Spanish Daily 'El Mundo' Defends its Interview With Holocaust Denier

By: DANIEL WOOLLS A Spanish newspaper is defending its plans to publish an interview this weekend with a British writer who denies the Holocaust, despite a furious complaint from Israel.

The center-right daily El Mundo plans to run the interview Saturday with David Irving, who served 13 months in prison in Austria after being convicted there in 2006 over charges he denied the Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews.

It is part of a series of six interviews with World War II experts, timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the war's outbreak.

El Mundo said Thursday it wants to publish "innovative" views on World War II for the anniversary. The paper rejects Israel's assertion that this is a case where freedom of speech should be limited, the paper's deputy editor Juan Carlos Laviana said.

Israeli Ambassador Raphael Schutz condemned the newspaper's plans as an insult to its readers, to legitimate historians and to the concept of free speech.

Schutz told The Associated Press that Irving lacks any credibility and does not deserve to be in the same interview lineup. It includes Ian Kershaw, a Briton who is a leading biographer of Hitler, and Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel.

"To put Irving on the same platform with these people may create an impression, and as a matter of fact it does, that he has the same stand while everyone who knows something about the issue knows that David Irving is nothing but ... a con man," the ambassador said.

In the upcoming interview, Irving does not deny the Holocaust, Laviana said. Rather, he stresses that the Allies are to blame for "looking the other way" and ignoring the Nazi genocide, he told the AP.

Irving served his jail time, is now a free man with no charges pending, continues to research the war and is a "victim" of anti-Nazi laws that many countries in Europe are now questioning as too harsh seven decades after the war, Laviana added.

What is more, other controversial opinions expressed in this week's El Mundo interviews have raised no complaints. One is German historian Jorg Friedrich's assertion that Allied air raids on civilians in German cities amounted to murder, Laviana said.

"All we have tried to do in this series of interviews marking the 70th anniversary of the war is seek out the most innovative and surprising positions on the conflict," he said. With the interview, which Laviana described as being of a tough, "hardball" nature, the paper will also publish a piece that debunks some of the data that Irving regularly gives on the Holocaust.

Schutz said Spaniards tend to know less about the war than other Europeans because their country was not directly involved in it, and giving Irving the same outlet as reputable historians "is not helping, to say the least."

This is the second time in just days that Israel has taken issue with a foreign news organization.

Late last month, an article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet suggested Israeli troops had harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. Israel urged the Swedish government to issue an official condemnation of the story, but the Swedes refused, citing freedom of expression.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here