“Denial”: Hollywood Defends the Truth against Postmodernism

When Deborah Lipstadt authored her first book on the subject of Holocaust denial, the “revisionist” historian David Irving took her to court. Because of the idiosyncrasies of Britain’s libel laws, Lipstadt and her lawyers had to prove that the Holocaust actually happened. The trial is the subject of the recent film Denial. In his review, Gavriel Rosenfeld writes:

Denial . . . portrays Irving as a self-described “outsider” who seeks to provoke an establishment whose acceptance he secretly craves. . . .

Denial thus joins the growing chorus of opposition to the epistemological skepticism that came with postmodernism. As the prominent theorist Bruno Latour recently argued, the postmodern notion that “facts are made up, that there is no such thing as natural, unmediated, unbiased access to truth” has been exploited by “dangerous extremists.” . . . As conspiracy theorists and others abuse the idea that facts are socially constructed, the time has arrived, Latour concluded, to get “closer to facts.”

This injunction is not, of course, a specifically Jewish one, but Denial shows the dangers of spurious skepticism by showing the continuing threat posed by the epitome of unreason: anti-Semitism. . . .

Beyond defending reason and truth, Denial suggests that an effective response to hatred may be found in the unapologetic embrace of one’s own identity. Lipstadt is seen in the film quietly chanting the traditional funeral prayer El maleh raḥamim together with [the historian Robert Jan] van Pelt on their visit to Auschwitz. In an even more revealing scene, she is horrified by the passive attitude of some British Jews toward anti-Semitism. When some guests at a dinner party organized to help support her defense suggest that she just settle with Irving, she rejects the request out of hand, calling it “appeasement.”

Although the world faces new dangers, Denial shows how an important victory over an age-old prejudice can inspire us to trust our convictions.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, Film, Holocaust denial, Postmodernism

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7