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January 4, 2017 4:23 pm

Passengers ‘Totally Overwhelmed’ by Encounter With Historian Deborah Lipstadt While Watching In-Flight Movie ‘Denial,’ Based on Her Infamous Libel Suit

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Actress Rachel Weisz, left, (who plays Lipstadt in “Denial) and Deborah Lipstadt, right. Photo: Courtesy of Bleecker Street Theater.

A mother and daughter were left stunned this week by a surprise encounter with the subject of a film they were watching while on a flight this week.

The incident began when renowned historian Deborah Lipstadt, while waiting for takeoff on board an airplane on Tuesday, notified her Facebook followers that among the films offered as part of the in-flight entertainment package was the new movie based on the high-profile libel suit filed against her by Holocaust denier David Irving. She then asked her social media friends if they thought she should introduce herself to fellow passengers watching “Denial.”

As receiving widespread encouragement to do so, she complied, and approached a mother and daughter from Seattle, who were engrossed in the film.

Before revealing her identity to them, Lipstadt, who teaches Holocaust Studies at Emory University, asked for their thoughts on the film. The mother, Lipstadt recounted, responded with “hands on [her] heart, indicating she is so moved she can’t speak.” At that point, Lipstadt told them who she was, leaving the pair “totally overwhelmed.”

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In a subsequent Facebook post, Lipstadt said she “loved” meeting the mother and daughter — who is an actress — and  was even left “verklempt [Yiddish for choked up with emotion]” by the interaction.

After landing, Lipstadt posted a photo of the pair, and asked followers: “Anyone know these folks? I would love them to see the lovely comments my encounter with them engendered.” Fifteen minutes later, they made contact on social media, with the mother saying, “We were so delighted to meet you. I thought of so many questions to ask you after this encounter, and wish I would have been quicker in the moment!”

“Denial,” released in October 2016, is about Lipstadt’s battle for vindication — and subsequent victory — in a libel suit filed against her and her publisher in a British court by Irving, whom she had accused of falsifying history in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust. Lipstadt is played in the film by Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz.

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