Here’s an interesting exchange of tweets between two Open Zion contributors, Ben White and Brent Sasley:
BW: it is a “legitimate concern” that I am a “Roger Garaudy fan”? Really?
BS: I don’t agree with many of your positions and arguments, and am concerned about your ultimate goals.
BW: gosh, my “ultimate goals”? Care to be specific about any of that? And are you concerned I’m a fan of Garaudy?
BS: My understanding of Garaudy is that he’s a Holocaust denier; I’m worried about anyone who supports such a person.
BW: and what’s your evidence that I “support” him?
BS: What are your thoughts on Garaudy?
BW: Well I wouldn’t say a Holocaust denier is worth many of my thoughts
BS: Good to hear. Do you think Garaudy is one?
BW: um…are you being slow on purpose?
BS: I’m engaging seriously–no need for insults.
BW: I think the logical conclusion of the last 4 or so tweets would be that yes, I think Garaudy was a Holocaust denier (cos he was)
BS: Thanks for being specific.
If Ben White acknowledges that Garaudy was a Holocaust denier, then what was his doing citing Roger Garaudy’s work in his own book, which was supposed to be an introduction for the uninitiated on Israel? What does this tell us about Ben White?
Ben White includes a Roger Garaudy essay on Zionism in his ’select bibliography’ (p.162) of Israeli Apartheid Guide. Garaudy was convicted of Holocaust denial in France in 1998 under France’s Gaysott Law.
The essay White recommends is ‘Religious and Historical Pretexts of Zionism‘, from Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. VI, No. 2, Winter 1977. There is no Holocaust denial in this essay, but there is a nasty logic at work within this – Garaudy sees Zionists as having taken their blueprint from Hitler and the Nazis, inverting antisemitism and the Nuremberg laws to create a Jewish state. Garaudy, in the essay that White recommends, cites Koestler (who in 1976 published the theory that Jews are really Khazars) and Israel Shahak’s writings on Zionism.
So here you have someone now publicly known as a Holocaust denier, who was drawing on popular antisemitic myths to attack Israel. And Ben White recommended him in 2009.
It is no longer 1977, but 2009, and Garaudy’s Holocaust denial should mean that White does not treat Garaudy as a serious author, any more than White would respect Ahmadinejad as a serious commentator in the light of Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
Given that Ben White claims that his book is a “beginner’s guide”, is it really appropriate to present Holocaust deniers as legitimate historians and commentators to newcomers to the Israel-Palestine debate?
Ben White has form of being dodgy and untrustworthy on this issue – he tried to argue in an article published in January 2006 that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not a Holocaust denier, but then 4 days later, Iran announced plans for a Holocaust review conference.
Open Zion and Peter Beinart really ought to clear up why exactly they published him.