Berlin Diary: A Global Lawfare Conspiracy

Published: 2012-07-13
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If you took interest in last November’s Smith’s Report discussion of the impending Berlin conference of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ) headlined “Holocaust Denial and Free Speech in the Internet Era,” you will be pleased to learn that you can now “attend” the conference. Videos of the full fourteen sessions of the conference have been helpfully uploaded by the IAJLJ not only to their own Web site, but to YouTube as well. Most of the speakers are lawyers, and even those who are not often digress, if only in deference to their presumed audience, into long perorations on technicalities of law and jurisprudence.

I have viewed all fourteen videos in their full length, and here will undertake to guide the curious to which presentations are most interesting and which ones are not worth watching, most of the latter on account of technical glitches which have rendered the soundtrack either difficult to understand or, in some cases, absent altogether. Included with the following recommendations will be, even, tips as to the speakers’ accents in English (not the native language of most of them), and further tips to help Anglophones decipher individual peculiarities of pronunciation of certain key, repeated words in the recordings.

A theme to be noted in the urgent and plaintive laments of the lobby in question of how the Internet affords a voice to those who have not received any imprimatur from any sort of mediating or legitimizing body is that America’s First Amendment to the Constitution seems to afford all manner of scalawags the means of exposing their twisted views to the whole world, for goodness’ sake!

Overall, the proceedings are fascinating not only as to how those who seek to suppress inquiry into Holocaust history plot to do so among themselves, but further how these efforts proceed among the numerous jurisdictions (countries) in which they pursue their agenda. Included among these are Germany, Argentina, Canada, France, and, almost as an afterthought, the United States.

The comparison affords me an opportunity that I, as an American, find quite rare in view of my country’s foreign policy these past eleven years: an opportunity to view my country’s government, among those of other countries, favorably—even with a modicum of pride. This pleasure arises from a domestic policy that, however assaulted by hostile interests, seems so far to have demonstrated a robustness not to be seen among many other human rights rooted in America’s Constitution, namely, freedom of speech.

A theme to be noted in the urgent and plaintive laments of the lobby in question of how the Internet affords a voice to those who have not received any imprimatur from any sort of mediating or legitimizing body is that America’s First Amendment to the Constitution seems to afford all manner of scalawags the means of exposing their twisted views to the whole world, for goodness’ sake!

What might come of this newfound ability of any/everyman to address a potentially global audience with his own, personal, unsanctioned views is indeed anyone’s guess. But the guesses of those who seek to suppress open discussion of the Holocaust are dire indeed, apparently by some sort of fear, which they characterize as the dissemination of “anti-Semitic” sentiments.

Among the presentations may be noted a few that describe the concerted utilization of exactly this new technology for the purpose of disseminating today’s dominant views of the history in question. Utilization of this technology enjoys an implicit assumption by both speakers and audience that they themselves are forces for Good, while those of revisionists—among others—are by no means so favored by those foregathered here.

The speakers occasionally refer to talks that preceded theirs. Do not be distracted by such references; in no case are they such that one might miss an important point from not having heard the speech referred to. The speeches are displayed at http://tinyurl.com/87 evaz6 on the Web site in the order of their presentation; access them in that order if you seek an experience maximally resembling the experience of attending the conference. If, on the other hand, you might be content to “browse” the speeches according to the pertinence of their content or the accessibility of the speaker, then you may avail yourself of the following list, in which I have attempted, for the purposes of my audience, to present the performances in something like their level of reward for the modal revisionist.

Naama Shik, 35 min. (Israeli), is easily the star of this show. “Enemy” though she is, she conveys not just commitment, but passion in her work, which in no way (she says this) involves opposing or suppressing “Holocaust denial.” To the contrary, her program (that of her employer, Yad Vashem) entails what may honestly be called counter speech, however a-factual it may actually be. Yad Vashem in some ways resembles the Internet itself, in that it composes relatively little of its material but rather relays, on the Internet and via other media, the contributions of others, typically people who think they’re related to people who they think “were murdered” in “the Holocaust.” Shik styles this relaying as “education,” an arrogation typical not only of her tribe but of her employer and of the country she lives in.

She continually emphasizes a goal on her institution’s part to “train” its attendees in individual thought and evaluation of material. Such an agenda, if truly and faithfully followed, can only favor the discoveries of revisionists in the long run, regardless of whether this speaker realizes the fact. Among the startling views she espouses in her engaging presentation is the notion that Germans/Nazis are not soulless monsters, but rather human beings exactly like, as she says, “us.” Her talk includes actual samples, with soundtracks, of Yad Vashem online material, and so is informative on that score, too.

Eli Hacohen, 47 min. (Israeli), presents an informative historical overview of “Holocaust denial” on the Internet. He is obviously an authority on the subject, for one motivated by concerns rather different from those for whom this newsletter is written. While his facts are selected in accordance with his bias in the matter, they are credible and appear to provide pretty good coverage of the subject. Counter speech does not figure into his subject, and in fact suppression of “Holocaust denial” gets relatively little attention in this report. Accent: he refers to Arthur Butz with sounds that are difficult to recognize as such, and to his institution as “an Illinois university,” which provides less of a cue than “Northwestern University” would, at least to those familiar with the seminal work of the godfather of Holocaust revisionism. The speaker has nothing good to say about Dr. Butz or his work, of course. CODOH’s name flashes up in his visuals at about 29:35. The name of CODOH’s godfather makes no appearance at all, unfortunately.

The Opening Event, 15 min. (various), is pretty much formulaic, but it includes a brief talk by a representative of an organization that might have more influence on worldwide opinion than the IAJLJ and Israel put together, Google. Arnd Haller, Legal Director for Northern and Central Europe,

Google Germany, is assuredly not a partisan in the subject at hand, at least so far as his organizational affiliation (and his apparent ethnicity, for that matter) is concerned. Haller’s talk, larded as it was with genial platitudes and pious proclamations, steered clear entirely of the notion of suppression/censorship. To the contrary, his emphasis was, as might be expected, on what might be regarded as Google’s “product,” counter speech. He said the best way to counter “bad speech” was with “good speech.” For all his selfish motivations in so saying, his pronouncement to this effect was nonetheless heartening to this lover of speech-in-general and the freedom to disseminate it, whatever it might be. He refrained even from intoning devotion to “free speech,” which, in fact, all the other participants did as well.

Nimrod Kozlovski, 38 min. (Israeli): The subject is hacking, and exclusively that hacking done in support of “Holocaust denial.” He makes no mention of hacking against “Holocaust denial,” of which there are many examples, the fruits of some of which remain enshrined to this day on the Web site of Wikileaks. This speaker is a salesman for his employer, an Israeli cyber security supplier, but that fact chiefly seems to imbue his presentation with rather more feeling and content, however partisan its thrust might be (his employer’s Web site, unfortunately for Anglophones, is only in Hebrew). He discusses famous hacking events against Israel and sites advancing propaganda in that country’s interests. He notes that most hacking in the world seems to be done by and to governments, and within that ambit, among military and espionage organizations, among which Israel’s Mossad receives mention in connection with its famous StuxNet initiative directed against networks in Iran associated with that country’s nuclear-energy activities. He goes into considerable detail as to Turkish and Iranian efforts to hack various Israeli targets, official and private alike. Otherwise, his references unfortunately tend to be abstract, rather than detailing actual cases. Accent: his attempts to say “myth” sound like “meet.”

Christopher Wolf’s 27 min. (American) talk is interesting primarily since he is the only speaker who addresses the American situation. In the context of the talks concerning other countries, his country truly sounds like the “land of the free,” however much effective suppression frank discussion of Holohistory actually encounters there. He argues, perhaps in the context of his own country, that law just doesn’t work well for the purpose of suppressing revisionism. At no point does he express the slightest approval of the American tradition of free speech, though he makes frequent reference to it. The best thing he has to say about this crucial human right is that it affords a certain amount of relief to enforcement agencies, which in its absence would face an ultimately insuperable challenge in circumscribing it to any “useful” extent. One of his arguments against the use of law takes the peculiar form of noting that when legal countermeasures fail, they erode respect for law in general, and so such measures, when undertaken, must be so constituted and pursued as to have devastating effect against the target. He suggests that (extralegal) pressures on Yahoo, Google, and other such central actors offer promise of the “desired” results outside the framework of law-based initiatives. He also advocates education (indoctrination), without specifying whether this should be prescribed by law, as it in fact is in many American states. He describes his exchanges with Deborah Lipstadt in which she expresses her famous (and evidently genuinely felt) aversion to government censorship.

Tatjiana Hörnle, 28 min. (German), provides an informative history of the stepwise criminalization of “Holocaust denial” in Germany, giving the impression that a “tide” of such speech is rising in her country and that the government goes about plugging holes in the dike it has erected to contain it as each in turn begins to gush undesired speech. This speaker is comparatively detached about her subject, betraying no particular personal dedication to the goal of suppressing the proscribed expression. In fact, on one seemingly minor point, she makes so bold as to reveal a personal inclination (carefully described as such) in favor of liberality. She makes it clear that in Germany, at least on this topic, the courts have acquired the habit of decreeing what is historically true and what is false, and suppresses any personal objection she might harbor to this development. Her account clearly depicts the incremental process by which disapproved historical speculations have been made criminal offenses in the host country for the conference. She describes legal issues in terms readily accessible to interested laypersons, in particular the knotty issues of jurisdiction encountered in, among other cases, that of the late John Demjanjuk.

Juliana Wetzel, 28 min. (German): This legal scholar, who says she is not in fact a lawyer, undertakes to refute an earlier speaker’s remark that “hundreds” of Holocaust-denial trials have occurred in Germany, asserting that such trials in fact barely exceed a dozen. Of course, her count necessarily omits those hundreds of cases, many contemplating a sentence of death, involving “war criminals” in which the defense, if only permitted to, would undoubtedly have adduced devastating evidence to the effect that the alleged crimes had in fact never even been committed. Wetzel mounts the conference’s most pointed attacks on “soft denial,” that very widespread form of revisionism that is based on solid scholarship backed up by traceable, often incontrovertible evidence such as that practiced by Ernst Nolte, on whose work she dwells at some length. She further attacks the “relativization” exemplified by the work of David Irving, James Bacque, and many others, which compare the toll of the Holocaust with that of the vast and numerous war crimes committed by the Allies in their campaign against Germany. This speaker, who emphatically claims a “trademark” on the word “holocaust” on the part of those advertising German wartime atrocities against Jews, coins a term that should arouse keen interest in readers of this newsletter: “secondary anti-Semitism.” By this term, she refers to the anti-Jewish feelings that understandably arise in persons discovering the falsity of much of the Holocaust publicity in which the western world is soaked every day, day after day.

Sergey Lagodinsky, 35 min. (German), gives a legalistic, but interesting, account of the ongoing government campaign in Germany against expression of any sort of modulation in evaluation of the characters or accomplishments of individual National Socialists. He explains that National Socialist sympathies on the part of a speaker might make speech on his part criminal, that might not be criminal on the part of a person not suspected of harboring National Socialist sympathies—the closest approach to true “thought crime” described in this conference. While his accent is accessible to Anglophones, his pronunciation of “honor” sounds like “orner,” which provided considerable puzzlement until I managed to decode it. He describes the development of annual demonstrations centering on the grave of Rudolf Hess in Wunsiedel and a progression of legal measures against them, never once mentioning the ultimate resolution of the matter by physical disinterment of Hess’s remains and their cremation and dispersal at sea, à la Osama bin Laden’s.

Stephen Rothman, 35 min. (Australian): This speaker is but one in a succession of speakers from countries other than the US who speak of the need to balance the right to free speech against a right not to be offended or disturbed. The latter “right,” fortunately, is nowhere to be found in the Bill of Rights, but initiatives for “hate speech” laws are in fact based on assertions of such a right, often in favor of tiny minorities whose offense is evidenced by nothing more than their own declaration that they are offended, and by still less on the part of members of the putatively offended minority who have failed for one reason or another to complain. Rothman describes how such arguments, now ensconced firmly in Australian legislation and judicial precedent, have severely eroded Australians’ ability and willingness to speak their minds. His talk includes a good deal of interesting Australian history that has nothing in particular to do with “Holocaust denial.” The latest issue of the IAJLJ’s Justice magazine (http://tinyurl.com/85san7d) carries an article by Rothman that closely parallels this speech, for those who prefer reading to listening. The magazine contains some other coverage of the conference, including articles by other speakers, noted below.

Marc Levy, 24 min. (French): English comes with difficulty to this Frenchman’s tongue, though he makes his effort with good humor, if not charm. He quotes Himmler’s supposed 1943 speech at Posen by way of proving that the National Socialists intended their supposed genocidal project to remain forever undocumented. He details the lamentable situation in France, in which ISPs are subject to prosecution if they fail to remove material identified to them (Levy does not specify by whom) as violating the noxious Gayssot Law against “Holocaust denial.” This alter Kämpfer mentions that he participated in the prosecutions of the 1970s against his countryman Robert Faurisson. In wearing a yarmulke, this speaker projected his Jewishness more than any other speaker, though his intentions may have been as much devotional as proclamatory. For all his disquisitions on the vigor of the French suppression campaign, he admitted that law is ultimately no more than a deterrent, and no sort of cure for the social tendencies giving rise to this conference.

David Matas, 17 min. (Canadian): This short speech is devoted extensively to the case of erstwhile Canadian Ernst Zündel, and otherwise to the straitened circumstances of free expression in Canada. His long and legalistic article in the current issue of Justice probably encompasses his talk.

The speeches of Marcos Grabivker (Argentine), Rodrigo Luchinsky (Argentine), and Matthias Küntzel (German) are unfortunately badly garbled and outright missing in the audio, and so are not recommended for those having a less than compelling interest in the material. Fortunately, Grabivker has a long article in the current issue of Justice that likely encompasses the material in the two Argentines’ talks. Küntzel’s talk focuses on “Holocaust denial” by Muslims and Muslim institutions.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that the discussion of the genocide, promoted by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), was not connected to the current strained relations between Israel and Turkey, the source writes.

Rivlin also told Globes: “As Jews, and as human beings, we cannot ignore this issue and we must not turn away from our commitment to morality… As [a country] struggling in the international arena with Holocaust denial, we cannot deny the tragedy of another people.”

In December 2011, the Knesset Education Committee discussed the Armenian genocide for the first time. Gal-On, who also initiated that discussion, said then: “For years, Israel always took into account its relations with Turkey. That is the central issue in terms of recognition of the murder of the Armenian people, which has yet to take place in Israel’s Knesset,” Haaretz.com wrote.

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Author(s) Jett Rucker
Title Berlin Diary: A Global Lawfare Conspiracy
Sources Smith's Report, no. 192, July 2012, pp. 1f., 9-11
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Dates published: 2012-07-13, first posted on CODOH: July 13, 2012, 7 p.m., last revision: n/a
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