This is the interview I recorded with Francis on the day of the PSC AGM, immediately after his expulsion had been confirmed in what I consider to have been an extremely unfair hearing. Francis was given 5 minutes to defend himself, after which PSC Chair Hugh Lanning gave the case against. Compared to the trial where David Irving was declared anti-semitic, racist and a holocaust denier, the process was atrocious. And there are many important issues raised by this matter which should really be addressed and considered over time, in regards to what solidarity for the Palestinians means, and what priorities we should adopt as solidarity activists.
The interview took pace in a coffee shop which was noisy at times, and I have done some minimal editing, but do feel that it is an accurate record of the conversation and may help some understand Francis a bit more.
Francis has asked that I add the statement below:
‘The day Roy Bard interviewed me I had appealed unsuccessfully against my expulsion in May 2011 from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Subsequently a transcript of the speech made by Hugh Lanning, on behalf of the Executive Committee of PSC, has surfaced, and this sheds light on aspects of what he said which, in the heat of the moment, I had failed to register.
Although he declares that ‘our campaign is based on justice, human rights and international law,’ among which, presumably, is the right to free thought and speech, he states that ‘Holocaust denial with a big or a little “H” is racist and anti-Semitic.’
But can it really be immoral to question our view of a period of history? There is a problem with the expression ‘Holocaust Denial’ which my original ‘error’ (saying I was proud to call myself a Holocaust denier) was intended to expose. If I deny that the world is flat, I do so not because I happen to have travelled round the world, and never reached its edge, but because scientists all insist the world is round. In other words I trust them.
I don’t trust the people who have told us about the ‘Holocaust’, partly because I have looked at, and listened to, some of the counter-evidence, but largely because I believe the circumstances in which that story grew up and was nurtured make it certain that it has been distorted. The question is only about how much. In other words I am a revisionist. But if people insist on calling you a “Holocaust denier” you eventually come to the point of saying: “Ok, what if I am?”
I put my position to a sceptic like this: “If I had to bet on it, I would put good money on ‘the Holocaust’, as we know it – that is the 6 million figure (give or take a million), the gas chambers and the systematic plan for the extermination of Jews – didn’t happen.’ Of course, I might lose that bet (assuming we had all the evidence we needed). But I might also win it. This is a question of judgement, not of sin.
In the two weeks since that fateful day I have been much encouraged by the support I have received, some of it confidential as people are naturally scared of the consequences of speaking openly. I believe a shift of consciousness is coming. The protection of the ‘Holocaust’ narrative is indicative of a much wider problem, the taboo on talking about the Jewish dimension in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and particularly the Jewish dimension in Palestine solidarity movements.’