Review: From Empathy to Denial: Arab Response to the Holocaust, Meir Litvak and Esther Webman Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust: Three Essays on Denial, Forgetting, and the Delegitimation of Israel, Elhanan Yakira
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AbstractFollowing historian Deborah Lipstadt's 2000 victory over David Irving in a monumental libel lawsuit, Lipstadt declared that the Holocaust would henceforth reign uncontested as historical fact. Yet within the last five years Holocaust denial has grown exponentially, exacerbating the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as tensions between what the general public often defines as the Western and Muslim worlds. While Litvak and Webman's From Empathy to Denial directly engages scholarship in Holocaust and Middle Eastern studies on this issue, their important work also promises to inform ongoing discussions among rhetoricians about belief systems and intolerance. By framing Holocaust denial in Arab cultures as a distinct subject, Litvak and Webman have used place and time as vital tools for analyzing cultural beliefs underlying anti-Semitism in the Middle East. As a counterpoint, Elhanan Yakira's discussion of political philosophies in Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust seeks to restructure the dominant perception of Holocaust denial as hate speech by exploring how many Jewish intellectuals reference the Holocaust to support their own critiques of Israel rather than to justify its policies toward Palestinians. Within these texts lies an implicit notion of kairos, described by John Poulakos in Sophistical Rhetoric in Classical Greece (U of South Carolina P, 1995), as the ability to “address issues in their topicality and typicality” and “place a single case within a larger context, a context that helps render the case meaningful” (178). The rich contexts provided by Litvak and Webman and Yakira challenge Western ideological reactions toward Holocaust denial in order to foster more meaningful conversations.