Tuesday 1 February 2000
Irving not anti-Semitic, libel case told
AN expert in Judaism told the High Court yesterday that he did not consider David Irving, the historian who denies the mass gassing of Jews in concentration camps, to be anti-Semitic.
Kevin MacDonald, professor of psychology at California State University, was giving evidence on behalf of Mr Irving, who is suing the American academic Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, for libel. Mr Irving, 62, the author of Hitler's War, claims that his career has been sabotaged by Prof Lipstadt's accusation that he is a "Holocaust denier" who has distorted history in an effort to deny the systematic extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.
In her book, Denying the Holocaust, Prof Lipstadt alleges that Irving misused statistics and documents to serve his own ideological purposes and reach historically untenable conclusions. Mr Irving says the book has generated "waves of hatred" against him.
He has vehemently denied an allegation by the defendants that he has made statements "designed to feed the virulent anti-Semitism" still alive and kicking throughout the world today. Mr Irving, who is representing himself, asked Prof MacDonald, the author of books on Judaism and anti-Semitism: "Do you consider me to be an anti-Semite?"
Prof MacDonald replied: "I do not consider you to be an anti-Semite. I have had quite a few discussions with you and you almost never mentioned Jews - never in the general negative way." During the hearing before Mr Justice Gray, who is sitting without a jury, Mr Irving was accused of making "grossly anti-Semitic" statements.
Richard Rampton, QC, counsel for Miss Lipstadt and Penguin, said the historian had made remarks designed to feed the virulent anti-Semitism still existing in the world.
Mr Irving rejects the claim that he is a Holocaust denier. But he does question the number of Jews killed by the Nazis and the mode of their death, insisting that there is no evidence of the use of gas chambers for mass killings.
The hearing continues.
Tuesday, February 2, 2000