"Holocaust Denial: A New Form of Anti-Semitism" is topic of lecture of Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies on September 22


Taking on those who deny the Holocaust ever took place has been the life's work of Deborah Lipstadt, Ph. D., director of the Rabbi Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies and Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University. She has been on the forefront of silencing these offenders, believing their actions amount to anti-Semitism.

On Monday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Lipstadt will talk about her scholarship and experiences when she will be the 2008 Judaic Studies Scholar-in-Residence for Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. She will give a talk, "Holocaust Denial: A New Form of Anti-Semitism," at 7:30 p.m. in the Oak Room, in the Barone Campus Center, following a day teaching Fairfield students. Her visit is made possible by a gift from David and Edith Chaifetz, of Fairfield, Conn. The public is invited to the lecture, which is free of charge, but seating is limited. Please call Elaine Bowman to register at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066 or e-mail ebowman@fairfield.edu.

Dr. Lipstadt said, "The number of Holocaust survivors who come to me and thank me (for the work I do) continues to be terribly touching. That this lecture is scheduled to take place close to Rosh Hashanah is very appropriate."

The lecture will center on Dr. Lipstadt's experience of being sued by a Holocaust "denier" and the celebrated book about it that followed, entitled, History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2005). It is the story of her libel trial in London against David Irving. He sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and right wing extremist, she said. The burden of proof was on her, not Irving. The judge found Irving to be a Holocaust denier and a falsifier of history, according to her web page. "I will talk about the legal elements of the trial, the historical elements, including how deniers lie about history, and thirdly, I will share the personal impact the trial had on me. An eerie feeling came over me having to deal with such a man. Nothing had prepared me for being a defendant in a lawsuit."

School Library Journal called Dr. Lipstadt's book, "a page-turning eyewitness account and a close look at the mind-set and dubious research methods of a neo-Nazi." In its starred review, Publishers Weekly observed: "The drama of the book lies in the courtroom confrontations between an evasive and self-contradictory Irving (serving as his own lawyer) and Lipstadt's strategically brilliant barrister, Richard Rampton, and the scholars who testified in her defense. Lipstadt herself is a reluctant heroine, a feisty, outspoken woman forced to remain silent (she did not testify in court) and let her lawyers speak for her." The book was described by Kirkus Reviews as a "fascinating and meritorious work of legal - and moral - history." 

Dr. Lipstadt also wrote Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (Free Press/Macmillan, 1993), and Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, (Free Press/Macmillan, 1993).

United States leaders have looked to Dr. Lipstadt for her expertise on matters of Jewish interest. She represented President George W. Bush as a member of the official American delegation to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She was a historical consultant to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. President Clinton appointed her to two consecutive terms on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. She served as a member of the United States State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, advising Secretary of State Madeline Albright on matters of religious persecution abroad.

She has received numerous teaching awards including Emory's student government association's award for being the teacher most likely to motivate students to learn about new and unfamiliar topics and the Emory Williams award, for her courses on modern Jewish and Holocaust studies.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 4, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 42