Roger Garaudy, one of the most controversial French philosophers of the twentieth century, died on Friday at the age of 98.
While Garaudy embraced a perplexing variety of ideologies during his near-century-long existence, he will most likely be remembered for his avid denial of the Holocaust, a position that endeared him to much of the Islamic world.
Garaudy was fined 120,000 francs (18,000 dollars) by a Paris court in 1998 for his anti-Zionist work "The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics," which claimed that the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis was a “myth” invented by the Western allies as a pretext to occupy Germany. The book espoused ideas based on Garaudy’s views that Jews exert excessive influence on U.S. foreign policy.
He states, “Judaism is not called into question, only Israel politics,” attempting to draw a distinction between anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment.
Garaudy, who converted to Protestantism, Catholicism and finally Islam, joined the French resistance and was held in Algeria as a prisoner of war of France's collaborationist Vichy regime.
Claiming to have symbolized the “dialogue of civilizations,” he stated, “My greatest pride is to have remained faithful to my dream as a 20 year old, the unity of the three religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”
Garaudy joined the French Communist Party after the war, was elected to the French parliament and became a member of the Senate.
He was expelled from the Communist Party in 1970 after he criticized the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, although he had defended the Soviet intervention in Hungary 12 years earlier.
Head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, Richard Prasquier, asserted, "He ended up pitifully on an intellectual level, with the lowest kind of revisionism."
"Historians will one day look at his ideological drifting that turned him one of the best-known revisionists," Prasquier added.