear, an illusion in the minds of hardcore anti-Semites and harder-core Semites. It’s a scarecrow that Jew-haters erect to frighten Jews and that Jews maintain to frighten themselves.
But let’s ease into that point. Better to begin at the cinema, where fantasies come alive…
On Friday, September 30th, the world will be treated to the premiere of the new motion picture Denial, which tells the story of how Deborah Lipstadt, the heroically plucky (or pluckily heroic) college professor and Holocaust scholar, prevailed in court after being sued for libel by the villainous, evil Holocaust denier David Irving. Lipstadt is played by Academy Award-winning actress Rachel Weisz, and Irving is portrayed by renowned bridge troll Timothy Spall. The director is Mick Jackson, the Brit responsible for Volcano (you remember that one, don’t you? About the volcano that sprouts up in the middle of L.A. to harass Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche. We all saw that one, right?).
The film is based on true events. In the mid-1990s, Irving sued Lipstadt for libel in an English court after she labeled him (among other things) a Holocaust denier, a racist and an anti-Semite, and a falsifier of history. Irving eventually lost the case, which had been argued before a judge rather than a jury (by mutual agreement of the plaintiff and defendant). The judge conceded that although Lipstadt had made several false accusations against Irving, the more serious of her claims—that he was a denier, a hater, an associate of haters, and a falsifier—were provable enough to excuse her from the charge of libel.