29th May 1998
SPENT this morning being attacked. One by one, men and women stood up to denounce me, and I had to sit politely and listen.
My lawyer kept rapping his foot against my ankle to remind me: “Uri, let them lose their tempers. Hang on to yours.” I did and I hope the judges were impressed. I am not able to explain exactly what the hearing was about, since a final decision has yet to be reached. When the full facts are out, Jewish Telegraph readers will be first to know.
Outside the hearing, in the blazing London heat, I tried to cool off. What was it about me these people hated so? Could it be personal? Surely it wasn’t because I’m a Jew? Not even that I’m a high-profile Jew. It must simply be that I tell the truth and these truths are unpalatable to some people. Or do they think that I’m the liar?
Human beings can do some things that human scientific discoveries cannot yet explain. What is so hateful about that?
Some years ago I met Simon Wiesenthal, a man who told much greater truths than I ever dared. He was vilified massively, of course.
Wiesenthal made people fear, not only for their blinkered notions but for their carefully onstructed cover-ups and lies. The truth he proclaimed ought not to be controversial. Anyone with the least knowledge of this century has heard of the Nazi attempts at genocide – wiping out Jews, gypsies, Communists, homosexuals, ethnic minorities and intellectuals.
What else could have happened to entire townships of Jews in Germany, Poland and central Europe? How else could the Romany race have been almost obliterated in under a decade? It is not as if the survivors have been silent. Or as if their accounts did not tally in the smallest details. It is not as if the Allies failed to find a sickening mass of evidence, some of it recorded on film. It is not as if Hitler’s intention to commit genocide had been a secret for 20 years. Or as if, with armies of stormtroopers and flocks of bombers, he did not inflict terror and mass murder on innocent communities across an entire continent.
But people called Simon Wiesenthal a liar. They accused him of inventing the Holocaust, to promote a Jewish conspiracy or discredit right-wing politics. These Holocaust sceptics were, of course, a minority but there were by no means only a few of them. Even today, when almost all of the killers have gone to their own graves, a virulent campaign to deny the Holocaust continues.
I am lost in admiration of the way that, decade after decade, Wiesenthal fought these people. It must have been like fighting water. Nothing solid to hit. No way to stop new, factless lies from pouring into the holes which Wiesenthal endlessly made in their specious arguments. How can you contradict someone who denies the frankest facts and stamps on words until all the meaning has gone out of them? How can you nail a falsehood that slips around your back When you step forward?
My battles with the sceptics have none of the heroism that distinguished Simon Wiesenthal. But as I prepare for another wrestling match with liquified lies. I am proud to have his image before me.
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