What Mark Zuckerberg Gets Dangerously Wrong about Holocaust Denial

July 20 2018

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, recently defended his company’s policy of not removing posts denying the Holocaust, stating, “I don’t think that [the authors are] intentionally getting it wrong; . . . as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. . . . I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if he gets things wrong.’” Regardless of what Facebook’s policies should be, Deborah Lipstadt points to a dangerous flaw in Zuckerberg’s reasoning:

Deniers are a . . . type of neo-Nazi. . . . Wolves in sheep’s clothing, they don’t bother with the physical trappings of Nazism—salutes, songs, and banners—but proclaim themselves “revisionists”—serious scholars who simply wished to correct “mistakes” in the historical record. This is extremism posing as rational discourse. And his statements suggest that Zuckerberg has been duped by them into thinking that they’re any different than someone who proudly wears a swastika. . . .

In 2000, when I was on trial in London for libel, having been sued by David Irving—then one of the world’s leading Holocaust deniers—for having called him a denier in one of my books, my defense team tracked all of his “proofs” back to their sources and found that imbedded in each of his historical claims was a falsification, invention, distortion, change of date, or some other form of untruth. Once these lies were exposed, his argument [that he wrote history in good faith] collapsed. . . .

Holocaust denial is not about history. A form of anti-Semitism, it’s about attacking, discrediting, and demonizing Jews. The deniers’ claims—that the Jews planted evidence, got German prisoners of war to admit falsely to crimes, and forced postwar Germany to shoulder a tremendous financial and moral burden—are predicated on the notion of the mythical power of the Jews, which was extensive enough to realize this vast conspiracy. These assertions rely on classic anti-Semitic tropes, some of which are over 2,000 years old.

Deniers, who today clearly feel more emboldened than ever before, are not the equivalents of flat-earth theorists, nor are they just plain loonies. . . . Their agenda is to reinforce and spread the very hatred that produced the Holocaust.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Facebook, History & Ideas, Holocaust denial

Hizballah Is in Venezuela to Stay

Feb. 21 2019

In a recent interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the presence of Hizballah cells in Venezuela as further evidence of the growing unrest in that country. The Iran-backed group has operated in Venezuela for years, engaging in narcotics trafficking and money laundering to fund its activities in the Middle East, and likely using the country as a base for planning terrorist attacks. If Juan Guaido, now Venezuela’s internationally recognized leader, is able to gain control of the government, he will probably seek to alter this situation. But, writes Colin Clarke, his options may be limited.

A government led by Guaido would almost certainly be more active in opposing Hizballah’s presence on Venezuelan soil, not just nominally but in more aggressively seeking to curtail the group’s criminal network and, by extension, the influence of Iran. As part of a quid pro quo for its support, Washington would likely seek to lean on Guaido to crack down on Iran-linked activities throughout the region.

But there is a major difference between will and capability. . . . Hizballah is backed by a regime in Tehran that provides it with upward of $700 million annually, according to some estimates. Venezuela serves as Iran’s entry point into Latin America, a foothold the Iranians are unlikely to cede without putting up a fight. Moreover, Russia retains a vested interest in propping up [the incumbent] Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and keeping him in power, given the longstanding relationship between the two countries. . . . Further, after cooperating closely in Syria, Hizballah is now a known quantity to the Kremlin and an organization that President Vladimir Putin could view as an asset that, at the very least, will not interfere with Russia’s designs to extend its influence in the Western hemisphere.

If the Maduro regime is ultimately ousted from power, that will likely have a negative impact on Hizballah in Venezuela. . . . Yet, on balance, Hizballah has deep roots in Venezuela, and completely expelling the group—no matter how high a priority for the Trump administration—remains unlikely. The best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hizballah’s influence—if the new government is willing to accept a U.S. presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society. But that scenario, of course, is dependent on the United States offering such assistance in the first place.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Mike Pompeo, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela