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May 24, 2017 12:18 pm

Report: UK Jewish Leaders Demand Infamous Holocaust Denier David Irving’s Books Be Removed From University of Manchester

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University of Manchester campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A coalition of the UK’s foremost Jewish leaders has demanded that Holocaust denier David Irving’s books be removed from “open access” at the University of Manchester’s main library, Christian Today reported on Tuesday.

A letter signed by the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Holocaust Education Trust, the Union of Jewish Students and the Community Security Trust will reportedly be presented to Manchester’s vice chancellor this week, marking a major step of intervention in a saga that has dragged on for some time now.

According to the report, the letter states:

We understand that you have already received multiple complaints regarding these books and are yet to take appropriate measures. David Irving was labelled by a High Court Judge as an antisemitic, racist Holocaust denier in 2000 when he lost his libel case against historian Deborah Lipstadt. Irving was subsequently sentenced to three years in an Austrian prison following speeches in which he referred to the “gas chambers fairy tale” and called the Holocaust a “myth”. More recently he spoke at a far-right event in London where, according to press reports, Auschwitz was compared to Disneyland and the death of Jo Cox was referred to as “cheery news”. The fact that his writings can be found on the same shelves as books by legitimate historians is not just an insult to the victims of the Holocaust and their descendants, but also risks these books being endorsed as accurate historical fact.

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The push to get books proposing Holocaust denial theories out of open display in main university libraries has been a project of Irene Lancaster, a Jewish historian at Manchester.

Earlier this year, a college at Cambridge University moved Irving’s biography of Winston Churchill to “closed access,” available now only on demand,  following a complaint by Lancaster. The report said other universities also have policies in place banning Irving’s works from the main shelves.

Lancaster has reportedly appealed for the intervention at Manchester — where the administration has thus far refused to move Irving’s books — of the government’s Minister of Universities and Sciences, Jo Johnson, but Lancaster was told that while the ministry “in no way condones such literature…free speech and academic freedom are fundamental to our higher education system and wider society.”

The campaign to relocate David Irving’s literature has been advanced in the last month by a former Archbishop of Canterbury, a local Labour parliamentarian and the mayor of Salford (a city near Manchester), according to the report.

Johnson has previously called on universities to adopt the international definition of antisemitism, which the government officially recognized in December 2016.

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