On Mon­day, Deb­o­rah Lip­stadt wrote about eerie anniver­saries. She is the author of the new book The Eich­mann Tri­al.

I have spent much of the past few weeks talk­ing about my new book, The Eich­mann Tri­al. I don’t want to make this blog entry about the book. (To be blunt, I’d rather have folks read the book.) But some­thing has struck me in the talks and inter­views I have conducted.

For so many peo­ple the issue of the Eich­mann Tri­al remains Han­nah Arendt. They seem to have a hard time con­ceiv­ing of the Eich­mann tri­al inde­pen­dent of Arendt’s analy­sis.” I am speak­ing of who abhor what she said as well as of those who espouse her views.

I take a more mid­dle of the road” or bal­anced per­spec­tive. Let me be explic­it (for nuance, you’ll have to read the book. OK, I won’t repeat that again. Twice is cer­tain­ly enough. Though, please note, I wrote read, not buy). When I speak about Arendt I try to dis­cern where my audi­ence – whether it be one per­son or a mul­ti­tude — stands on the issue. I then try to stress the oth­er” side, i.e. if they hate – and that’s not too strong a term – her words I tell them the affir­ma­tive things she had to say about the tri­al and Israel. If they are enthralled with her views, I point out the glar­ing his­tor­i­cal mis­takes on which they are based.

Some­times that leads to trouble.

At a talk I gave at the Cen­ter for Jew­ish His­to­ry I assumed that many of the peo­ple in the audi­ence were famil­iar with all the neg­a­tives that had been said both by and about Arendt. They knew of her [c]overt anti­se­mit­ic – if not racist – com­ments about Israeli soci­ety and of her his­tor­i­cal­ly inac­cu­rate state­ments about the Juden­rate, the Jew­ish coun­cils estab­lished in the ghet­toes by the Nazis.

I, chose, there­fore to speak of some of the insights she had and pow­er­ful state­ments she made about the sig­nif­i­cance of the Holo­caust. I want­ed to make it clear to them that there are a lot of grays when it comes to Arendt. Sure enough, I received a num­ber of emails and com­ments accus­ing me of hav­ing gone soft on Arendt.”

Con­verse­ly, when I have spo­ken with those, whose view of the tri­al has been com­plete­ly refract­ed thor­ough Arendt, they hear me as crit­i­cal of her and have also react­ed vis­cer­al­ly. They defend her in a knee-jerk fash­ion and exco­ri­ate me for being crit­i­cal of her.

Wouldn’t it be refresh­ing if peo­ple set aside their pre­con­ceived con­clu­sions and read what I have to say about her? (Oops, there I go again. Clear­ly this is the place to end this blog entry.)

Deb­o­rah Lip­stadt will be blog­ging all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing. Her new book, The Eich­mann Tri­al, is avail­able now.

Deb­o­rah E. Lip­stadt is Dorot Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Jew­ish His­to­ry and Holo­caust Stud­ies at Emory Uni­ver­si­ty. Her books include The Eich­mann Tri­al, His­to­ry on Tri­al: My Day in Court with David Irv­ing (a Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award-win­ner), Deny­ing the Holo­caust: The Grow­ing Assault on Truth and Mem­o­ry, and Beyond Belief: The Amer­i­can Press and the Com­ing of the Holo­caust, 1933 – 1945. She lives in Atlanta.