In the Name of Free Speech, It’s Time to Repeal the Ban on Holocaust Denial

Even as the massacre at Charlie Hebdo led to enthusiastic expressions of European support for free speech, there has been little discussion of Europe’s draconian (by American standards) limitations on “hate speech” in general and Holocaust denial in particular. And yet, according to Sam Schulman, not only has the effort to prevent “journalists, essayists, and fiction writers from questioning Islam and immigration policy” done nothing to deter or deflect jihadist fury, but proscribing Holocaust denial has failed to curb anti-Semitism, including the murderous kind.

On the latter front, writes Schulman, the evidence is clear. “Twenty years of policing speech about the Holocaust have produced a perverse result”:

In the two countries [the U.S. and UK] in which Holocaust denial is freely available to anyone, the level of Holocaust denial and what might be termed Holocaust skepticism has changed very little. But despite the vigilance and police powers of the regulated-speech countries [France and Germany], the percentage of Holocaust deniers plus skeptics increased substantially, from 5 percent to 26 percent in France and from 8 percent to 11 percent in Germany.

From his inspection of the data, Schulman concludes that “limiting free speech, for noble or ignoble reasons, is an experiment that has been tried and failed.”

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Anti-Semitism, Charlie Hebdo, Freedom of Speech, History and Ideas, Holocaust denial, Radical Islam

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas