Dr Robert John writes to The Times Literary Supplement, London from New York
Letters to the Editor, Times Literary Supplement.
June 26, 1998
I HAVE just read the Commentary by Robert Tombs on the Dreyfus Affair in TLS May 1st.
What was the relevance of this history to the present? I know that there are men in Europe today who, like Zola, have been fined and or sentenced to prison terms for what they have written. So, in the period for 'General Discussion' in the session on Raison d'Etat, I went to the microphone and said "Chaque âge a besoin d'un Zola--Each Age Needs a Zola. Today, where is he? When a professor wrote a letter to the newspaper Le Monde (29 Dec. 1978); and because of that was suspended from teaching at the University of Lyons, and sentenced to fines or imprisonment, where was our Zola? He was not in France," I said. "He was here in America. A Jewish professor of linguistics, Noam Chomsky, wrote in defense of Professor Faurisson's right to write and express his beliefs."
"Unlike Zola's time, French society, American society, has not been divided by Chomsky's championing of freedom of speech. No court has overturned the professor's conviction. Instead, his university tenure was revoked, and he has been further fined under the Fabius-Gayssot Law." This punishes "contestation des crimes contre l'humanité" with one month to two years in prison and/or fines of 2,000 to 300,000 francs.
The chairperson, Gita May, of Columbia University, said "I suppose this is a rhetorical question," and passed on.
In 1941 (6 Jan.) President Roosevelt declared, "we look forward to a world founded upon four essential freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world."
Where are our Zolas?
Officially the author of The Palestine Diary is Hadawi, who is in his nineties, living in Toronto. Dr John explains that Hadawi lent him his collection of documents, had the resulting manuscript typed, sent a copy to historian Arnold Toynbee, and found him a publisher.