Holocaust scholar warns Charlottesville trial of Jew-haters’ danger to society at large

Deborah Lipstadt submitted a 48-page report to Sines v Kessler on behalf of the plaintiffs, detailing how antisemitism can infect a society. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

A renowned Holocaust scholar, Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt, gave testimony in Sines v Kessler – the civil case being brought against the organizers of the Unite the Right rally held in Charlottesville in 2017.

The rally brought together a number of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, as well as a larger number of mainstream right-wing protesters who were there to protest against the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee. One person was killed at the rally when a car rammed through a crowd of left-wing counter-protestors.

The case is being brought by nine plaintiffs, residents of the Charlottesville area, who are alleging that in organizing the rally, more than a dozen defendants, including 14 individuals and 10 groups, unlawfully conspired to deprive the plaintiffs of their rights as citizens. Lawyers for the defense are basing their case on their clients’ right to free speech and are claiming that talk of violence before the rally captured in online messaging services was in relation to self-defense.

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According to the New York Times, Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, is scheduled to appear in Charlottesville on Wednesday for the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs want to make the claim that racism has become normalized in American politics.

In a 48-page report she prepared for the trial seen by the Times, Lipstadt wrote: “This fear of active replacement by the Jew, derived directly from the historical underpinnings of antisemitism, is a central feature of contemporary antisemitism.”

She continued: “Two animuses — racism and antisemitism — come together in the concept of a ‘white genocide’ or ‘white replacement’ theory. According to adherents of this theory, the Jews’ accomplices or lackeys in this effort are an array of people of color, among them Muslims and African Americans.”

Lipstadt was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as a State Department special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, pending confirmation by the Senate for the position, which carries the rank of ambassador.

During her career, she has examined the effects of antisemitism on society, writing in her 2019 book Antisemitism: Here and Now: “When expressions of contempt for one group become normative, it is virtually inevitable that similar hatred will be directed at other groups. Even if anti-Semites were to confine their venom to Jews, the existence of Jew-hatred within a society is an indication that something about the entire society is amiss.”

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However, the 2017 rallies at Charlottesville have turned into a political battleground over the intervening years as the Democrats aimed to use the actions of a fringe group of antisemites and neo-Nazis to tar the Trump administration.

An oft-repeated false claim that Trump had called the white supremacist protestors “very fine people” was debunked during his second impeachment trial, when the full video of the press conference at which the comment was made was shown.

“You had a group on one side and you had a group and the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch,” Trump told reporters. “I think there’s blame on both sides… but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

Meanwhile, many of the white supremacist groups involved in the rally have since dissolved due to a level of infighting evidenced in the court case.