The controversial American activist Norman Finkelstein praised Holocaust denier David Irving at a pro-Corbyn meeting of Labour Against the Witch-Hunt, an antisemitism-denial group of former and expelled Labour members.
Mr Finkelstein described Mr Irving as a “very good historian” who “knew a thing, or two or three.”
He reportedly went on to say: “I don’t see the reason to get excited about Holocaust deniers. First of all I don’t know what a Holocaust denier even is. People say if you deny the centrality of the six million Jews being killed and you try to bring in other groups of people you become a Holocaust denier. Other people say if you deny the centrality of the gas chambers you become a Holocaust denier.”
For the benefit of the perplexed Mr Finkelstein, one of the examples of antisemitism provided by the International Definition of Antisemitism captures well the manifestations of Holocaust denial: “Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust)”.
There is a difference between historical exploration of humanity’s darkest hour in a good faith effort to pursue the truth on the one hand, and on the other hand deliberate attempts to minimise Nazi brutality in an ideological effort to rehabilitate Nazism or diminish the reality or legacy of Jewish suffering.
Other speakers at the meeting, a recording of which was made public by the Community Security Trust, included the veteran activist Tariq Ali, who has previously linked Israel to the racist killing of George Floyd, the notorious antisemite Jackie Walker, expelled Labour members Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein, and the disgraced former Labour MP Chris Williamson, who (unusually for an incumbent) humiliatingly lost his deposit in his attempt to win re-election to Parliament as an independent last year.
Where Mr Williamson is present, so, inevitably, is the activist academic David Miller, who quit the Labour Party after he was suspended pending an investigation. In the meeting, Dr Miller confirmed that he resigned from the Party due to what he described as “the ongoing witch hunt”.
He went on to suggest that even under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the Labour Party was led by the “Zionist movement” and he reportedly attacked a leading Jewish charity as being incapable of distinguishing “anti-Zionism from antisemitism” in an effort to pursue the political Left.
Ms Walker apparently described the meeting as the “best” she had attended this year.
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.