Holocaust denial, anti-Islamic cartoons – all reactionary propaganda

David Irving’s holocaust denial highlights one side of bourgeois reactionary propaganda; the recent anti-Islamic cartoons highlight another. It is all used to divide the workers and poor of the world. This is particularly clear in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

In Vienna British far right historian David Irving, 67 years old, known for his 1977 "Hitler war" has been convicted on charges of Holocaust denial, a crime under Austrian law, after he pleaded guilty to the charges. In his defence he claimed that he had already changed his mind back in 1992 after he uncovered a radio transmission containing a message to Adolf Eichmann about the extermination of a million Jews at the Treblinka death camp.

This claim, however, is a lie. As Professor Dina Porat, head of Tel Aviv University's Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, told Haaretz on Sunday, "It is not possible that Irving changed his mind in 1992 without saying anything about it in the course of the libel trial he initiated in 2000".

He was arrested last November in southern Austria, on a warrant resulting from two lectures he delivered in Austria in November 1989. At the first lecture, delivered before 300 people in the town of Leoben, Irving claimed that Hitler never ordered the extermination of the Jews, that "persons unknown" disguised as Nazi soldiers were behind Kristallnacht, and that Anne Frank's diary was a fabrication. In his second speech, delivered in the back room of a Viennese pub, Irving claimed that, "Auschwitz was a legend."

He is not the only Nazi propagandist who faces criminal charges. There is also the case of Ernst Zundel in Canada. His experience will help to shed some light on the fate of Irving.

Zundel emigrated to Canada in 1958, at the age of 19, to escape the draft in West Germany. A self-described "Christian and pacifist," he settled in Montreal and made a living as a commercial artist. In 1978, however, a Canadian journalist discovered that Zundel was Canada's leading pro-Nazi and Holocaust-denial propagandist.

In his Toronto-based company, Samisdat Publishers, Ltd., he published his own hate propaganda such as The Hitler We Loved and Why and reprinted Holocaust-denial classics like Arthur Butz’ A Straight Look at the Third Reich and The Six Million Swindle, by Austin App, and Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald: The Greatest Fraud in History, by Richard Harwood.

In 1977 he wrote for the Nazi trash White Power Report an article entitled, Our New Emblem: The Best of Two Worlds (referring to a design that merged a swastika and the American flag) where he wrote:

"Wherever we look, we White people find ourselves besieged by peoples of other races who compete aggressively against us for jobs, food, housing, education and above all - power! The Jews are particularly adept at seizing or insinuating themselves into strategic positions in our society where they wield power far beyond the extent of their numbers..."

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the catalogue of Samisdat Publications grew from a few texts about Holocaust denial to a sea of Nazi open propaganda. It included the reproduction of 50 Second World War posters, an audiotape section of Historic Speeches, Marches and Battle Songs, featuring Music of the Third Reich ("inspiring and nourishing food for the Aryan soul"), Wehrmacht Victory Fanfare, Adolf Hitler Speaks, and The Reichstag Declaration of War.

He came to the attention of Canadian officials, who launched several criminal investigations against him. In 1985 Zundel was charged under Section 177 of the Criminal Code of Canada for… "knowingly publishing false news" and not under Section 281 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which prohibits the promotion of hatred against any "identifiable group".

Zundel was convicted on February 26, 1985, of publishing false news about the Holocaust. It gave him the opportunity to appear as a hero of "Freedom of Speech". However, Zundel did not serve his sentence. In January 1987, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the 1985 conviction, citing procedural errors during the trial. In June 1987, a new trial was granted which gave him another platform to spread his Nazi propaganda.

The appeal court upheld the conviction and Zundel arrived at Toronto's Don Jail on February 5, 1990, wearing a striped "concentration camp" costume labelled "Political Prisoner Ernst Zundel." He spent just one week in jail, and was then released on $10,000 bail pending an appeal to Canada's Supreme Court. On August 27, 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada declared the law banning the spread of false news unconstitutional. The decision put an end to deportation proceedings launched against Zundel after his 1988 conviction.

In 1994 Zundel applied to the Citizenship and Immigration Department for Canadian citizenship. After many trials in December 2000, the Supreme Court refused to hear any further appeals and in February 2001, Zundel left Canada for the United States. For a while he lived in Tennessee but later returned to Canada still claiming to be a refugee. And this in a country that had closed its gates to Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecution stating that one Jew was too many.

All this poses the need to ask some questions. The first one is: why has it taken 17 years to charge this man with hate propaganda? The second one is: what makes Holocaust denial, a form of Anti-Semitism against the Jews, different from the caricatures portraying Mohammad, the founder of Islam, as a terrorist? Is this not also a form of attacking one group of people because of the religion they adhere to, i.e. all the Moslems? Why is the hate propaganda against the Moslems considered legitimate opinion while the hate propaganda against the Jews is a crime?

It defies rational thinking and can only be explained with the logic of a class society ruled by hypocrites who find it useful to attack the Moslems at a given moment – when it serves their interests – while sacrificing some of their Nazi servants, when this also suits them.

Any one who knows a little history is familiar with the real history of the so-called "democratic" West – and the Vatican – that smuggled the Nazis away to safe hiding places after the Second World War. It cannot be hidden any more. Newly declassified CIA documents provide a glimpse of the extent to which US intelligence officials relied on suspected Nazi war criminals for information about the Soviets after World War II. According to the files, some of the Nazis on the CIA's payroll lived lives of luxury after the war, often living off wealth they had stolen from Jews.

The most famous Nazi on the US intelligence payroll was Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon" who ordered the murder of French Jewish children during the war. The files have also revealed that, contrary to the false rumours spread by the controlled mass media, Gestapo head Heinrich Mueller did not die at the end of World War II, but worked for the CIA.

What is still hidden is the extent to which the Western "democracies" supported the Nazis before, during and after the Second World War. Among the Nazis who escaped using Ratlines were Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, Erich Priebke, Aribert Heim and Ante Pavelic, who were smuggled to Latin America. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg, as a whole Ukrainian Waffen SS were settled in Canada alone.

It was not only the question of spying on the former Soviet Union as they claim now. These Nazis were seen as a reliable force in the eyes of the rulers of the Western capitalist governments against the possibility of any working class uprising. How useful they were we can learn from the Chilean experience where, after 1973, Nazis – who had settled in Chile after the Second World War – offered their skills in torturing trade unionists and other left wing activists under the CIA-backed Pinochet military regime.

Freedom of speech

The ugly caricatures aimed against the Moslems are not very different from the Nazi caricatures against the Jews. The idea is to divide the working class and push one part of the working class against another part, and to blame the immigrants from Moslem countries for all the ills of capitalism.

Just replace Zundel's propaganda against the Jews with the word “Moslems” and you will discover the same speeches being delivered in these days by leaders of right-wing politicians from Europe to Australia and from the US to Israel.

This is how it would read: "Wherever we look, we White people find ourselves besieged by peoples of other races who compete aggressively against us for jobs, food, housing, education and above all – power! The Moslems are particularly adept at seizing or insinuating themselves into strategic positions in our society where they wield power far beyond the extent of their numbers."

In Israel right-wing settlers have sprayed terrible racist slogans on Mosques in Kalkilia and in Maalot Tarshia such as “Mohammad is a pig” and "death to the Arabs". The army of course has promised to catch them, but never does anything, even though they know who the activists of Khana Hi are, that open fascist gang that stands behind the slogans.

But why look too far? The Israeli government has decided to steal the money it owes to the Palestinian Authority for the VAT it collects for goods entering Israel shipped to the Occupied Territories. This is a punishment for the massive electoral support Hamas received in the elections. First they push the Palestinians into the hands of Hamas with their policies and behaviour and than they punish them for reacting against this.

It is as if they were saying: "As we do not like the Palestinian so-called government, it is time to replace the occupied Palestinians with a more obedient occupied nation."

The "Hamas team" – headed by the prime minister's advisor, Dov Weissglas and including the Chief-of-Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, the director of the Shin Bet and senior generals and officials – met the other day with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss how to react to the Hamas election victory. They all agreed to impose an economic boycott on the Palestinian Authority. Weissglas, provided the joke of the day: "It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die," and apparently they all rolled with laughter.

The idea of putting hungry people on a diet is considered a joke by the rulers of Israel. This policy is much worse than Irving’s writings and speeches and the joke is worse than the Danish caricatures.

More than half of all Palestinians are already living in poverty according to the last United Nations report, published in December. Last year, 37 percent had difficulties obtaining food and 54 percent of the residents of the "liberated" Gaza Strip have had to cut back on the amount of food they consume. Child mortality has risen by 15 percent and the average unemployment rate has reached 28 percent. To travel through the West Bank, the Palestinians have to cross no fewer than 397 checkpoints. And, as if all this were not enough, now they are discussing other proposals, including cutting off electricity and water and starving millions of innocent occupied residents.

This is considered a legitimate election spin. Under the protest of the working class in other countries this insane cruelty may be stopped. However, it shows not only to what depths the Israeli ruling class and their friends have sunk, both politically and morally, but it also reveals another simple truth: when the capitalists speak about democracy and freedom of speech, be ready to defend your very life.

As the crisis of the world capitalist system is deepening they are becoming more desperate with every passing day. They want to push Hamas into renewing its terror campaign against the Israeli workers and poor. They want the Arabs and the Jews, workers and poor, to kill one another so they can steal the Palestinian money, while at the same time pushing another half a million or so Israelis under the poverty line.

The workers in Israel have shown many times that they are close to the limit. We have seen several important strikes. We have seen the swing to the left in the Labour Party. These are all indications that the class struggle in Israel is simmering below the surface. In these conditions a few bombs placed in school, buses, market places, wherever there are civilians, would play a useful role for the rulers of Israel. Society is dividing along class lines. The bombs would help to fuse together an unstable “national unity”.

The same applies on the Palestinian side. Among the Palestinians we have also seen class divisions appearing. A heavy bout of oppression carried out by the Israeli army can distract attention away from the class issues and also rebuild some form of “national unity”. Thus workers are pitted against workers and forced to unite with their own exploiters.

The only way out of putting an end to this insanity is to work towards the unity of the workers everywhere to transform this mad rotten system and to build world socialism.

Note: Ernst Zundel was arrested in the United States in 2003 for violating immigration rules. A warrant had been issued for his arrest in Germany for inciting racial hatred and he was sent back to Canada, claiming refugee status (despite the fact that his permanent residency status in Canada had expired due to his three year absence from the country). The Canadian authorities then issued a national security certificate against Zundel, which means that he was considered a threat to national security and/or the human rights of Canadian citizens.

After lengthy legal proceedings Zundel was deported to Germany in March 2005. Upon his arrival in Frankfurt he was arrested. In July 2005 Zundel was charged with fourteen counts of inciting racial hatred. After a lengthy delays to the start of his trial (caused by the fact that his lawyer’s license to practice had been revoked because he himself had spent nine months in prison on charges of inciting racial hatred), Zundel’s trial began on February 9, 2006. The indictment against Zundel says that "[Zundel] denied the fate of destruction for the Jews planned by National Socialist powerholders and justified this by saying that the mass destruction in Auschwitz and Treblinka, among others, were an invention of the Jews and served the repression and blackmail of the German people." The verdict of the trial is scheduled to be announced on March 16, 2006.

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