Сharny Israel

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Shofar archives:

The Armenian Reporter International, Vol. 34, no. 13
(30 Dec. 2000), p. 14

“Ghosts of David Irving Trial Haunt Publishers: Macmillan UK Charged by
Holocaust Scholar with Refusing to Print Article on Genocide Deniers:
Macmillan cited Fear of Litigation”

Prominent genocide and Holocaust scholar Israel Charny has charged
Macmillan Publishers in the UK with canceling publication of an article
on denials and deniers of the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide and other
genocides because of fears of being sued, especially by David Irving.

Only months following the landmark decision by a British court in which
Mr. Justice Gray stated that “Irving is an active Holocaust denier; he
is anti-Semitic and racist and he associates with Right-wing extremists
who promote neo-Nazism,” Macmillan UK wrote Professor Israel Charny,
executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in
Jerusalem, that they were canceling publication of his article because
it was “defamatory,” especially of David Irving.

Macmillan expressed concern that should Irving choose to make a claim,
one would have to go through a process similar to the one involved in
the Irving trial, and that everyone is aware of the fact that Irving is
an avid litigant. Macmillan’s director of publishing, Josie Dixon,
added, “I am not at liberty to subject the company to the very
significant financial risk which would be represented by publishing a
potentially defamatory text against legal advice. That can be a
seriously costly exercise, as the Irving trial showed – a cost that
Palgrave (Macmillan Publishers Ltd.), as a commercial organization, is
unable to finance. While we are pleased to support the enterprise of
holocaust studies, we are a commercial publisher, not a campaigning
organization, and cannot take speculative legal risks of this kind.”

Charny, who is also the editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide, which
was recently published in the UK and US where it had gone into a second
printing in less than a year, has protested Macmillan’s action

In response to the publisher’s proposal that he rewrite the article so
that it would not be defamatory, Charny replied, “There is no possible
revision in which I will not be identifying as virulent deniers of the
Holocaust or other genocides people such as David Irving, about whose
possible suing of Macmillan you are especially concerned, as
anti-Semitic and inciting to violence against Jews; Turkish ambassadors
who engage in repeated political, economic and even military strong
arming in the cause of denials of the Armenian Genocide; and well-known
academics like Professor Ernst Nolte, who asks us to keep an open mind
about the ‘findings’ of ‘engineer’ Freud Leuchter who ‘proves’ that
there could not have been gas chambers in the Holocaust. That is what my
paper is about – descriptions and analyses of the denials and deniers of
the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide and other genocides.”

The essay on denial which Macmillan has canceled was scheduled to appear
in a prestigious set of books containing articles that were presented at
a conference in Oxford in July of this year, “Remembering for the Future
2000: The Holocaust in an Age of Genocide.” Charny’s chapter, “The
Psychological Satisfaction of Denials of the Holocaust or Other
Genocides by Non-Extremists or Bigots, and Even by Known Scholars” was
among the small number selected for highlighting in the List of Sample
Articles Macmillan has advertised, and Charny’s name was selected for
the small List of Key Contributors chosen by Macmillan a few months ago
for their worldwide publicity about the forthcoming books.

In November, Macmillan advised Professor Charny, “We could not publish
the text of your essay as it stands without exposing ourselves to
serious risk of legal action on grounds of defamation.” In a strongly
worded protest and appeal to the publisher, Charny replied to Macmillan,
“My article is in no way defamatory, and all of the statements made in
my article stand up to the two tests in British law which distinguish
between defamation and non defamation, namely truth and fair comment on
a matter of public interest.”

He added, “Note please that Irving was judged fully as the fascist and
anti-Semite that he is – these words are in the trial record – in a
British court this very year, and it is far-fetched to believe that he
can sue again, especially when I am saying nothing that differs in
essence from the court’s judgment. You have nothing to fear but your own
capitulation to the tyranny of internal company policies and procedures
that favor cowardice, insincerity, censorship, and dishonor.”

Jerusalem attorney Michael Oseasohn conveyed to Charny and the Institute
on the Holocaust and Genocide that, “One cannot reasonably refer to
genocide, its perpetrators and/or its deniers in glowing terms. Any
discussion, written or oral, about Adolf Eichmann, Heinrich Himmler, or
any denier such as David Irving, Ernst Nolte, or Bernard Lewis, or
accomplices to denial such as Noam Chomsky, necessarily involves
elements which would tend to insult them or lower their reputation.”

In 1982 Charny organized the First International Conference on the
Holocaust and Genocide in Tel Aviv. He became well known for standing up
to intense pressures from his own Israeli government and the Turkish
government to remove papers on the Armenian Genocide from the program,
and when the conference refused to do so, the Israeli government sought
to close down the entire conference. Under Charny’s direction, the
conference took place. It was reported widely and praised editorially in
the Israeli and world press, and has been hailed in the scholarly
literature, such as by the late Terrence Des Pres in the Yale Review, as
a landmark event of standing up for academic freedom.

Article copyright The Armenian Reporter International.

Last-Modified: 2001/06/25