Anti-semitic Books and Tracts Displayed at Book Fair in Geneva

The display of books by anti-Semitic authors and tracts questioning the truth of the Holocaust at the International Book Fair here disturbed the Jewish community and drew a letter of protest from the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Pinchas Eliav, to the organizers of the event.

The fair, which closed on May 17, was the first book fair hosted by Geneva. It displayed books and periodicals from 400 publishers in 30 countries and was covered by 700 journalists from all over the world. The Iranian stand had on sale the notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an anti-Semitic forgery of the 19th century. The Palestine Liberation Organization also had a stand for its propaganda.

But eyebrows were raised by the French Library’s display under the title “Traditional France Opposed to Cosmopolitan Subversion.” “Cosmopolitan” has long been a code word in anti-Semitic European circles for international Jewry.

Under that headline were books by Ferdinand Celine, a world famous, highly acclaimed author who acknowledged during his lifetime that he was an anti-Semite. There were also works by obscure authors, including one titled “Should Henry Roques Be Shot Dead?” which claims the Nazi gas chambers never existed. The same claim was contained in a display of comic strips by a cartoonist named Knok, which appeared alongside a book titled “A Painter Named Hitler.”

The book fair was criticized by Roland Sussman, editor of The Jewish Review published in Zurich. “Greed for financial success should not override morality,” he said, adding that he hoped the planners of the next book fair will exercise better judgement in choosing its participants.

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