This week, Holocaust survivors globally are embarking upon a campaign, #NoDenyingIt. It will explain — particularly to social media companies and to their users — why Holocaust denial is not mere ignorance, and why Congress, the U.S. State Department and other leading authorities all recognize Holocaust denial as anti-Semitic hate speech.
The recently passed Never Again Education Act calls out Holocaust denial for what it is. Signed into law in May with nearly unanimous bipartisan support, it promotes Holocaust education, partly as a bulwark against the “destructive messages of hate that arise from Holocaust denial and distortion.” The State Department defines anti-Semitism as, among other things, “denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).” The Southern Poverty Law Center explains that “Holocaust denial delegitimizes the suffering of Jews, and exacerbates intergenerational traumas by denying Holocaust history, and codifies anti-Semitic propaganda under the guise of academic research.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have suggested that social media giants would behave more responsibly if they were subject to legal liability, like just about any other company, by removing the immunity for tech companies provided under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
It’s long past time for all social media companies to reflect on their role in enabling the hate speech proliferating on their platforms. Holocaust survivors, many extremely elderly, think it is important even at this stage of their lives to raising their voices with the hope that the Never Again Education Act, as well as the effort to promote Holocaust education and provide a counterweight to denial, is not just an empty promise. Nearly two years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he didn’t think Holocaust deniers were “intentionally getting it wrong.” In reality, claiming that the Holocaust never happened, that the Nazis didn’t murder 6 million Jews, or pretending that gas chambers never existed, is not an innocent mistake or a misguided opinion. It is intentional, it is anti-Semitic, and it is hate speech.