Renowned Holocaust Historian to Keynote Graduation Ceremonies

Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76
Osnat Perelshtein
Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76

Leading Holocaust historian Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, will deliver Brandeis’ 68th Commencement address and receive an honorary degree on Sunday, May 19. The Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, Lipstadt writes powerfully on the Holocaust and contemporary Jewish life.

“At a time when facts are under attack as never before, we know that Deborah’s words will inspire the Class of 2019 to put the critical-thinking skills and relentless penchant for questioning they developed as Brandeis students to work in the wider world,” said President Ron Liebowitz in announcing this year’s honorary degree recipients.

The six other honorees are Rivka Carmi, medical geneticist and former president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; writer and visionary Jon Landau ’68, who has served as Bruce Springsteen’s manager for four decades; award-winning Chinese science-fiction novelist Cixin Liu; philanthropist and Brandeis Board of Trustees member Barbara Mandel, P’73; financier and former Brandeis Board of Trustees chair Perry Traquina ’78; and Susan Windham-Bannister, Heller PhD’77, innovation executive, and the former president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

“Our honorary degree recipients have all distinguished themselves through their lifetimes of groundbreaking achievements,” Liebowitz said in his announcement. “Their accomplishments stretch across the academy, the arts and sciences, and the business world, providing sources of inspiration for all our degree recipients.”

Liebowitz calls Lipstadt “one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Holocaust, who has fearlessly defended her research in the face of fierce challenges by deniers.”

In her 2005 book “History on Trial,” Lipstadt chronicled the London courtroom battle that erupted when English author David Irving filed a libel suit against her in the United Kingdom for having called him a Holocaust denier. After a 10-week trial, Irving lost his case, and the proceedings exposed the true depth of his association with neo-Nazi groups. “History on Trial” became the basis for the critically acclaimed 2016 feature film “Denial,” starring Rachel Weisz.

Lipstadt’s recent work, particularly her book “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” published this year, continues to warn the world about the ever-present danger of antisemitic hatred and violence. She founded the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory, serving as its first director from 1998-2008, and directs the Holocaust Denial on Trial website, which contains transcripts and other materials from the Irving trial as well as scholarly materials that offer answers to frequent claims made by deniers.

Lipstadt was a historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and helped design the section of the museum focused on the American response to the Holocaust.