Norman Finkelstein praises Holocaust denier David Irving at pro-Corbyn group meeting

Far-left activists Prof David Miller, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Chris Williamson also attended online gathering


The anti-Israel activist Norman Finkelstein has told a meeting of the Labour Against The Witch-Hunt group: “I don’t know what a Holocaust denier is” - while backing what he said were “statistical, scholarly questions” around the question of whether six million Jews died in the Shoah.

The American left-wing icon also heaped praise on the discredited Nazi apologist David Irving at the virtual event, describing him as a “very good historian” who “knew a thing, or two or three.”

Meanwhile David Miller - the Bristol University professor who recently  quit Labour ahead of an expulsion hearing - told the meeting that “raison d'etre” of the “Zionist”  Community Security Trust organisation was to “pursue the left” and the “witch hunt”.

Prof Miller – who earlier this year accused Sir Keir Starmer of being in receipt of “Zionist money” – said the CST needed to be “faced and defeated.”

Wednesday's virtual event saw Mr Finkelstein take star-billing at the launch of a ‘Campaign For Free Speech’ initiative - with other speakers including Jackie Walker, Tariq Ali, Tony Greenstein and Mr Miller.

The US academic used his talk to activists of the LATW group - which was formed to support activists expelled from Labour over antisemitism allegations – to argue his point that no subject should be out of bounds for debate.

Dismissing suggestions that you should be labelled an antisemite if you denied the Holocaust or if you “call Jews killers of Christ”, Mr Finkelstein said: "I don’t know if Jews killed Christ or not – those are things that should be debated and you come up with your own conclusions.”

Mr Finkelstein – whose own parents were the only members of his family to survive the Holocaust – then moved on to praise David Irving, who was labelled an “antisemite and racist” by a High Court judge after famously  losing his libel suit against the historian Deborah Lipstadt.

He said: “David Irving was a very good historian – I don’t care what Richard Evans (the historian who was a key player in the Lipstadt libel trial) says. He produced works that are substantive…If you don’t like it, don’t read it. In the case of Irving, he knew a thing or two – or three.”

Mr Finkelstein continued: “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.”

Addressing what he said was “the question of numbers”, Mr Finkelstein said: “How many were killed? Those are statistical scholarly questions.

“Why can’t we answer a number with a number and present our sources?”

Mr Finkelstein also revealed he had been interested in the actions of “this rapper Mr Wiley".

He said some of his tweets were “awful” while others were “provocative” but he said Wiley had “the right to say what he wants”.

Earlier at the meeting Prof Miller confirmed he had resigned from Labour as a result of what he said was “the ongoing witch hunt.”

He then said that even under Mr Corbyn the Labour Party was led by the “Zionist movement”. Mr Miller then attacked the CST as a group unable to distinguish “anti-Zionism from antisemitism” in order to pursue the left.

CST later said they would be making a complaint about Mr Miller’s remarks to Bristol University.

Marc Wadsworth told the meeting he had been expelled from Labour over his confrontation with a “pro-Israeli government zealot” – a reference to the Jewish former MP Ruth Smeeth.

Former Labour MP Chris Williamson also spoke – while Ms Walker, who was expelled from the party over antisemitism allegations, later said the LATW meeting was the “best” she had attended this year.


Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive