A Conversation with Dr. Ibrahim AlloushThe Journal for Historical Review
May/June 2001, Volume 20 number 3
Ibrahim Alloush is a journalist and university lecturer in Amman, Jordan. A regular columnist for the weekly Jordanian newspaper Assabeel, he is active in the Jordanian Writers and in the Association against Zionism and Racism (AZAR). He is also editor of the Free Arab Voice web site (www.fav.net). Dr. Alloush lived for thirteen years in the United States. He earned graduate degrees at Ohio University and Oklahoma State University, where he earned a doctorate in economics. In his student days in America, he supported himself partly by "flipping burgers, mopping floors, and delivering pizza."
Editor: Nearly a decade ago the Moroccan revisionist Ahmed Rami said that in proselytizing Muslims, Holocaust revisionists were pushing on an open door. In other words, Muslims already mistrusted everything Jews and Zionists said and did--so why make an exception for the Holocaust hoax? Was Rami correct? If so, why have Arabs and Muslims recently begun to investigate and reject the Holocaust imposture?
Ibrahim Alloush: Of course, the Arab public is distrustful of anything the Zionists say or do, and of the Western media in general. However, distrust in and of itself cannot be a satisfactory political defense. Distrust in this context means two specific things: 1) that Zionists and the Western media would have a hard time convincing Arabs of the "Holocaust," and 2) that revisionists would have an easier time with the Arab public than with the Western public. But distrust doesn't mean that the Arab public is forever immune to the myths of the "Holocaust," or that revisionists need not work to bring revisionism to the Arabs.
Many revisionists are jubilant because in the last few months their cause, work, and struggles have been relatively well publicized in the Arab world. Nevertheless, there is a negative aspect to this development as well. In the past several months, we have discovered that the mythology of the "Holocaust" has made far-reaching inroads among Arab intellectuals at the highest levels, and that this mythology has established solid footholds amongst Arabs living in the West and among westernized Arabs in the Arab world. This is a very dangerous development. It arose in the atmosphere of defeatism that prevailed throughout the Arab world in the 1990s, an atmosphere that formed the backdrop for efforts to Zionize the Arab mind by, among other things, spreading the myths of the "Holocaust."
Thus, strategically speaking, Arabs are now on the defensive, if one looks beyond the recent progress of revisionism in the Arab world. You have prominent Arab intellectuals now actively proclaiming the "Holocaust" religion from the rooftops: this would have been unimaginable not long ago. You have the largest circulating Arab daily, Al Hayat of London, actively spreading "Holocaust" myths: until recently this would have unimaginable. You have Arab governments succumbing to Zionist pressures to ban revisionist conferences: earlier this would have been unimaginable, if only out of concern for their popular image.
Surely, there is still a great deal of distrust towards anything Zionist in the Arab world, as far as the average citizen is concerned. But that is not enough. Without more sophisticated defenses, i.e., without historical revisionism, the campaign to Zionize the Arab mind is likely to gain even more ground. Distrust cannot possibly substitute for serious political or historical education. This is even more relevant nowadays, since the Zionists choose to speak through the voices of certain prominent Arab intellectuals. What we need therefore is a coherent, principled, cognizant response to the campaign to Zionize the Arab mind. Therein lies the promise of historical revisionism for us Arabs, and the importance of the work of revisionists like Ahmed Rami and his colleagues.
After consolidating their gains in the West, the Zionists have essentially succeeded in bringing the battle to the Arab collective psyche through such Trojan horses as the fourteen Arab intellectuals who signed the petition to ban the conference on "Zionism and Revisionism" in Beirut. When persons such as Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish, who occupy so estimable a stature in the Arab intellectual realm, openly embrace the religion of the "Holocaust," this means that the cancer of the "Holocaust" has metastasized outside the West. We cannot rely only on natural Arab defenses, as strong as these may be, to fight this cancer. We must resort to more conscious means of resistance, hence, historical revisionism.
On the other hand, the above analysis would be incomplete if it were not pointed out that those Arabs who embrace the "Holocaust" have lost significant political credit in the last few months, in exact proportion to the ascendancy of revisionism in the Arab world. These people have chosen to become the purveyors of an intellectual virus naturally rejected by the Arab mind. By so doing, they have either risked self-alienation by sincerely embracing the "Holocaust," or have lost a great deal of respect by seeming to espouse the "Holocaust" for opportunistic reasons. In this context, please be aware that certain Arabs who are spreading the "Holocaust" myths welcome direct attacks from revisionists or other Arabs, since they hope to use such attacks for benefits and privileges from the West and the Zionists.
Editor: How did you first encounter Holocaust revisionism?
Alloush: My first encounter with it was through Roger Garaudy's Founding Myths, then through hearing a couple of lectures by Pierre Guillaume. In this regard, I would like to make a point about how revisionists operate. The most important revisionist works are volumes written in abstruse language that is difficult for the average person, whether in the West or in the Arab world. We should learn from what Roger Garaudy did in Founding Myths. Painstaking research findings are not enough: revisionist findings should be popularized in pamphlets and articles directed to the average person, who has neither the time nor the background to delve into thick volumes. The research findings of historical revisionism can only become politically effective if they reach the people. Therefore, revisionist work should proceed along two parallel lines: the serious academic work of debunking the "Holocaust" myths, and the even more important work of popularizing revisionism. A division of labor is needed. The way in which Roger Garaudy's book was received shows the need for popular revisionism. He was not the foremost revisionist historian, but he was able to popularize revisionism in the Arab world, because he was able to simplify revisionism and to connect it to current political events.
The other lesson from the experience of the Garaudy book lies in recognizing the relevance of revisionism beyond its traditional boundaries. Since revisionism is not an ideology, but a method of historical research, it is crucial that revisionism obtain spokespersons from across the ideological spectrum, from the extreme left to the extreme right. As a Muslim, Roger Garaudy was able to reach many who were inaccessible to revisionists before. Now revisionists may revise the Second World War out of different ideological motives, but they all abide by a certain scientific logical structure in their work. What I am suggesting here is that efforts be made to reach people from different continents, races, and ideological affiliations. For example, in the Arab world, many supporters of revisionism are leftists. For them, the myths of the "Holocaust" are associated with rationalizing Zionist and imperialist hegemony in the Arab world, and exposing the "Holocaust" is associated with resisting that hegemony. To be sure, there are many leftists, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, et al. amongst revisionists already. However, these elements are overshadowed by a myth that Zionists spread about revisionists: that they are all Nazi sympathizers seeking to justify Nazi crimes. More efforts need to be made to speak to each people in its own idiom, just as the Zionists do. I, for one, consider myself totally opposed to any form of racism and racialist ideology, including Nazism. Yet it is precisely that perspective which makes me oppose the most important form of racism and racist ideology prevailing in the world today: Zionism. As one of the ideological bulwarks of Zionist power, the "Holocaust" must be exposed. I should add that many of those who claim to be anti-Nazi have colonial and racist track records that surpass that of the Nazis by any objective standard. Furthermore, many use the banner of anti-Nazism today to spread their colonial tentacles across the globe, and that is the more current threat: Zionism and racism hiding behind the banner of anti-Nazism.
Editor: What was your initial opinion of Holocaust revisionism?
Alloush: It introduced me to a new aspect of the Arab-Zionist conflict, and, more important, it helped me understand much better why public opinion in the West supports Zionists and ignores Palestinian suffering. I realized that those times I had seen the "Holocaust" brought up to eclipse Palestinian Arab suffering at the hands of Zionists were part of a central Zionist strategy, not mere aberrations or excesses of misguided souls.
Of course, I have learned a lot more, especially in the last few months. But there is still so much more to learn. I have been especially intrigued by the ideological variety among revisionists. I think this variety should be highlighted, not suppressed, because it dispels the myth that revisionists are a monolithic group of Nazi sympathizers.
Editor: What are the most common objections among Arabs to Holocaust revisionism?
Alloush: Some of the most common objections to revisionism in the Arab world arise out of considerations of political expediency. These objections typically come in the form of the claim that "Holocaust" revisionism alienates public opinion in the West because whether the "Holocaust" is true or not, Westerners believe in it. So we are better off just "going with the flow," or "getting with the program." A variation on this is the shrewd political strategy of the ostrich: simply to avoid the subject altogether. "The events of the Second World War are not relevant to us. We don't want to get into it. Then it will just go away!" Or, in a more sophisticated variation of the ostrich strategy, one that has gained ground recently: "Let's pay lip service to the myths of the `Holocaust' to avoid trouble, but let's work as hard as possible to dissociate the `Holocaust' from such political applications as its justifying the settling of alleged `Holocaust' survivors in Palestine, justifying Zionist violations of international law, and justifying Western financial, political, and military support for the Zionist movement." This is basically an adaptation of [Norman] Finkelstein's approach. Predictably, it prompts Arabs to parrot "Holocaust" myths, without necessarily succeeding in dissociating these myths from the political applications which the "Holocaust" was invented to serve. The most frequent objection, however, echoes the cliché that associating with revisionists would stigmatize us as Nazi sympathizers, and thus discredit our cause.
Editor: How do you answer these objections?
Alloush: Many of these objections were tackled in recent issues of the Free Arab Voice (www.fav.net). But, very briefly, it should be made clear that revisionists neither deny nor condone the deaths of Jews during the Second World War. However, the "Holocaust" ceased long ago to be about the Jews who died in that war. The "Holocaust" is about Zionist power and policies. As stated, the "Holocaust" myths serve specific objectives: justifying Zionist settlement in Palestine; cultivating a guilt complex in the West over the "Holocaust" as the result of Western anti-Semitism; mobilizing Western public opinion behind financial, political, and military support for the Zionist movement; and condoning Zionist infractions of international law under the pretext that the wartime deaths of the Jews were unique and unparalleled in human history!
The problem, however, is that one cannot separate the "Holocaust" from its political objectives. The "Holocaust" is the ideological arm of the Zionist movement. Given its political power and reach, it has to be confronted. You can yield to it or you can face it down, but you cannot pretend, as some would have us do, that it doesn't exist. Accepting 1) that five or six million Jews died in the Second World War, 2) as a result of a deliberate Nazi policy of genocide, 3) in alleged gas chambers -- the essence of the "Holocaust" accusation, today includes attributing responsibility to the entire non-Jewish world for this allegedly singular event -- and accepting, to compensate for it, that the "survivors" deserve a new homeland, that the "Holocaust" can be invoked as an extenuating circumstance every time the Zionists commit crimes against humanity, and so on.
On the other hand, putting the wartime Jewish deaths in the proper context has no such political implications. It should be made clear then that several hundred thousand Jews did die in the Second World War, along with tens of millions of others; that there was no Nazi policy to exterminate the Jews, but rather one of deportation, including deportation to Palestine; and that there were no gas chambers, but instead crematoria, used to incinerate the bodies of those, of all nationalities and religions, who died from all causes, but chiefly disease. Note that the above, while not condoning Nazi practices -- especially, from the Arab standpoint, the deportation of Jews to Palestine -- puts the wartime deaths of Jews in proper perspective, and eliminates all political implications with the power of the truth. The Jewish losses were not unique, and didn't happen in an unprecedented way. They don't justify a guilt complex in the West, and do not justify any favoritism whatsoever for the Jews. Thus, contrary to the political short-sightedness of those who think that revisionist arguments revolve merely around statistics (refuting the six million figure), the truth about how, how many, and why Jews died in the Second World War can liberate humanity from the extortion of the high priests of the "Holocaust" religion. Until that happens, accepting the received version of the "Holocaust" necessarily implies accepting its political implications. Criticizing the "Holocaust" industry, on the other hand, purports merely to preserve "Holocaust" myths from the excesses of its high priests. It does not deter the Zionist strategy of the "Holocaust" from its political objectives.
Editor: What of the accusation that associating with revisionists would stigmatize Arabs as Nazi sympathizers and discredit their cause in the West, especially in the light of the fact that El Haj Amin al Husseini cooperated with Germans?
Alloush: Let's set the historical record straight. The cooperation between Zionists and Nazis preceded that of El Haj Amin al Husseini with Nazi Germany by many years. In fact, the main purpose of El Haj Amin al Husseini's contacts with the Germans was to thwart their support for the Zionists. Between 1933 and 1938, the Nazis were on decidedly good terms with the Zionists, as evidenced by the Haavara agreement, which facilitated Jewish immigration to Palestine as well as economic and logistical support through Jewish capital. In 1938, the Nazis decided to take a more balanced approach towards the Arabs, while maintaining their cooperation with the Zionists; El Haj Amin tried to use this opening to put an end to Nazi support for Zionists. Evidently his strategy eventually bore fruit, since Nazi-Zionist cooperation came to an end around 1942. If cooperation with the Nazis is the criterion for condemning El Haj Amin, then the Zionists were guiltier by far than El Haj Amin al Husseini. Nazi-Zionist cooperation was the direct precursor of al Husseini's cooperation with the Germans, in addition to British support for the Zionists, of course.
Editor: Is there any leader or faction who is or might be most disposed to champion Holocaust revisionism in your part of the world?
Alloush: To the best of my knowledge, most Arab regimes and leaders would not dare embrace "Holocaust" revisionism openly. However, it enjoys a great deal of support among the people, the intellectuals, the activists, and even among officials of Arab regimes, so long as they don't have to profess it openly. When revisionist ideas have been presented, the people have been extremely receptive. The Arab world is fertile ground for revisionist seeds. Still, much work is needed, as mentioned above.
Editor: Holocaust revisionism seems to be alive, and growing, among Muslims and Arabs of many nationalities, from Morocco to India, but it would seem that it should be flourishing above all among the Palestinians, who are the chief victims of the Holocaust racket and whose own experiences most parallel those claimed by the Jews. How is Holocaust revisionism faring among Palestinians at home and in exile?
Alloush: If it weren't for a few Palestinian and Arab intellectuals, revisionism would be dominant among Palestinians. In fact, Arabs and Palestinians who embrace "Holocaust" myths in the Arab world do so with a very low profile. In the nineties, Arafat tried to proclaim his belief in the "Holocaust," but everyone, including the Zionists, realized that he was doing so for tactical reasons. There has been one Palestinian political group on the left which seems to be emitting signals indicating its timid embrace of the "Holocaust" religion. I shall refrain from naming this group because it has yet to take a public stand to that effect, although many of its supporters have been criticizing our revisionist efforts. Still, many Palestinians who reside in Western nations have either imbibed the myths of the "Holocaust" wholeheartedly, or simply pay tribute to such myths to avoid clashes with the mainstream.
Editor: Based on your own experiences in America as a student and as an academic, do you have any advice for readers of the Journal on how best to educate their fellow Americans on the Palestine question and the Holocaust myth?
Alloush: I think the most important thing for revisionists in the next stage of their work is to shatter the Zionist accusation that the purpose of revisionist work is to whitewash Nazism. They should establish beyond reasonable doubt that the purpose of their work is to promote truth and justice. To accomplish that, they need to reach out to people from across the ideological spectrum, from many races and continents. In addition, as it stands now, revisionism has too many prophets and not enough preachers. The next step will be to popularize revisionism, and to bring it the non-Western world.