Jews ask N.Z. to bar controversial historian Irving

Jewish organizations in New Zealand have demanded that New Zealand bar the entry of controversial historian David Irving, but immigration officials may give a green light to the planned September visit by the accused Holocaust denier, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

Irving is scheduled to speak at the National Press Club in Wellington during the two-week visit.

He has been denounced by a British court as pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic and a Holocaust denier, angering Jews by labeleing the Holocaust “a legend.”

The furor over the visit comes amid a trial for two Israelis accused of espionage and a recent incident in which Jewish graves were desecrated

Immigration Service spokeswoman Kathryn O’Sullivan told the New Zealand Herald last week that inquiries were being made internationally about Irving and a final decision on whether he came here would be made “in the next few weeks.”

“He is a person who has been prohibited from entering or been deported from other countries and we have a right to be concerned about that,” she said.

Irving is barred from entering Australia. He has said that there were no “legal reasons” he could not come to New Zealand.

National Press Club President Peter Isaac said last week that a meeting of the 600-member club would be held to “review the matter” of Irving’s planned address. He declined to state whether he felt Irving should appear.

“The National Press Club cannot deny a platform to somebody because they are controversial and because a large number of the population may believe that they are lying and/or deluded,” he said.

Irving had suggested as the subject of his remarks “The problems of writing about World War II in a free society.”

The Herald said that if Irving travelled on a British passport, he would not necessarily need a visa to enter New Zealand under a “visa waiver” agreement between the two countries. But the Immigration Service is likely to require him to apply for a visa and could then refuse to issue one.

The 66-year-old British historian has visited New Zealand twice before, in 1986 and 1987, the Herald noted.

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