June 9, 2008
Holocaust site reaches global readers
By Elaine Justice
Deborah Lipstadt’s Holocaust Denial on Trial Web site,
HDOT.org, may be mostly in English, but it’s already being visited by people from more than 100 countries, says Dan Leshem, Web development specialist at Emory, which hosts the site.
Earlier this spring HDOT.org received a $120,000 grant from the New York-based Claims Conference, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, that is being used to create parallel sites in Turkish, Russian, Arabic and Farsi. Launch of the foreign language versions of the site is expected this fall.
The grant is allowing HDOT.org to complete 50 myth/fact sheets about the Holocaust in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Russian.
Although the Arabic and Persian myth/fact sheets have not yet been launched to the public, the site is already gaining attention in Arab countries, says Leshem, who manages the HDOT project at Emory. The site has almost complete translations of 22 Holocaust denial myth/fact sheets in Arabic and Farsi that visitors are finding online now.
In a one-month period
(April 14–May 14), the site had 200 Arabic visitors and 200 Farsi visitors. Iran was the fifth most popular country of origin, with 224 visits during the period. Leshem says he will watch
the traffic closely as the site’s home page and major elements are translated.
Holocaust Denial on Trial chronicles Lipstadt’s 1996-2000 British trial versus British Holocaust denier David Irving. In 1996 he sued Lipstadt in British court alleging libelous content in her book “Denying the Holocaust.”
Following her resounding victory in 2000, Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, founded the site in conjunction with Emory to provide complete archives of the trial’s documents. The site strives to empower readers to identify and reject the lies, distortions and misleading innuendo used by Holocaust deniers who continue to spread disinformation on the Holocaust.
Lipstadt began HDOT.org precisely in order to make such distortions a thing of the past. “When people don’t have historically accurate information they are susceptible to all sorts of distortions and fabrications,” she says. “This is true for the
Arab-speaking world and the English speaking world as well.”
HDOT also will introduce two educational modules on the topic of Auschwitz denial for use in advanced secondary school and undergraduate college courses.
“The weight of this site is its integrity,” says David Lower, a business analyst at Emory who oversees the site’s development. “We have to hold these translations to the highest possible standards. We know that deniers will look for any errors on the site to exploit for their own purposes.”
One example of precision in translation was the word “Holocaust” itself, says Leshem. “We transliterated the word and got 10,000 hits.” Then, based on a recommendation by a scholar of Arabic, they used another term for holocaust in Arabic that is much more common — it translates loosely as ‘the catastrophe of the Jews’ — and got 150,000 hits, simply because it is the more common term. “That goes back to the translators knowing the content,” Leshem says.
So far, that diligence seems to be working. After posting the first translations of the myth/fact sheets in Arabic, Leshem copied the name “Anne Frank” in Arabic and did a Google search. HDOT.org was listed at number three.