The UK arm of Amazon removed three titles from sale because they deny the Holocaust, after requests from Yad Vashem and a UK Jewish group.
The Board of Deputies, the umbrella body of British Jews, had asked the bookseller to withdraw the books which it claimed were “highly inappropriate for a reputable bookseller to stock.”
The four titles were: “Holocaust: The Greatest Lie Ever Told,” by Eleanor Wittakers; “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry,” by Arthur R. Butz and “Did Six Million Really Die?” by Richard Harwood. This week, Amazon UK confirmed that these books had been withdrawn from sale.
The request and withdrawal follows an appeal last month from the head of Yad Vashem to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos urging the internet retail giant to remove books which deny the Holocaust. The request specifically mentioned the Harwood title.
“We strongly urge you to remove books that deny, distort and trivialize the Holocaust from your store,” Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem libraries, wrote in a letter to Bezos seen by AFP.
Yad Vashem said it was concerned that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial was growing across the globe.
“Holocaust denial literature is freely available for purchase over Amazon,” Rozett wrote. “Many of the items appear with glowing readers’ reviews and recommendations for further reading in the same vein.”
He added that while he was in favor of free speech, “Holocaust denial and other forms of hate speech indisputably nurture prejudice and hate crimes.”
Marie van der Zyl, vice president of the Board of Deputies, said she was happy the books had been withdrawn.
“At a time of record levels of antisemitism, it is very welcome that Amazon has listened and removed the offending titles from their website,” she said in a statement. “These are not works of historical integrity, they are an anti-Semitic attempt to exonerate the Nazis of their crimes and to stoke the fires of hatred.”
The books had previously been removed in countries where Holocaust denial is a crime. Although most countries within the European Union outlawed Holocaust denial in 2001, in the UK it is protected as free speech.
AFP contributed to this report.