Type B Holocaust denial is the one to fear

After the snake in the Garden of Eden, Man learnt to do evil’s bidding in tempting and beautiful ways. From then on forbidden fruit was no match for a silvery tongue. On the wings of fine sentiments depraved causes seduce the human mind; empty mantras draw utopians in droves; wishful thinking trumps facts on the ground; hot denunciations usurp law; parroted claims pass for truth. And who bears the brunt of these fine sentiments, silvery tongues and evil’s bidding?

“The Jews disseminate everywhere the lie of the Holocaust and claim that Hitler killed six million Jews in gas chambers. Although pure falsehood, they have made it part of their history.”[1] Adel Bin Ahmad, preacher at the Jeddah mosque, is a Type A denier. Too crude for admission to decent society, in the Islamic world (or in pockets of the West filled by the Islamic world) Type A deniers are taken with a straight face. Bin Ahmad can talk in that manner because his world is filled with a fear of the awesomely powerful and conspiring Jew. The Type A denier can dispense with tempting appeal and slick tongue – unless he hails from Iran. Mullahs and Ayatollahs from Iran must not disturb minds in Washington while the do or die nuclear deal froths and bubbles. 

 In that case here is another Type A preacher who’ll never mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. Ali Khamenei, ultimate ruler of Iran, speaks with more finesse, but he and the cleric of Jeddah belong together. "Observe that no one in Europe dares to speak about the Holocaust even though it's not clear what the reality is about it, whether it even has a reality, or how it may have happened." [2]      

What is it about Type A deniers that turns one off? Surely they’re too blunt. “Over-the-top” some might say. They’re good for a titter – unless you’re a Noam Chomsky or a Norman Finkelstein, or even a Harold Pinter, who all flirt with crude deniers. We rank and file people, on the other hand, like being pitched in subtle and flattering terms: Eve’s serpent would have a good chance. We’d pay more attention to a feeling or a noble voice -- to a voice like that of David Ward, a British MP.

            “I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians …on a daily basis in the West Bank and GazaThe suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated." 3

Ward is a Type B denier. For clarity sake he shall not go alone. What better companion for Mr. Ward MP than a fellow denier in a suit. Here is Andrew Wilkie of Nuffield College, Oxford.  “I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians.” 4

Attend closely. Type B deniers are sly. Observe how Ward and Wilkie contrive to kill two birds in one foul shot. A) They demonize Israel – “atrocities and gross abuses on Palestinians”; B) they downplay the Holocaust – “persecution and treatment.” After all, lots of people in the world are persecuted and treated appallingly. Yet many live to tell the tale. Persecution and treatment are worlds away from genocide, the methodical mass extermination of six million Jews, not sparing the newborn. Notice further how victimhood is shifted. Jews don’t suffer atrocities, they commit them. We’re invited to think that Nazi Germany treated Jews like third-class citizens: denied them rights and opportunities; deprived them of the basics; imprisoned them without trial; worked them for long hours at low pay; subjected them to curfews and check points; left Jews to cope with cramped conditions and bad food; locked up or eliminated troublemakers. ‘Treatment’ and ‘persecution’ -- even when appalling or unbelievable -- convey no hint of Holocaust elements. Type B deniers don’t want us to think of Jews worked to death; exterminated by factory methods; mowed down village by village, town by town; slaughtered in fits of fury. 

The play on words is no accident. I know because I asked Andrew Wilkie, and he was not able to explain why he chose the particular words: no more than persecution and treatment for Jewish suffering, while deadly atrocities and gross abuse are reserved for Palestinian suffering. Type B deniers don’t think; their Jew-hatred is instinctive. But oh how conscientiously they drum up support with their emotive play on words. First they dwarf the Holocaust to a run-o-the mill crime; then they pair Israel and blameless Palestinians with Nazis and blameless Jews. We’re led to think that after what the Nazis put the Jews through, the latter turned on Palestinians and put them through the same hell. A cycle of violence, if you will.

But how could Jews possibly have turned into Nazis after emerging from the Holocaust hell? Howard Jacobson, the novelist and columnist, poses that question. “What do we in England think we are doing when we call the Israelis Nazis and liken Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto? We want to wound Jews in their recent and most anguished history and to punish them with their own grief. It is as though...Jewish actions of today prove that Jews had it coming to them yesterday. Berating Jews with their own history, disinheriting them of pity is the latest species of Holocaust denial, infinitely more subtle than the David Irving version with its clunking body counts and quibbles over gas-chamber capability and chimney sizes.” 5

So the Type B denier has thought the whole thing out. When he claims that Israelis are the new Nazis he polishes up Hitler’s record while tarnishing Israel’s. There will come a point where the two meet, where like is like, and the denier can say that Jew = Nazi. What seemed all light nonsense before seems all dark purpose now.

But we’ve not plumbed the full depth of Type B deniers. There seems no limit to their methods. Before coming to those, however, we should put the alleged crimes of Israel to bed. Type B deniers refer to atrocities and gross abuses, on a daily basis. Well, exactly what is the score? From 1988 to 2014 Israel tackled three Intifadas plus four big ops: Defensive Shield, Pillar and Defense, Cast Lead and Protective Edge. It killed how many Palestinians over that quarter century? Tally up, then make a comparison with violent crime in peaceful South Africa.  

Here are the numbers: Israel killed a total of 9,942 Palestinians in 25 years, or 400 deaths per year. South African criminals killed some 300 000 victims over 18 years, or 16,600 per year.6 But remember, victims in the second toll would be 100% innocent, while in the Palestinian toll not less than two thirds would be ‘militants’ killed by their own acts of suicide bombing or shooting or firing rockets or directing any of the above. Killers don’t belong in the toll. After all, they who live by the sword shall die by it. What remains are some 135 innocent Palestinians killed yearly -- 123 times below murder victims in peaceful South Africa.

Where are the atrocities? Where are the gross abuses? What makes Type B deniers suggest that Israel copy-cats the Gestapo? What do they make of South Africans, not at war with anyone, who murdered 12,200% more people than Israel and its ‘Nazi-like’ machine? Don’t wait; Type B deniers will disappoint. There are no facts behind the conflation of Israel with the Third Reich. It’s a matter of blind hatred. The brain lobes of deniers don’t blink. The cleverest of men can slip their moorings – and mostly do when Israel comes into the frame.  

Finally what makes Type B deniers a threat to civilized and tolerant society? Why do they pose a bigger danger than Type A? The reason lies in their mode of denial. It irradiates hatred from within, making Type B Holocaust denial more pernicious. Ward and Wilkie beckon us to hate Jews, unlike Type A deniers who speak over our heads. “The Jews disseminate everywhere the lie of the Holocaust …”. When a cleric says that the Holocaust never happened he never alters his focus; we feel no bond with him.

But Type B is different. Jews are not the direct object of hatred; Jews stand for treating people badly. This offers you and I a bridge to cross. We might actually feel like crossing it; after all deniers in suits hate Israelis for good reason. If they hated for no reason they’d not be enlightened, and we’d feel no bond with them. But when they express hatred via sympathy for the victim, then our sympathy is aroused. This is bound to draw people to the cause. The hatred of Type B deniers is well clothed, enlightened. Their disgust for the Jew has a glow.

Steve Apfel is a management accountant, lecturer, consultant, columnist and author based in Johannesburg. His books include, ‘Hadrian’s Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel’s critics (2012); ‘War by other means’ (Contributor, Israel Affairs 2012), and the latest book, ‘Enemies of Zion’ to be published this year. A novel, ‘Balaam’s curse’ is in the pipeline.

1.  Recorded by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), 26 March, 2006.

2.   Holocaust Denial and the Iranian Regime. Marc Gerecht, Mosaic, April 25, 2014

3.  The Huffington Post. January 27, 2013,

4.   Oxford rapped over Wilkie,” Times Higher Education, October 31, 2003.  http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/oxford-rapped-over-wilkie/184548.article.

5.  “Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is,” Howard Jacobson, The Independent,

      18 Feb, 2009.


            1 9 8 8 – 2 0 1 4                      1994 – 2011               1994 – 2011 

Palestinians killed

(Militants + Civil)

1st Intifada               1 549 *   

2nd Intifada               3 196   *
3rd Intifada      1 290 *

Def Shield       240 **

Pillar of Def      137**

Cast Lead      1 385 **

Protect Edge   2 145***

  Total               9 942 

Israelis killed

(IDF + Civil)








Est. 1 700 

    South Africa








300 000 + ****


* International Institute for Counter Terrorism. “An Engineered Tragedy: Statistical Analysis of Casualties in the Palestinian - Israeli Conflict.”                                                       

** B’tselem. (http://www.btselem.org/statistics)

*** Gaza Ministry of Health (quoted in Wikipedia)

**** Ilana Mercer: “Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa,” Ilana Mercer, June, 2011. Preface. (Self-published)