SYDNEY, Australia, April 18 (JTA) — A case of Holocaust denial has heated up in New Zealand.
Jewish leaders in New Zealand are calling on Canterbury University to withdraw a 1993 master’s thesis that questioned whether Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust.
The author of the thesis, Joel Hayward, recently sent a letter to the New Zealand Jewish Chronicle saying that his thesis’ “conclusions are wrong” and that he now believes the Nazis did, indeed, kill 6 million Jews.
Hayward, who is now a senior lecturer in history at Massey University, received his masters degree from the University of Canterbury in 1993 on the topic of Holocaust revisionism.
Hayward’s thesis shared many of the conclusions of David Irving, who was labeled a Holocaust denier by a British judge after he lost the libel suit he had filed against American scholar Deborah Lipstadt.
The president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, David Zwartz, said he applauds Hayward’s recent letter, but added that “the University’s reputation for scholarship is in question as long as it stands by this thesis, which has been repudiated even by its own author.”
The official position of Canterbury University is that Hayward wrote an addendum to his work that “sets out the perspectives he now has on this sensitive issue and the validity of the references he used in the thesis.”
But Professor Dov Bing, of the department of political science and public policy at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, said the addendum is misleading and does not go as far as the outright apology in Hayward’s letter to the Jewish Chronicle.
“I believe the addendum should be removed and replaced with a clear and precise statement from Dr. Hayward,” Bing said.
Australian Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben recently submitted Hayward’s thesis in his defense against a complaint filed under the country’s racial hatred laws. The complaint, filed by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, alleges that Holocaust denial has no academic acceptance.
Hayward subsequently wrote to the commissioner hearing the complaint, saying that Toben is an anti- Semite. Hayward added that he opposes Holocaust denial.