New York – The Jewish Week

Robert A. Kahn

Even though France, Germany and Austria punish Holocaust denial, the initial response of most Americans, and even American Jews, toward these laws is disbelief. The concerns are twofold.

First, as a normative matter, they ask how a society can punish deniers without violating free speech. Second, from a more pragmatic perspective, they ask how a society can prosecute a denier without either creating a martyr or, worse still, turning the prosecution into a trial of the Holocaust.

These concerns, however, can be overstated and, furthermore, there are important reasons why a European country like France or Germany would want to ban Holocaust denial.