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Parent Recommends Holocaust-Denying Book To His PTA

Parent Recommends Holocaust-Denying Book To His PTA

As the New York Times pointed out, PTA listservs are not known to provoke heated moral controversies.  But a message sent to the email list of New York Public School 290, a sought-after school on the Upper East Side, has created a serious stir among its recipients.  Michael Santomauro, the parent of a 3rd-grader at P.S. 290, sent an image of the cover of Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides, with the message “You should read this book! It is rocking my world!”

Santomauro realized his mistake a few moments later, when several parents wrote outraged messages back.  He said that he had meant to send it to another listserv, and apologized for the “total confusion.”  Two parents have already contacted the Anti-Defamation League, although the school has not.  The regional director explained that Santomauro was a “hard-core Holocaust denier.”

The message was shocking not just because of the content but because many parents did not realize that Santomauro, the editorial director of a press which publishes authors whose works question the Holocaust, but who live in countries where doing so is a crime.  Santomauro’s house has been protested in the past, and he says that he has recently received threatening phone calls.

Santomauro says that he is not a Holocaust-denier, but that he is merely trying to encourage debate.  “There’s not hate coming from me,” he said. “There’s no reason if you question aspects of what may or may not happen or what murder weapon was used during the Holocaust that you should be called an anti-Semite.”

One thing is clear: the book that Santomauro inadvertently advertised to his child’s classmates’ parents gives serious credence to the idea that the Holocaust might be a massive hoax.  In the introduction to the book, which is available online, the author writes, “We vist Holocaust museums.  We take college courses from endowed chairs in Holocaust stores.  This is not by accident.  It is a deliberate plan, to make sure that we ‘never forget.’  And if we can never forget, we should at least get the story straight.”  It seems unlikely, reading this, that Santomauro is trying to start a debate instead of proposing the highly offensive view that one of the worst genocides in history was a political invention.

Whether this should result in better policing of the PTA listserv is another question.  One parent responded pragmatically, saying that she “came to the conclusion that this guy is a moron.”  She added, “I am sure that that parent won’t make that mistake again.”

And she’s probably right.  However offensive Santomauro’s views are, the most the school can do is what it did, which is to say that they do not endorse anything he says.  Santomauro can apologize again (and he probably means it, given that he’s getting in an undesired media firestorm as a result – although having a spotlight on his odious activities is probably a good thing), but short of creating new rules about how the PTA listserv is used, the consequences for Santomauro may not be severe.  At least they can be sure that Santomauro won’t be sending out any of his anti-Semitic publications to their list in the future.

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180 comments

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2:54PM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

I have always wondered if those who deny the Holocaust; do so only because of their antisemitism. I think they really know that it happened. But they would never accept any evidence at all, & to say that the evidence is overwhelming; doesn't begin to cover it. Because we instinctively react to their claims; it gives them the attention they crave in order to spread their messages of hate.That will never change. Lord have mercy on anyone denying the Holocaust around me.

5:50AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Well for my Uncle who stood outside the ovens there is not debate.. and he took pictures. And stood in the camps.. not years later..not months later but shortly after they were liberated. He saw mass graves, and dead starved bodies. No one can tell him it did not happen.

4:34AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

I lost family and, growing up in a large Jewish community where we knew most member of the congregation, knowing about the Holocaust was part of our upbringing. I did not need to question anything about it as a few of the parents of my friend had tattoos and would tell us of their lives and losses. My Israeli family could also tell me what happened and why they were lucky to reach Israel. I also grew up with extreme anti-Semitism but none of the racists questioned the Holocaust.

Today I watch the range of anti-Semitism growing, Holocaust denial, however it is put including the "discussion of both sides", is nothing more than that. Anyone who doesn't believe should travel to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and see for themselves. I have been there and it is the most heart wrenching experience, no-one came out without tears, Jews and non-Jews alike.

Because of this we need to speak out and prevent genocide in many countries and not just invade because there is oil. Far too many African countries or Eastern European countries have suffered and no-one does anything. It can also mean tribes within a country such as denying water to Bushmen or building a dam on a South American tribal ground. Speak out against another Holocaust.

4:16AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Mr. Rizoli, My father helped to liberate a concentration camp. Since he spoke Hungarian he helped to translate for the few Hungarians who survived there. I believed my dad when he said they existed. He was there. He was one among many witnesses. Sorry you can't seem to believe them.

I do believe in God. my God is not yours, nor is my Goddess.

8:12AM PDT on May 3, 2011

To quote my daughter's response to her teacher teaching the holocaust with a they say attitude--- " Okay, so if it didn't happen where are my aunts, uncles, cousins, and great grandparents?"
Eleven million people disappeared - 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews- where did they go????
The over whelming evidence is that they were murdered by the Nazis in Europe.

4:00PM PST on Feb 12, 2011

Continued.
And Rizoli, I haven't seen any footage or any other evidence as to prove the existance of any diety which for me constitutes it's not a proof of existance but a philosophical or religous nelief we are discussing in those cases.

But when it is fact based, as is the case of the Holocaust, the massmurders of Native Americans, the ethnical cleansings in former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, natives being murdered in other countries by conqeuring Europeans and the state sanction murders in Cambodia, there's no question about that they have actually happened. Or are you also denying any of the other above mentioned historical facts?

3:59PM PST on Feb 12, 2011

There are actual footage made by the nazis taken in the concentration camps aswell as in the death camps. There are footage taken by the allies after they liberated the camps. There are numerous witness statements made by those that survived. There are lists and archives and other documentation made by the nazis that include the amount of people tat entered the camps, how many was killed each day and how much and what was taken from the people that were sent to the camps.
How in **** can anyone deny or questioning that this actually happened?
I have personally met camp survivors and heard their testimony of what they endured and I get furious hearing that some lowlifes actually thinks these atrocoties never took place!

I'm also appalled that these Holocaust deniers are free to express these lies in the US. Many European countries have laws against these deniers so they hide behind the US Constitution to spew their lies.

2:35AM PST on Feb 11, 2011

Thank you for posting.

6:43PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted
( a little Kipling for you)

When Earth's last picture is painted,
And the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded,
and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an eon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen
Shall set us to work anew.

6:41PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Perhaps we could end any further debate by conceding WWII was a ruse for an illegal human hide industry. At a Holocaust Exhibit, I saw in the Eighties there were, in a separate viewing area with warning signs, sections of tanned human skin exhibiting tattoos, both wall hangings a skin fitted for a lampshade. The pictures were too much for most viewers, the items leaving indelible images I willo not forget.

I was with a relative ancient enough to have been there at the end who SAW reality in Germany. We met others vets who know of or saw the same. One of them told me he came to the exhibit because, after all these years, he was hoping his mind had played tricks on him and it wasn’t real. Another told me we wanted to see his grand kids reaction to the harsher realities of “history”.

A Romanian Lady identified some of the tattoos as those identifying a clan or tribe. She described how here family faired, not just in the camps, but in also avoiding them. Horrific. But, then again, I suppose she must have stood to gain somehow for relating here families story.

Time is on the side of the steeple fingered pseudo academic revisionists. Where is it written, “Lest we Forget”? What is 70 years in the grand scheme of time? I suppose I can trust the Paleontological millennia and the fossil records better than the living memories of witnesses. I guess I should not trust my own memories of yesterday if this is debatable.

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