Manhattan, NY – E-Mail About Book Questioning the Holocaust Shakes UES School

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    Parents of P.S. 290 students received an image of this book in a group e-mailManhattan, NY – The e-mail list of the Public School 290 PTA is a useful source on matters like fund-raising, after-school programs and the rules for the talent show coming up. It is not known to provoke strong feelings.

    But the message that went out at the wee time of 2:18 a.m. on Jan. 16 disturbed many of the parents who bothered to read it. “You should read this book! It is rocking my world!” read the message, floating over a book’s cover. The cover had a dark Star of David at the bottom, the Nazi flag at top and the title in between: “Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides.”

    The sender, Michael Santomauro, whose son is in third grade at P.S. 290, on the Upper East Side, said Tuesday that it was not until minutes later, when two parents replied with complaints, that he realized his mistake. He meant to send the message to another group he belongs to, where members debate whether accounts of the Holocaust are exaggerated, and he apologized to the parents for the “total confusion.”

    Still, the damage was done, and school officials and parents, many of whom are Jewish, were stunned not only by the e-mail, but also that there was such a parent in their midst.

    The principal, Sharon Hill, called Mr. Santomauro to ask if his e-mail account might have been hijacked, or a virus had taken control of his computer, and he told her what had taken place.

    In the past, protesters have chanted “evict the Nazi” in front of his apartment building on the Upper West Side. This time, Mr. Santomauro said, he has received threatening phone calls, and he has filed a police report.

    He said he did not deny the Holocaust, but merely wanted 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.”

    Read more details in the New York Times

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    14 COMMENTS

    1. No, he really loves Jews. Really.

      Maybe these Jewish parents in the school will start to understand why their kids belong in Jewish schools. Perhaps that’s what is needed in NY: more day schools, so the choice between Yeshiva & PS isn’t so wide.

      • Sadly that’s not true.
        Many other genocides are debated either by the people accused of perpetrating them or their allies, or other sympathizers.

        In the past century alone there is much debate regarding the extent, the severity and even the accuracy of the Kurdish Genocide and of the Armenian Holocaust (which is actually the first modern use of the word Holocaust to describe a racially-motivated genocide) both of which are estimated to have killed millions.

        Not to belittle, at all, the evil and misguided malice of those who deny the WWII Holocaust – but unfortunately in our world there are many groups who deny many historical tragedies if their existence and report causes discomfort.

        • To the best of my knowledge (which might not say much), the debate over the Armenian genocide is not whether or not it had taken place, but rather who was responsible for it — the Turkish government? Some rogue army battalion?

          • No, the Turks have always denied ad still do that any genocide took place at all. Still causes diplomatic problems for the USA, Israel and others when dealing with the Turkish government.

    2. As the same time as Yad Vashem and Google are making hundreds of thousands of documents available online, other people are debating the Holocaust. Ther are hundreds of hours of films taken by Americans, Russians, Germans, and other people are debating the Holocaust. There are hundreds of thousands of eye witnesses including many soldiers frrom many countries, and other people are debating the Holocaust. I find the hatred for our people so great that I am at a loss for words. I am numb and upset. I thinkI’ll go and say some Tehillim. I usually find some comfort there.

    3. It’s hard to believe that Mr. Santomauro is so nonchalant about the whole thing. It doesn’t seem he’s trying to encourage debate, rather it seems he is intent on provoking people’s ire. His viewpoint is disgusting. I feel sorry for his son, who will surely be negatively impacted by this.

    4. Why is it possible to debate whether Kennedy was assasinated by Oswald, whether 9/11 happened the way we have been told, whether Lincoln violated the constitution in the Civil War, whether Roosevelt knew in advance about a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, whether there is an obligation to pay an income tax, and for many WHETHER G-D EXISTS, without the slightest boo, but on THIS subject, it is forbidden??

      • The people that want to debate the Holocaust are not interested in the truth. They’re all anti-semite’s with an agenda. Find me one academic who wants to debate the subject who is not anti-semetic. You won’t be able to.

      • What if I told you that the attack on 9/11 was just your imagination, and it was no different than the WTC bomb of ’93? You Sir/Ma’am are an insult the the memories of the millions that perished in the holocaust, and should be ashamed of yourself.

    5. isn’t there supposed to be a separation between church and state? that’s why religious events are not supposed to be taught in public schools. this individual is using taxpayers money to disseminate his views on “public” property, although he ‘claims’ this email went out by mistake and was supposed to go to the ‘other’ email list he belongs to. i would think that there needs to be a cultural competency in different venues so we understand what would be considered offensive and what not. how does someone justify emailing such divisive material, at 2:30 in the a.m., no less.

    6. A Fellow MNS Parent Says in MY Defense:

      Let me see if I understand what reporter Fernanda Santos wrote in today’s Times (E-Mail About Book Questioning the Holocaust Shakes School). It seems that web journalist and book editor, Michael Santomauro, inadvertently sent an E-mail to all the names on the PTA mailing list of his son’s school, P.S. 290, asking them that they read a book that he publishes entitled ”Debating the Holocaust”. Although Mr. Santomauro apologized for his mistake, Ms. Santos tells readers that, ”Still the damage was done ”. What damage are we talking about…how can anyone be damaged by being asked to read a book? Ms. Santos then tells us that the school’s principal was in the process of contacting the ADL in order to ” seek further clarity ”. Clarity about what?

      Ms. Santos goes on to say that the ADL regional director, Ron Meir described Mr. Santomauro using a term borrowed from the porn industry, as ” a hard core Holocaust denier ”. To her credit Ms. Santos does tell us that Mr. Santomauro insists that he does not deny the holocaust but merely wants to encourage debate on the subject.

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