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  • Dani Nurick

JLens Removes Holocaust Denial Books Sold at Amazon and Target

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

As the Holocaust becomes further removed from global consciousness, and as direct witnesses to its atrocities pass, new generations of Neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers have the opportunity to sway future generations. According to a recent Pew survey, fewer than half of US adults know how many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. With antisemitism on the rise in the US and globally, it is more important than ever that retailers refrain from promoting materials that deny the Holocaust and incite hatred and antisemitism. While these materials falsify and minimize the genocide that occurred, they are published and promoted as factual accounts to consumers who may not have the information and education to understand the truth. Not only is Holocaust denier literature problematic and dangerous, in Germany and other European nations publishing pieces that incite racial hatred is a criminal offense. U.S. retailers making these books available online in European languages furthers Holocaust denial by creating access to books deemed illegal in Europe. Holocaust denial literature comes in various forms. Two examples of such works are those by Robert Faurisson and Paolo Orano. Faurisson published numerous books and articles denying the the fact that Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust. In 1990 Faurisson was the first person convicted of breaking a French law prohibiting the denial of crimes against humanity. Faurisson even received a prize for his antisemitic work from Iran’s Ahmadinejad. Paolo Orano, an Italian author, is described as “the intellectual premise for the racial laws directed by Mussolini’s government against its Jewish subjects in the course of 1938.” When CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) alerted JLens that Amazon and Target sold books by Faurisson and Orano, amongst others, on their websites in both English and European languages, we immediately took action and contacted our long-standing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) relationships. After multiple conversations with Amazon, the company has taken down all but three books. JLens continues to advocate with the company about the remaining books, as well as for developing stronger product guidelines. Target responded more swiftly and held a meeting with us, and promptly removed all of the content JLens and CAMERA brought to their attention. While Target has a policy outlining the types of material that cannot be sold (including content that promotes hate speech and racism), products are only vetted using automated filters. JLens urged the company to use human evaluators as well, similar to Etsy and Facebook. Following our discussion, Target is considering implementing a human evaluator strategy to ensure content fits with company values going forward. Though Target removed the specific books we brought to its attention, it is important that the company develops policies to ensure materials promoting hate speech are not sold on the site in the future. Literature denying the Holocaust is not the only problematic set of products that companies advertise to consumers. In the past, Zara sold a “Holocaust uniform” outfit, and Urban Outfitters sold a tapestry inspired by concentration camp clothing. JLens believes companies should be held accountable for their products and services and focuses on this area when discussing and evaluating a company’s commitment to religious coexistence. There are many different strategies companies might take to evaluate their products. Some companies, like Etsy, have a dedicated team of employees who remove problematic products as they are posted. Others seek the input of their employee groups. For example, the Jewish Employee Resource Group at Target assesses potential products related to Jewish holidays to ensure they are culturally appropriate. Similarly, Smuckers relies on its interfaith group to help ensure products are culturally relevant. Regardless of the method, companies need to devote resources to combatting antisemitism in their products and services, and Jewish investors can be a force that encourages them to get there.

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