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Report from Seminar 2 B on Legislation: Possibilities limits and effects
Presentation by Mr. Jeremy Jones
Presentation by Mr. Charles Korman
Presentation by Mr. Jeremy Jones
Presentation by Jeremy Jones
In Australia, where knowledge of Nazi crimes is a given, Holocaust Denial has far different implications than when propagated in Europe. It should be borne in mind that in Asia and the Pacific, the Allies had as their primary concern Japanese Imperialism and the Second World War is seen largely through the prism of those circumstances. In considering this topic it must be remembered that in countries outside Europe and, to a lesser extent, the Americas, the Shoah – the Holocaust, does not have the same political resonance as in the countries once occupied by, or in direct confrontation with, Nazism.
Regardless of political and historical circumstances, Holocaust Denial is part of the armoury of antisemites. It is a dangerous fallacy to treat Holocaust Denial as if it is part of any form of historical debate. The most well-informed of historians of the Nazi period cannot be expected to be able to handle the apolitical and pseudo-academic argumentation of individuals and organisations whose concerns have nothing to do with adducing an understanding of the past but a great deal to do with undermining the social positions of Jews. As Kenneth Stern put it, Holocaust Denial has roughly the same relationship with the study of history as the Medieval claim that Jews poisoned the wells of Christians had to do with a discussion of water quality.
Holocaust Denial needs to be dealt with as part of a general strategy in opposing antisemitism and other manifestations of racism, prejudice, discrimination and bigotry. In a society such as Australia's, education, vigorous participation in public debate and promotion of ideals which stand in contradistinction to racism are crucial, but in certain circumstances are insufficient. The breaking down of stereotypes, caricatures and prejudice can and does have an effect where there is an element of goodwill, but legislation is required when harm is caused by those individuals who are not interested in common decency, let alone truth.
It is vital that we at all times bear in mind the fact that there are human beings who have their rights to live their lives free of harassment, intimidation, vilification and the threat of violence impinged upon by hate mongers. No civilised community can remain neutral in a contest between victims and victimisers, bullies and their targets.
That is the logic behind legislation such as the state and federal anti-racism laws which provide recourse to those whose quality of life has been diminished by the peddlars of hate.
In 2000 CE, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), the Australian Government instrumentality which administers the Federal Racial Discrimination Act, brought down decisions in two cases involving the propagation of Holocaust Denial - in one case as the primary and the other case a secondary feature in antisemitic campaigns. As the Complainant in both cases, participation in the legal process provided me with a rare insight into how Australian law can be used as a means to protect the rights of innocent targets of propaganda campaigns, as well as providing an understanding of the limits of the use of legislation.
The decisions in both cases are published on the Internet. The case of the Hobart Hebrew Congregation and Jeremy Jones (in his capacity as Executive Vice President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry) v Olga Scully is found at URL http://scaleplus.law.gov.au/html/rdadec/0/2000/0/RD000110.htm.
For many years, Olga Scully of the Tasmanian city of Launceston has been distributing material which, by any measure, is virulently antisemitic. All appeals to her decency have been without success. Appeals to the managers of markets at which she peddled her wares were met with concern that they would be breaching her rights if they acted to protect her victims from vilification. With the decision in her case, she is no longer able to claim that her activity is anything other than "unlawful".
The decision in the case of Jeremy Jones and Members of the Committee of Management of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry on behalf of those members of the Jewish Community of Australia who are members of organisations affiliated to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry v Fredrick Toben on behalf of the Adelaide Institute can be found at URL http://scaleplus.law.gov.au/html/rdadec/0/2000/0/RD000130.htm. This judgement, brought down shortly after the Scully decision, was more directly focused on Holocaust Denial.
Within days of the Adelaide Institute website appearing for the first time on the Internet, requests to the roof body of the Australian Jewish community to take action exceeded any previous public demonstration of disquiet with the activities of an Australian-based promoter of anti-Jewish material. The wheels of justice tend to move slowly, particularly when precedents were being considered in the assessment of Australian law's ability to deal with both Holocaust Denial and with the Internet as a medium. Between the time the public hearing of the Complaint was convened and the Decision was released, Fredrick Toben had not only been arrested in Germany for material which had some overlap with that identified in my Complaint in Australia, but had also been sentenced to and served a prison sentence.
Neither Fredrick Toben nor Olga Scully have, at the time of this paper's presentation, followed the Directions given by HREOC to desist from their propagation of anti- Jewish material, nor have either of them followed the further Direction to make public pologies, and both will face Australia's Federal Court later in 2001 regarding their failure to comply with these Directions. Nevertheless, the findings in the cases established that the advocacy of antisemitism, including Holocaust Denial, is an offence in Australia, whether in the form of leaflets or online communications.
This paper opened with reference to the fact that Holocaust Denial is not seen the same way in every jurisdiction. Before returning to Australia on his release from the German prison, Fredrick Toben was feted in Iran, where he was able to present himself as a warrior against "Zionism" in the mass media in that controlled society.
According to the literature of the notorious Holocaust Denial outfit, the Institute of Historical Review, an international gathering of Holocaust deniers, likely to include Fredrick Toben as well as individuals whose behaviour has been found to be unlawful in other countries, will take place in Beirut, Lebanon, this coming March. At this stage it is unclear as to the level of official support for a blatant attempt to bring together overt antisemites with others who disguise their antisemitism as anti- Zionism, but it is abundantly clear that, in Iran and Lebanon among other nation states, the last thing we are likely to see is legislation as a tool against Holocaust Denial.
Nevertheless, in those jurisdictions which have determined that victims of racism have recourse, victims of antisemitism should fall under the same protective umbrella.
As Holocaust Denial is antisemitism, despite the subjective desirability of specific laws against it in particular countries, those who have to confront it should be able to avail themselves of anti-racist laws.
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