Note to the reader: The following was submitted to and published by the Western Jewish Bulletin, September 15, 1995
Three articles ("Har El stands strong", "CJC seeks funds for court battles" and "Hate fighter faces cash crunch") in the past two issues of the JB remind us of our need to be constantly alert to the seemingly endless stream of lies, distortions and vitriol from those who abuse the privilege of living in a democratic society.
But when our "real-life" and virtual highways are increasingly strewn with the litter of hatred -visible to all passers-by - and previous legal battles have proven to be pyrrhic victories, at best, I do question both the wisdom and the long-term effectiveness of the costly process of seeking redress through the court system.
Those who choose to deny the Shoah care little (if anything) for truth or justice. One wonders in the aftermath of the costly Keegstra and Zundel trials and subsequent appeals, for example, how many of those who read the media reports have a greater knowledge of the facts.
While Keegstra may not be still teaching, Zundel is still preaching with impunity. We are expending our increasingly limited resources on legal suits against the few who are without doubt LCD's in more ways than one:
In their ranks one finds the lowest common denominator is bigotry and thinly veiled hatred. Their anti-Semitic agenda surfaces as clearly as a liquid crystal display, and they are lying, conscienceless demagogues
Sadly, I suspect that we could launch a thousand suits and the end result would be the same. Their vitriol is like a cancer that has metastasized - surgical removal of the affected cells stimulates the growth of newly affected cells.
But in so doing, would we lose the opportunity to make knowledge available to many thousands more?
I was one of the 893 recipients of Greg Raven's unsolicited e-mail to HOLOCAUS List - which, incidentally is a subscriber mailing list, not one of the "free for all" newsgroups such as alt.revisionism, the primary "posting-ground" of the Shoah deniers.
Raven somehow managed to subscribe to the list and, I would surmise, knowing full well that his missive would not have been forwarded by the List moderator to the membership, he e-mailed directly to each subscriber.
The content, as one might expect, was replete with lies, distortions, misrepresentations and innuendo, all clearly designed to mislead the uninformed, and - in the case of this mailing - to provoke the recipients.
No doubt he was hoping that there would be an onslaught of suits demanding that he be banned from the Internet - so that he and his cohorts could bemoan the infringement on his freedom of speech. And not incidentally gain some more publicity.
Such behaviour reminds me of the small child who taunts another, crying "Hit me, hit me" - and who when hit, starts crying "He hit me."
I would in no way wish to diminish the painful impact that his words must surely have had on those who are survivors or who lost family members during the Holocaust. However, my own response to this hatefulness was to focus not on his message (I refuse to give him the satisfaction) but on his medium.
As was noted by Ken McVay, Raven's behaviour was a blatant abuse of e-mail privileges. And it was this that I, and other recipients, brought to the attention of his access provider - with a request that the provider take the appropriate steps to ensure that the behaviour is not repeated. Sadly, but not surprisingly, his provider has yet to acknowledge these requests - let alone take any action.
To my mind, the fact that Raven would resort to such a tactic suggests that he, not unlike Zundel, is desperate for attention! This, I believe, is a good sign! But there is a downside. Raven's material is easily accessible on his website - and the number of similar websites is increasing.
Coated with the "patina of professionalism" that a web page affords, to the casual netsurfer such material easily takes on a level of undeserved credence.
Our best defence against this highly offensive "electronic highway litter of hatred" is not to pursue legal redress against the perpetrators, but to focus our resources on ensuring that the facts are as readily accessible as the myths the deniers would have their audience believe.
We cannot afford to not support the Nizkor Project - it's as simple as that.
Revised October 19, 1997
Copyright © 1995 Hilary Ostrov
September 10, 1998