I know Yom Hashoah was last week, but we’re still within the time frame that I heard R. Benny Lau call “עשרת ימי מדינה”– “the ten days of state”, on the awesome Tanach-themed radio show he hosts with Gal Gabbai on Tuesday nights (you should check it out). This means we’re still “within range”, so I’d like to make a brief case for the proposition that Holocaust denial will enjoy growth in legitimacy and influence in European society for the foreseeable future, unless current processes and trends are curbed or reversed. I will then outline 2 ways in which these trends may be curbed or reversed.
It boils down to the implications of the following 3 premises:
Out of premise 1 and 2 we can derive:
Conclusion 1: Holocaust denial will become–and will be seen to become–a more or less integral part of European Muslim culture.
This conclusion can then serve as a premise in the next step, and combine with premise 3 to yield:
Conclusion 2: Strongly condemning Holocaust denial will be frowned upon in polite European society.
From here the path is clear.
If you think this too far-fetched, consider the amount of factual information about Israeli and Palestinian history it is considered impolite to mention or insist on. Consider how many people in the west have the very strong impression that there was once a thriving Palestinian state, or that “Palestinian civilization” as such has a long and venerable history in this land.
The formality of my presentation serves a purpose beyond the rigor and clarity that it provides. It also allows me to more clearly present the two ways in which this process can be aborted or intercepted.
The first way is to stop premises 1 and 2 from leading to conclusion 1 (obviously in terms of real-world, rather than logical, progression). This can only be accomplished by Muslims themselves.
If relatively more assimilated elements within the European Muslim sector actively combat Holocaust denial within their own communities, it can be marginalized enough so as to not become an integral and visible part of the culture. This is not as simple as it seems, as it would require Muslim leaders to harshly denounce an element of Middle Eastern Muslim culture, thus driving a clear wedge between themselves and traditionalists by openly calling for cultural change in order to better conform to European society. This in turn would amount to advocating the creation of a distinct Europeanized Muslim culture, which they have been reluctant to do in the past.
Newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan’s attendance at a Holocaust memorial was a very positive step in this direction, but the real test will be how he deals with the kind of people behind the Holocaust-denying Twitter barrage he received as a result of his attendance. Will he be willing to admit that Holocaust denial is a serious problem existing especially within the Muslim community, and combat it accordingly?
The second way is by stopping conclusion 1 and premise 3 from leading to conclusion 2.
If Holocaust denial does become a visibly integral part of European Muslim cultures, it would be up to liberal Europe to snap out of its cultural-relativist stupor and denounce it anyway. This would entail taking a stand and saying that even if Holocaust denial is part of somebody’s culture or “narrative”, it’s still horribly wrong; a very difficult thing for the radical Progressives of today to do.
Mind you, denying that Holocaust denial can possibly be widespread in Muslim society because it somehow can’t be so (a more likely reaction) would not accomplish the same goal of stopping the legitimization of Holocaust denial. Ignoring the problem will not solve it. It would simply lead to a slow erosion of the taboo on Holocaust denial, so that it will eventually become impolite to oppose it too strongly, much like it is now impolite to insist that there was indeed a Temple in Jerusalem, even though the Palestinian “narrative” denies it.
This is the direction in which the winds are blowing from where I stand. I would love to have some discussion on this. Am I missing something in my analysis? Please let me know.