BETHESDA – Local religious, government and community leaders sponsored a private screening of the film, “Denial,” Oct. 6 at the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema movie theater to highlight increased anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incidents on college campuses.
The film is based on Emory University Professor Deborah Lipstadt’s book, “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.”
It details events after she was sued for libel for calling British author and historian David Irving a denier for his speeches and writings claiming that the Holocaust never happened and there were no gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Because the trial took place in England, Lipstadt, the defendant, had to prove Irving voiced an untrue position. Had he sued her in the United States, Irving would have had to prove that Lipstadt had libeled him.
The 110-minute film, which opens nationwide Oct. 21, was followed by a video previously taped at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and featured an interview with Lipstadt and the movie producers.
During the video, Lipstadt noted how many people urged her to settle the case rather than give Irving any publicity. She said she could never have done that.
What could she possibly have agreed to, that only 3 million Jews, and not 6 million, had been killed in the Holocaust, she wondered.
Following the several-weeks long trial, the judge ruled in Lipstadt’s favor.
In the April 2000 verdict, the judge noted that if Irving had been a true historian, his published statements could not have been 100 percent against the Holocaust. That proved the malicious intent needed to rule in Lipstadt’s favor.
The 333-page verdict was important, she said, because so many people today believe whatever they read on the Internet.
Some people the Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad perpetuated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; that there was no Armenian genocide and slaves in America were treated well.
Tony Hausner, who organized the private screening, noted, “Holocaust denial is still a very relevant issue as massacres still continue throughout the world today.”
He told the audience, “We cannot allow that to continue.”
Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman, Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group’s interfaith community liaison, likened Holocaust denying to the current political atmosphere.
“It’s scary today to find people caring less about what is the truth than what is being said,” said Kaseman.
Shortly after viewing the film, he said, “We need to face the truth. That’s what’s going to make us really free. For me, as a person of faith, I just grieve to think that today there are people who are still denying the Holocaust.”
Kaseman, whose organization helped sponsor the event, said it was important to watch the movie and never deny those “who are scape goats, who are suffering.”
Susan Turnbull, immediate past chair of Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said she chose to be a sponsor so people would watch the movie and hear from Lipstadt and her producers.
“They were exactly right, the truth triumphs everything,” she said.
There are still Holocaust deniers throughout the world, she said, adding, “I am so proud of Montgomery County and feel fortunate to live in so understanding a place that looks to learn.”
Other sponsors included the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and numerous synagogues. The Episcopal Church of the Ascension of Silver Spring and the International Cultural Center in Montgomery Village also were sponsors.
Maryland politicians sponsoring the event included state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) and former Del. Bill Bronrott (D).