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El Mundo Interview

3 September 2009

This week El Mundo, the Spanish newspaper, is running a series of interviews marking 70 years since the outbreak of WWII. Among those interviewed are historians Ian Kershaw, Richard Evans, Andrew Roberts, Jorg Friedrich, and Avner Shalev, and included among this group is inexplicably David Irving. Earlier this summer, El Mundorequested an interview with Avner Shalev, the Chairman of Yad Vashem for this retrospective, and we granted the interview, which was published today, as we were informed the paper would be speaking to various experts in the field. Yesterday, Yad Vashem learned of Irving's involvement. Following is a letter from Mr. Shalev to El Mundo.

September 3, 2009

Sr. D. Pedro J. Ramírez
Director
El Mundo
Madrid

Dear Mr. Ramirez,

I was profoundly disturbed that your newspaper saw fit to interview David Irving as part of its retrospective on the outbreak of World War II and publish his views. I spent a number of hours with your reporter, because I assumed that this was a honest look at the issues relating to World War II and the Holocaust. Had I been informed that Irving was being interviewed as part of this retrospective, I certainly would not have consented to participate in the series you are publishing.

In addition to being the most infamous purveyor of denial of the Holocaust in the world and a man who has served time in Austria for his Holocaust denial activities, during the libel trial that he initiated against Professor Deborah Lipstadt, Irving was thoroughly discredited as a historian. Indeed, at the conclusion of the trial, the English court found that in his writings Irving had intentionally misquoted and manipulated documents. To include him as an expert or controversial historian awards him legitimacy he does not deserve, and gives false credibility to his abhorrent ideas.

Irving is not only a hate monger; he is an utterly unreliable source for the discussion of any historical event. Placing his opinions alongside respected figures like Sir Ian Kershaw and Professor Richard Evans or institutions like Yad Vashem, recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award, grants him a legitimization that he does not deserve and puts into doubt the credibility of your newspaper.

It is inconceivable that a serious newspaper would provide a platform for antisemitism and Holocaust denial. This is not an issue of freedom of speech. Rather, it goes to the very heart of responsible journalism and judgment. There are some things that dont have a pro or con: the Holocaust is one of them. The integrity of your newspaper - both in how you approached me for this interview, as well as in your colossal lack of judgment in interviewing a man like Irving - has been irreparably damaged.

Sincerely,

Avner Shalev
Chairman
Yad Vashem