Holocaust expert Lipstadt on Ahmadinejad threat

By Jennifer Lipman, December 16, 2011

One of the most influential academics on the Holocaust today has suggested that supporters of Israel are too preoccupied with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Deborah Lipstadt, who famously won a libel battle with Holocaust denier David Irving, said people made too much of a fuss about his incendiary statements, which include Holocaust denial and attacks on Israel’s existence.

"He’s a dangerous man, he's a hater of Jews, if he had his hands on a nuclear weapon it would not be a good thing," Ms Lipstadt told Ha'aretz. "[But] one day the Ayatollahs are going to get rid of him, and then what – that solves our problem?

"From many points of view, including his Holocaust denial, Ahmadinejad is the gift that keeps on giving.

She also cautioned against the polarised view of the Israeli Palestinian conflict presented by US politicians and presidential hopefuls. "There’s no nuance, there’s no middle ground, it’s taking any shade of grey and stomping on it," she said.

"It’s dangerous, for your support of Israel to become a litmus test."

Ms Lipstadt criticised Howard Gutman, the US ambassador to Belgium for his remarks suggesting that antisemitism was because of the situation in Israel.

However she added: "I think that some of these Muslims would hate Jews nonetheless, but the situation is definitely exacerbated by the conflict."

Speaking about antisemitism in Europe, she said the situation that while it now tended to come from the left of the political spectrum rather than the right, "a lot of it is the same".

"The situation in Israel gives the antisemites an opening, and then there are those people who aren’t necessarily antisemites but are willing to demonise Israel."

She said that overall the situation in Europe was "not good" and added: "I wouldn’t want to send my kids to Jewish school in Belgium."

Last updated: 1:05pm, December 16 2011