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For Holocaust Denier, There's No Telling

Thursday, April 7, 2005; Page VA02

The mysterious e-vite sent to a few privileged conservatives invited the faithful to a "private dinner meeting" in Arlington last Thursday with "best-selling British historian" David Irving.

"When you RSVP, you will be given directions to an Arlington, Virginia restaurant (walking distance from the Court House Metro Stop) and three meal choices," the e-vite read.

Perhaps such security and secrecy are understandable. Irving, the author of works on Hitler and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, is a well-known Holocaust denier who has claimed that Jews were not killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz. (He once famously said, "More women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.")

Reston resident Peter Gemma, the event's organizer, said the dinner drew 95 attendees of a World War II study group he runs. Gemma is a former Arlington Republican activist who is now affiliated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, which has been described as a white supremacist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Irving, Gemma said, "has caused waves in the establishment by uncovering documents and evidence some historians don't like to admit."

Irving lost a highly publicized libel case in 2000 when a British judge ruled that he had "deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence" when he wrote that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust.

Gemma declined to name the restaurant where Irving spoke.

"I'd rather not give the location," Gemma said. "There's always somebody out there who wants to make trouble."

Feet-First Into Fitness

Flush with pride after being named the "Best U.S. Walking City" by the American Podiatric Medical Association, Arlington County officials now fancy themselves experts on Virginia's growing obesity rate.

In a news release sent out last week, Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette (D) said he would be available to discuss how Arlington, as a haven for walkers, is "already dealing with Virginians' growing waistlines."

How, you ask?

In January, Fisette announced a plan to improve county residents' health by promoting walking and biking and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Perhaps the "Mind Readers of America" should also be presenting Arlington with an award. Fisette's to-do list preceded the release of federal statistics that showed the percentage of obese Virginians is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the nation.

You might be wondering whether any of those would-be dieters live in Arlington. Officials with the Virginia Department of Health say they aren't yet able to break down the numbers by locality.

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