About a month ago, Amazon.com shocked me by sending an email recommending a book engaged in Holocaust denial (in the guise of “debating” the facts): “Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides” By Thomas Dalton, Ph.D. The Amazon site promoting this book includes a review that breathlessly proclaims in large print: “THE CONTROVERSY THAT WON’T GO AWAY. NOW, THE TRUTH BEHIND THE HOLOCAUST DENIAL DEBATE.”
And it goes on: “There was no budget. There was no plan. There was no extermination order from Hitler. …” Almost all the reviews and comments I found there were truly sickening.
I must have gotten flagged by Amazon’s online algorithm because I bought the 25th anniversary paperback edition of Edwin Black’s “The Transfer Agreement,” a problematic subject matter but not written with any kind of anti-Jewish or even anti-Israel agenda. Edwin Black was televised on the C-Span 2 “Book TV” channel, back in January, discussing this book.
Early in the days of the Nazi regime, the Zionist movement negotiated with the Nazis to ransom tens of thousands of German Jews. They broke a widespread boycott of Nazi Germany at the time with an agreement (the Transfer Agreement) to buy German goods to go with the 60,000 or more German Jews who found refuge in Palestine in the 1930s. Anti-Zionists argue that this episode proves that the Zionists were in league with the Nazis, but this is a very tendentious and extreme interpretation.
What comes across is that Black’s clearly a Zionist, and apparently of a centrist or mainstream variety—rather than a left-Zionist like myself. He was troubled by what he unearthed but reconciled to the belief that it was for the best. (It’s not by accident that a mainstream Zionist, the ADL’s Abe Foxman–who sometimes sounds like a right-winger–wrote an afterword to this anniversary edition of Black’s book.)
Black states that the deal was meant to save lives, to rescue Jews, as it did. His bottom line is that he doesn’t believe that the anti-Nazi boycott would have caused the regime to fall, but commends it for having made the Transfer Agreement possible. In the end, he salutes both those who carried out the agreement and those who conducted the boycott; he sees the Jews as having been trapped and Palestine as virtually their only hope.
Amazon would likely have also flagged me if I had ordered Shlomo Sand’s “The Invention of the Jewish People” or perhaps even Mearsheimer & Walt’s “Israel Lobby” book (noxious and flawed works but not antisemitic in intent); Sand’s book is listed next to “Debating the Holocaust” in the “Frequently Bought Together” category. Authors who are stridently anti-Israel or anti-Zionist, but not Jew haters, might consider why their books are so popular with actual haters.
In the US (unlike in Europe and Canada), Holocaust Revisionists/Deniers have a legal right to free speech. Maybe the best response is to point out that since these works are available in the public marketplace, this undermines the argument that Jews are so damned powerful.