One of the most difficult subjects to explore in one article is the current “underground confrontation” (for the lack of a better description ) between World War II revisionist historians and their detractors. The term “debate” would not have worked because, for the first time in the history of post-colonial Western civilization, a single influential lobby representing an ethnic group was able to criminalize the mere debating of a historical event, namely the “Jewish Holocaust”.
For example, in France, Germany and Switzerland, any slight deviation outside the officially scripted version of this episode in history will end you up in legal trouble under the bizarre crime of “Holocaust denial”. Meanwhile, this subject remains an equally untouchable taboo in the rest of the world. Agree or disagree with the revisionists, it must be said that the current persecution and silencing of revisionist historians in the West will be remembered as one of the most unbelievable and shameful blemishes to ever tarnish Western liberal democracies.
But while it is totally baffling to think how such a mediaeval form of censorship could creep into Western societies today, in Arab jurisdictions where we can still discuss this matter, we should nevertheless do so without losing track of the main issue, which is the question of the true extent of the Nazi crimes against European Jewry.
In this regard, we must take issue against the fervent followers of the revisionist historians in the Arab world, especially those in Jordan who took it upon themselves to champion this cause on the 53rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.
In their own words, the Arab revisionists tell us that World War II revisionists come in all sorts. They range from honest historians who valiantly seek the truth to Christian fundamentalists, to racists and bigots who have no interest in such things as the truth. Nevertheless, the Arab revisionists and the conferences they organise have sadly lumped all the revisionists together and did not care to separate the good from the rotten.
The danger of this irresponsible endorsement of the entire revisionist trend in one lot is most devastating to our own efforts to expose the murderous policies of the state of Israel, because in the world public opinion it associates our just cause for liberation with all sorts of despicable hate groups that could care less about our existence, let alone our freedom and well-being.
Such an association with these groups can only give credence to the Zionist ridiculous claims that the Arabs, like the Germans, have an inborn exterminatory hatred for the Jews. Meanwhile, our true grievances against 53 years of occupation, massacres, deportations and dispossession are bound to get lost in the heat of this unnecessary and untimely debacle.
Moreover, these Arab revisionists are obviously not qualified to venture into this subject because almost all of them, like this writer, are not scholars or historians specialised in the history of World War II. They have joined the revisionist bandwagon with the declared aim of exposing the Zionist exploitation of the Holocaust which is incessantly being used to justify the expansionist policies of Israel, disguise its brutality and silence its critics.
True, Zionists the world over have been shamelessly extorting money and milking political acquiescence in the name of the Holocaust. But the Arab revisionists are not going to succeed or move one inch towards exposing this travesty, for a simple reason. They never bring themselves close to at least paying lip service to the true horror of what befell the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, and thus will always be seen as a group of insensitive hate-mongers riding the revisionist wave for ulterior motives.
One needs to briefly review the position of the revisionists to see why it is futile and damaging for Arabs to be seen advocating their cause.
It should be said that no one inside the revisionists’ camp (save for a fanatical few) questions the fact that hundreds of thousands of Jews died in World War II. What they question is the policy that caused their deaths, the method by which they were killed and the number of the victims. In other words, they claim that there are no documents to prove that it was the policy of the Third Reich to “systematically” mass murder the Jews, that there is no material evidence that extermination gas chambers existed, and that it was impossible that the Jews who perished could number six million.
What most revisionist historians admit however, but fail to emphasise in their literature, is that it is an undisputed fact that hundreds of thousands of Jews were in fact “systematically” besieged inside isolated ghettos and completely cut off from the rest of the world before and during the war. They don’t dispute that these people were so besieged for no other reason except that they were Jews. Revisionist historians also don’t dispute that the survivors of these ghettos, after resistance was crushed and the ghettos burned down, were then – also “systematically” – rounded up and sent to ghoulish concentration camps where they were incarcerated in sub-human conditions not befitting of animals. Again, they were sent there just because they were Jews. Finally, the revisionists don’t dispute that hundreds of thousands of these prisoners died in those camps (some revisionists accept up to three million). The revisionists, however, attribute these deaths to the breakdown of Germany during its final days of defeat when the entire military and civil infrastructure became dysfunctional and naturally, they say – not intentionally – many of the populations of these camps were left to die of hunger or typhus.
And here lies my main problem with the revisionist historians. I ask these people, who are supposedly out there for no other purpose except to defend the truth and fight the falsification of history, I plead with them to answer these questions: If entire families were admittedly “systematically” rounded up, after a long siege inside horrible ghettos, to be taken to remote prison camps for no other reason except because they are Jews, if these Jews were separated from their kin and summarily shot if they resisted, if these men, women and children were indeed abandoned to die slowly of typhus, rot in their excrement or get reduced to skeletons from starvation in the camps, if the revisionists accept that all of this did take place – perhaps not to six million Jews, but by their own admission, to at least more than two or three million – then in God’s name what difference does it make how these Jews were killed?
Is it any less of a bestial act to cause the deaths of millions of Jews in this slow and agonising manner? Is it any less criminal if the deportations of the Jews to the camps in the frenzy of Armageddon was not by an official decree to murder them, but merely to deport them? Was it not as obvious to the Nazis that such deportations under those circumstances would inevitably lead to the death of a great many, if not most, of the deportees?
Above all, why do the revisionists relate these supposedly revised facts about the Nazi treatment of the Jews without a word of condemnation of their equally terrible consequences?
What is disturbing with most of the revisionist historians is that they seek to present their version of the events of that era as some form of redemption of the Nazis. This is where, in my opinion, most of the revisionist historians shoot themselves in the foot, for the story of the Holocaust, according to them – without the official extermination policy, without the gas chambers and without the full six million – cannot be seen as any less of a deliberate and evil atrocity against the Jews than the current exaggerated version.
I must say here that if any of these revisionists, or any of us for that matter, were in the place of one of the unfortunate inmates slowly fading away of hunger or typhus in the Nazi concentration camps because of our ethnic or religious background, we would have probably begged our captors to relieve us of the misery by requesting instant and relatively painless death inside, well, a gas chamber. If extermination gas chambers did not exist – and revisionists may be right there – any one of us would still have prayed that the Germans would invent them as a form of mercy killing.
The point that I am trying to get across is that while we should strongly condemn and expose all those who exploit the ordeal of the Jews at the hands of Nazis for political or financial purposes – as Zionists are doing – we must not waste energy by seeking to undermine that immense suffering, as it will only backfire against us.
If we turn the tables, I would be rightly disturbed, like many other Arabs, if a supposedly neutral group of so-called revisionists attempt, for example, to undermine and question the number of villages eradicated by Israel in the ethnic cleansing of 1948. Although I would not advocate censorship as Zionists have done, still I would be justifiably annoyed if this group started casting doubts at the number of Palestinians butchered in the countless Israeli massacres since 1948. One thing for sure: I would definitely be extremely sceptical about the intentions of such a group, especially if they claim that they are purely after historical truth and wish Palestinians no harm.
Personally, I don’t believe the six million figure either. And I doubt that Hitler really wanted to cook the Jewish population of Europe inside gas ovens. But this is not the point. We simply should not allow the Zionist exploitation of this subject to lead us to dismiss the real extent of the barbarity of what the Nazis perpetrated.
As I write these words, a new Nazi regime, ironically from the offspring of those who suffered most at Nazi hands, is currently inflicting the same kind of bestiality upon a besieged and defenceless civilian population identical to that inflicted by SS officers upon the besieged and defenceless inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940. Not exactly identical, some would say? I will leave details for the revisionists to bicker about. In my eyes, murder of civilians by an occupying army is all the same.
This regime is using all sorts of deceptive propaganda and immoral manipulation techniques to tell the world that the desperate shots of resistance fired by the strangled victims constitute some form of terrorism threatening the existence of this nuclear-armed regional superpower. Meanwhile, this regime is relentlessly massacring our people with impunity, unleashing on them the most sophisticated arsenal of weaponry on earth. We do not help to dismantle the lies and fabrications or defend our people by indulging in a wasteful exercise of questioning and quantifying Jewish pain in World War II.
If that Jewish analogy need be invoked at all, these historians should instead divert their scholarly energy to draw parallels between the legitimate Jewish resistance to the Nazi siege in the ghettos and the legitimate Palestinian resistance to the same Israeli policy of siege, starvation and ruthless practice shooting and indiscriminate bombing of helpless civilians.
I understand that it is difficult to keep our sobriety in the midst of the current slaughter and under the current worldwide saturation with this story, or what has been appropriately termed “holocaust fatigue”. But we simply cannot afford to lose the moral high ground in our own struggle. We are against the Zionist exploitation of the Jewish tragedy and the current blackmailing of the world in its name, but we should never doubt the magnitude of the tragedy itself. On the contrary, it is our rejection of all forms of oppression and dehumanization, not our aimless revision of them, that should drive us to denounce the criminal actions of Israel and seek an end to its daily savagery.
The writer is a Jordanian attorney working in Geneva.