The Arty Semite

Denying Robert Faurisson

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy of Les éditions Denoël
Valérie Igounet She negates the arguments of the negationists.

French anti-Semitism is a recurrent struggle, most recently shown by the Cannes Film Festival’s abrupt cancellation of “The Anti-Semite” — a film starring Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, a French comic with a history of anti-Semitism.

Dealing with another strand of the trait, French historian Valérie Igounet’s useful “The Story of Holocaust Denial in France,” from Les éditions du Seuil in 2000, is now followed by “Robert Faurisson: Portrait of a Holocaust Denier,” out from Les éditions Denoël in March. In it, Igounet meticulously analyzes the French literature professor who notoriously denied that Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews during World War II.

As reasoning, Faurisson complained that he found few war-era photographs of gas chambers in archives. In 1974, one Frenchwoman who survived Auschwitz wrote a trenchant public letter, ironically apologizing to Faurisson for not bringing her camera along when she was deported. In 1978, after Faurisson sent a letter to historians asking if they believed that Hitler’s gas chambers were a “myth,” the Jewish monthly “Tribune Juive” published an open letter to Faurisson, asking whether he himself was mythical.

Igounet points to the non-historian Faurisson’s misuse of sources, poor grasp of German, and other flaws visible to all except those determined to believe his message. The latter include Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Dieudonné. Igounet traces Faurisson’s derangements back to his 1929 birth as the illegitimate offspring of a Scotswoman and French father, whence his obsession with “purity” of ancestral bloodlines. At first the author of narcissistic texts on literature, Faurisson proposed in 1962 that a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, “Vowels,” was “really” about eroticism. Faurisson’s self-congratulatory book claimed that all previous Rimbaud critics were guilty of lying, just as he would later accuse all accurate Holocaust historians of mendacity.

Faurisson was promptly slated by Rimbaud expert René Étiemble for following the “paranoiac critical interpretations so dear to Salvador Dali, immortalized in André Breton’s anagram ‘Avida Dollars.’” When the publisher of his Rimbaud book rejected one of his Holocaust-denying screeds, Faurisson flew into an “insane rage,” screaming: “I should have known you were part Jewish!” Faurisson is currently enjoying a cushy retirement pension from the University of Lyons, where he was paid a salary from 1979-1995 in exchange for not teaching, since his views were an embarrassment to most colleagues, but union rules did not allow him to be fired outright.

Still playing tennis at the Sporting Club of Vichy, where he aptly lives, Faurisson continues to adore publicity. In 2007, he sued the French Jewish statesman Robert Badinter for libel — and lost — after Badinter termed Faurisson a “historical counterfeiter.” Igounet has done well to make these counterfeits better known and understood.

Watch Valérie Igounet speaking at a February Paris academic conference about Holocaust denial.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Valérie Igounet, Robert Faurisson



Find us on Facebook!
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.