Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Author of Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism (2021)

There Is A Need To Ban Holocaust Denial

A recent poll In Britain showed that nearly half of British Jews considered leaving UK due to antisemitism. One of the tools to promote antisemitism is Holocaust denial, blaming the Jews for their misfortune and claiming that the Jews invented the greatest hoax in history, the Holocaust, in order to blackmail the world. A recent poll conducted by the Economist shows that one-fifth of young American citizens believe that the Holocaust is a myth. In response to the statement “The Holocaust is a myth,” 20 percent of participants between the ages of 18 and 29 said that they agreed with it, and an additional 30% said that they did not agree or disagree.

In 2019, the Guardian published a public poll that showed one in 20 British adults did not believe the Holocaust happened, and 8% said that the scale of the genocide has been exaggerated. Almost half of those questioned said they did not know how many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, and one in five grossly underestimated the number, saying that fewer than two million were killed.

Holocaust denial is one of the main tools to promote antisemitism and to re-“educate” people about the history of the Jews during WWII. The aim of Holocaust deniers is not simply to offer a so-called credible interpretation of history. They pose a challenge that needs to be acknowledged. After all, not all people are ‘reasonable people.’ The polls mentioned above show that not all people accept the Holocaust as an indisputable historical fact.

Holocaust denial is propaganda that seeks to deny the reality of the Holocaust, the systematic mass murder of six million Jews deemed ‘inferior’ and ‘dangerous’ by the Nazi regime. Misrepresenting their propaganda as ‘historical revisionism’, Holocaust deniers attempt to disseminate their radical, ill-founded ideas by offering dubious data and arguments against the well-established historical facts of the Holocaust. Holocaust deniers hold that history is always the one put forward by the victor and this is not necessarily the “true” history. Their role is to present the “truth” as it was.

Up until a few years ago, I was of the opinion that legislation to ban Holocaust denial is not necessary in places like the United States and Britain. It is necessary in Israel and Germany, for obvious reasons; it is understandable in countries that were subject to Nazi occupation and horrors, but there was no need for specific legislation in other countries. I have changed my mind.

I changed my mind because of a few reasons. First, denying the Holocaust became an important instrument in promoting hatred against Jews and propagating antisemitism. Second, the level of ignorance among youth is such that we need to deny Holocaust deniers any legitimacy. We need to undermine their ability to spread lies. Third, the way people read news today facilitates the promotion of conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denial. Many people, especially young people, do not read newspapers and do not watch BBC news or any other major news channel. They are fed by social media, and the algorithms tailor the news for them, feeding them with news they like and want to hear. Their world becomes narrow and focused. It is much easier now to spread lies on a mass scale to those who are interested or open to hear lies. Fourth, many schools in the world do not teach the Holocaust. Fifth, non-Jews are less likely to be interested in the subject. The Holocaust is perceived as a “Jewish thing”, to the extent that some believe it was Jewish fault to experience their genocide. Sixth, the number of survivors is decreasing rapidly. Not many survivors remain to tell their stories. Seventh, technology facilitates advanced means to doctor documents and photos, falsify genuine documents and photos, and create alternative historical reality. Eight, antisemitism does not go away. In some places, it is on the rise. Haters connect between Israeli policies in the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the Holocaust, depicting Israelis as Nazis and blaming the Jews for every bad thing that is happening in the world, including spreading the biggest hoax of all time: The Holocaust. And finally, hate speech is directly related to hate crimes. Some people act upon their hatred. Holocaust denial is part of global antisemitism that moves bigots to take weapons into their hands and murder Jews.

About the Author
Raphael Cohen-Almagor received his doctorate from Oxford University. He taught and conducted research at the faculties of law of the Hebrew University, the University of Haifa, UCLA, University of Hull, Nirma University (India) and University College London. He is President of The Association for Israel Studies (AIS). Raphael is now writing Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Critical Study of Peace Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiations between Israel and the PLO (Cambridge University Press, 2025). X: @almagor35
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