Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg decided how he intended to police “Fake News” on Facebook. It would be, “intent”, he said, but otherwise, Freedom of Speech would continue to attempt to reign on Facebook. While intent is doubtless a very important part of a court case, it requires time and energy to attempt to determine intent. Mr Zuckerberg, however, decided that the Common Law had got it wrong for more than 1,500 years, as he could gauge intent and decide from the beginning what intent was. So could, it seems, the “Anti Fake News Department” (or should that be the ‘Ministry of Truth’?) of Facebook staff.
The immediate concern was that, while Judges in the west typically undergo a considerable amount of training to prepare themselves, Facebook staff are not held to quite so high standards. Hence the numerous complaints that “fringe beliefs” are being discriminated against, as the rolling accusations from American conservative “action groups”, provocateurs, Pro-Life institutes and those who question gender ideology. These groups, by and large, state points of view – opinions and normative statements that often can’t really be proved either way.
But Facebook went beyond that. Originally supposed to suppress blatant, empirical untruths, they have overreached in certain areas (nowhere near to the extent of Google) of “content moderation”. That could be argued as the sum of all the content moderator’s prejudices. But he decided that those who denied the holocaust were unintentionally getting it wrong. In other words, they were making an understandable mistake that could be held by logical people.
The first problem here is that the vast majority of holocaust deniers are not “unintentionally” getting things wrong. There has been a massive spike in anti-Semitism, especially in the West over the past few years. Indeed, the leader of the opposition could easily be accused of being an anti-semite. But Mr Zuckerberg doesn’t see this as a problem. On the contrary, those who peddle such lies are merely mistaken individuals, victims themselves.
The fact is that the Holocaust happened. I’d much rather if the stories by the Holocaust deniers were partly true, and there were no extermination camps. But there were – one can visit Auschwitz, one can visit Yad Vashem and numerous other holocaust museums. I believe the Imperial War Museum has a continually running exhibition on the Holocaust. Having worked there, amongst the collection, I can corroborate it. As can court cases such as the famed Irving v Penguin Books Ltd.
There are pictures that cannot be unseen, and I cannot even begin to think what the smell and sounds must have been like.
The Germans are a very methodical people, who do things according to the book. Their accountancy is second to none, even today. It was because of this the RAF Police was able to find which of the escapees from Stalag Luft III were murdered by the Nazis, where they were buried or cremated, and even by whom. The story was, of course, made into a famous film starring Steve McQueen (The Great Escape).
So what, one may ask: If it is so easily proven, what damage does it cause if a couple of people hold nonsensical positions? The truth will win as the saying goes.
The danger is that it leads to more anti-Semitism. The “logical” continuation such people peddle then accuses the Jews of faking their own genocide so that they could get the Middle East. The Europeans were shamed into allowing the Jews to set up their own country, Israel.
This is, of course, absolute poppycock. HM’s government in 1917 decided that it was intending to create a Jewish Homeland in the area known since the Great Jewish Revolt of Bar Kochba around 130 AD as Palestine. The question could be why did the Romans rename Palestine, to whit the answer was that, after three great revolts, they ethnically cleansed the area of all Jews, and renamed the area of Israel after Israel’s most infamous enemies – the Philistines.
Further, the League of Nations agreed in San Remo in 1920 that the area now known as Israel and Jordan were to be a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic joint Palestinian-Jewish state. As required by the UN’s own founding charters, all decisions taken by the League remained in force, although by that time Churchill had decided to split up Palestine into two areas – Trans Jordan for the Arabs/Palestinians and Palestine for the Jews.
All of this was decided before the war. Before Hitler had even come to power, or even published Mein Kampf.
So again, one could ask, why is it so dangerous?
It is dangerous because it gives a ground for virulent anti-Semitism, under the disguise of anti-Zionism. Concern or opposition to the Israeli government is not Anti-Zionism: that is politics and opinions. I may disagree with the Jewish Home Bill recently passed and added to the Israeli de facto Constitution, but I still hold the right of Israel to exist as a ‘liberal’ & tolerant nation-state in its historical homeland and behind defensible, and internationtionally legal, borders.
Anti-Zionism does not mean support for BDS (which it must be stated harms Arabs more than Jews), but rather a denial that the Jews have a right to self-determination. Few are they who are concerned with the Arabs in Gaza, or the West Bank, who don’t view Israel as an oppressor and continue to accuse the Jews. Better still, the term “Zionist” has become a stand-in for ‘Jew’ enabling the free attacking of Jews indiscriminately.
But the historical revisionism that comes with holocaust denial denies the right of Israel to exist and declares it an international fraud; a charade, and accuses them of Nazi practices to the Arabs living in Israel. In other words, it somehow “delegitimises” Israel and presents the Jewish people as schemers and evildoers – all the old anti-semitic vitriol that was so common in the 1930s.
It is dangerous because we have slid down a further rung into stronger anti-semitism. We now do not – as previously – tell holocaust deniers to actually examine all of the facts, but allow their ideas to spread. And as they spread, they shift the Overton Window. Ten years ago, it would be suicide for a major party to allow an anti-semite into a leadership position, and effectively nobody would have voted for them. But now, people are making excuses for Corbyn’s anti-semitism. It isn’t a position really worth arguing or fighting over, they say. It is unacceptable to be friends with a group who calls for genocide. And it is unacceptable to vote for a party whose leader turns blind eyes to anti-semitism, historical revisionism (such as saying that Hitler was a Zionist and that he was “sane” until 1941: Tell that to the Czechs, Poles, Belgians, Dutch, and French) and openly supports terror organisations.
This is why it is so dangerous to deny the holocaust – because it means not only are we refusing to learn the lessons of history – we are denying that right and responsibility to others. Accusing the Jews of being greedy capitalists, interested only in making their own money and taking land off working class (insert word here) and operating as an unpatriotic fifth column inside their nation is to do precisely the same as in the 1930s.
Why must it remain unacceptable? Because otherwise, we risk another Holocaust.
One to Christians (Karen) and Muslims (Rohingya) in Burma, at the hands of the same Burmese Army who collaborated so fouly with the Imperial Japanese Army in WWII.
One to Yazidis, Christians, the Druze and other small religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, at the hands of both ISIS and Iranian, Hamas and Hezbollah (yes, the member for Islington’s friends) backed Shi’ite militia and hit teams.
One in Sudan and South Sudan to holders of traditional ethnic religions and Christians.
We must remember the Holocaust for the sheer horror that it was, because otherwise we’d be doomed to repeat it, as so many peoples and nations around the world since 1945 have been.
It isn’t just Zuckerberg & Corbyn. It’s much, much deeper than that. They’re just turning blind eyes, although it can be argued that Zuckerberg is trying to have as much free speech as possible. It’s an inherent, deep-seated discrimination against “the Jew”, be it in his own land (Israel) or ‘our’ land. And the first thing that needs to be done is that it must be admitted.
It must be admitted and dealt with that the cartoons accusing Jews of blood libel (yes, Corbyn’s spent meetings with people who propagate such) and causing internal destabilisation and domestic chaos for the sake of money is discriminatory, disgusting and cannot be tolerated. Most agree with that, but flip it into the “modern” age of “internationalism”:
It must be admitted and dealt with that the cartoons accusing Zionists of shooting innocent children and causing international destabilisation and world-wide chaos for the sake of land is discriminatory, disgusting and cannot be tolerated.
It needs to be admitted that accusing Britain’s ambassador to Israel of “going native” or “not having roots in the UK”, just because he is Jewish is absolutely unacceptable.
And it needs to be done quickly because the swing is developing, as more are dropping the “Zionist” facade. Over 20% of Brits feel that support for Israel makes British Jewry less British.
And, to be perfectly frank, it needs to be YOU taking a stand. There are already large numbers of Jews who are fleeing Europe to Israel due to the two anti-semitic hammers of local anti-semitism and religious anti-semitism primarily from Muslim immigrants. Turning a blind eye to Muslim anti-semitism does not help anybody, least of all those in Gaza or the West Bank.
There is a reason why, after the shooting in France that killed four at a kosher supermarket, weeks before the Bataclan Massacre, the victims were buried in Israel. Its because the French authorities are seen as helpless or unwilling to help in the face of anti-semitic violence: the same as in the Labour Party. None of this is new – STV had a good article on it in 2015, which I highly recommend reading.
And, in a step that is both interesting and concerning, all this hate, vitriol, and blatant twisting of the truth seem to have come home to roost in the political position where it first started: the Socialists.
But where is it all going to end? And who is going to stop it? The 332nd (Red Army) Rifle Division?