April 10, 2010 in Features, News

Dangers of Holocaust Denial

Phillip Yan Gonzaga Prep
 

Dear President Ahmadinejad:

For a vast portion of humanity, Hitler’s “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” —the systematic extermination of Europe’s Jewish population during the Second World War— is regarded as one of the most notorious examples of ethnic murder throughout history. Nevertheless, a respectable controversy exists over the reality of this particular incident; established beliefs endorsing the legitimacy of the Holocaust have been challenged by a movement aptly termed “Holocaust denial.” The intent and method through which deniers have chosen to raise a “rational inquiry,” however, are appallingly at fault. By typically assuming the facade of “historical revisionists,” the aforementioned group utilizes misconstrued information as propaganda to discretely breed animosity for the Jewish people. The victimized Jews are portrayed as exploiting post-Holocaust guilt to advance personal interests, and consequently, Anti-Semitism has become even more so a contributing factor to hostilities in the Middle East than it was historically. Iran, as a model towards contentious nations, ought to seriously reconsider its position on the Holocaust issue not only due to moral obligations, but also for the sake of improving the state of affairs in the locality.

Disregarding the ethical consequences of overlooking genocide for a brief moment, Holocaust denial theory is littered with logical fallacy. Many deniers of the Holocaust collectively opt to label themselves as “history revisionists” despite failing to adhere to accepted standards of conduct for the occupation. That is, rather than utilizing an approach which seeks to renew outdated information with more accurate findings, Holocaust denial theory, as essentially an attempt to rewrite history, is guilty of forming its premise around the predetermined conclusion that the Holocaust did not happen as is accepted in mainstream history. The method of Holocaust revisionism as proposed by deniers demands that former facts be molded to suit a pre-conceptualized outcome; thus “real” events proven objectively through pre-existing evidence are denied and the same evidence is distorted and manipulated to suggest an alternative result. While many branching perspectives have arisen amongst various deniers, dogmas initially forming the core of the denial movement have been maintained, including: the Nazis had not masterminded any official policy to exterminate the Jews. Holocaust deniers often question the authenticity of the Holocaust on account of a lack of objective documentation formally depicting a Nazi genocide, and in the process, critiquing opposing scholars for relying on unreliable survivor testimonies as the basis for their evidence. However, the genocide was, in fact, heavily documented by the German bureaucracy itself. Raul Hilberg writes in his three-volume edition of The Destruction of the European Jew that from 1933 to 1945 Nazi Germany generated a great amount of documents, of which many were lost in Allied bombings or destroyed systematically in the Nazi retreats and anticipation of surrender. Despite this, the vast quantity of paperwork was enough to survive in great numbers and forms the basis of primary sources recording the Holocaust.

Throughout the Western world, the Holocaust is largely regarded as unique story whose moral function transcends the boundary of ethnic specificity; many recognize that to overlook its victims is to commit a severe ethical wrongdoing. Despite having been originally a western notion however, modern day Holocaust denial has managed to allocate a source in the Middle East, where anti-Semitism has emerged as a clever instrument in the political scene. Although Jewish discrimination in the Middle East has been ever-prevalent, the establishment of Israel following the conclusion of World War II has resonated with deep-seated, anti-Zionist Islamic attitudes to produce the conviction of contemporary anti-Semitic beliefs. Because prejudice against the Jewish people has thus become such a unifying factor in the Middle East, the Iranian regime’s decision to adopt a controversial stance on the Holocaust denial has regrettably been the result of deliberate, strategic planning to bring together otherwise disparate groups under a hateful union. To preserve a peaceful cohabitation between the Israelis and neighboring Middle Easterners is crucial; Iran should seek to become a facilitator of collaboration rather than to pursue a policy that shall reopen old wounds.

Sincerely,

Phillip Yan


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