SYDNEY, Australia, March 1 (JTA) — Australia’s Jewish community is outraged by a magazine’s decision to have a Holocaust revisionist cover a libel suit brought by another Holocaust revisionist.
Helen Darville has been assigned to cover the case in London of revisionist David Irving’s suit against American academic Deborah Lipstadt.
Darville, using the name “Helen Demidenko,” authored a 1994 novel, “The Hand That Signed the Paper,” which purported to be a fictionalized oral history of how Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves due to their mistreatment of Ukrainians.
Despite an almost universal view in academic and Jewish circles that the book promoted anti-Semitism, it received Australia’s most prestigious literary award, with special recognition given to the “ethnic” author.
After an inquiry into the writer’s background, it was discovered that Darville had taken the “Demidenko” from a real perpetrator of one of the most notorious incidents of the Holocaust, the massacre at Babi Yar.
The inquiry also found that Darville had a record of supporting right-wing political causes.
Later, Darville had a short-lived career as a newspaper columnist, which ended after she submitted a column plagiarized from an Internet site.
Jack Marx, the editor of Australian Style magazine, defended his choice of Darville, claiming that she “does know a lot about World War II.”
His comment came despite the debunking on historical grounds of much of “The Hand That Signed the Paper.”
Irving is suing Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, who are alleged to have libeled Irving in Lipstadt’s 1994 book “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.”
Irving, 62, who denies that Jews were systematically exterminated at Auschwitz, is claiming that Lipstadt ruined his career by labeling him a Holocaust denier and accusing him of distorting historical data to suit his ideological predilections.
Irving has been refused a visa to visit Australia by a succession of governments, which have declared him a person not of “good character.”
Robert Klarnet, public affairs director of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, said the “decision to have Helen Darville report on David Irving was media sensationalism of the worst kind.”
“To have a person whose reputation is based entirely on perpetrating a literary fraud, with an anti-Semitic novel, interview and write on a person who is an icon amongst the far right could only have been done with the intention of selling magazines rather than illuminating any issue,” he said.
Mark Leibler, national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, said Darville and Irving “do have one thing in common: their integrity and reliability — or should I say the lack of them.”