Iran’s President Calls Holocaust A Myth
Last week Iran’s hard-line President questioned whether the Holocaust existed and offered the friendly suggestion that Israel might move to Europe. Now he denies it happened and suggests Israel move to Alaska.
This means he has taken his rhetoric to a new level, calling the holocaust — which ended in the usually horrific deaths of six million Jews plus millions of others in the view of historians, the public and all except some of these — a “myth.” And the question now becomes whether this is sheer, personal belief or also a calculated effort to move Iran to the forefront of anti-Israel forces — and whether the time is drawing closer to when Israel will feel compelled that some kind of preemptive action needs to be taken as Iran continues working on its nuclear program:
Ahmadinejad last week questioned whether the Nazi destruction of 6 million European Jews during World War II occurred and said Israel should be moved to Europe. He also provoked an international outcry in October when he called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
But Wednesday was the first time he publicly denied the Holocaust. Touring southeast Iran, Ahmadinejad said that if Europeans insist the Holocaust happened, then they are responsible and should pay the price.
“Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets,” Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in the southeastern city of Zahedan.
“If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?” Ahmadinejad asked rhetorically.
“This is our proposal: if you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country,” he said, developing a theme he raised in Saudi Arabia last week.
His comments drew immediate condemnation from Israeli, Germany, and other nations. Spiegel Online has a particularly interesting piece with a POINTED comment from Israel:
Once again, the international response was swift and unequivocal. “Shocking and totally unacceptable,” said Germany’s new foreign minister Franz-Walter Steinmeier. “Thank God Israel has the means to end the extremist regime in Iran,” said Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Dozens of other world leaders joined in the chorus of dismay.
Spiegel has an interview with an expert who notes that by raising fears that Mel Brooks may have to write a song “Springtime for Ahmadinejad and Iran” the Iranian President may have stepped over the line…even for bigwigs in his own country:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Dr. Ansari, this is the third time Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has spoken of either destroying or moving Israel. Is he serious?
Ansari: I think he’s serious. I think he thinks he’s serious. But his enemies, even in Iran, must be rubbing their hands.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Who are his comments on Israel and the Holocaust intended for?
Ansari: It will help him with a particular constituency in Iran. We have to remember there may be about 5 million people in Iran of that particular ilk, who want to hear the things he’s saying. Even among the people who believe him, though — here I’m talking about the conservative political management — he’s getting a little out of hand. While they may agree with him, they think he’s getting tactically out of hand.
But he is getting some rave reviews for his new comments which probably have decision makers in Israel going over their military option lists right now:
Teheran – The leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement, Khaled Meshaal, regards Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a hero. The Hamas chief argues that Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israeli rhetoric reflects what the Islamic world thinks but does not dare say.
‘All Moslems are proud of him and his courage,’ Meshaal said during a recent visit to Teheran.
….’The president sensed that during the Islamic summit in Saudi Arabia there was increased mumbling about acknowledgment of the Zionist regime but the anti-Israeli remarks by Ahmadinejad made them fade for the time being,’ Iranian Science Minister Mohammad- Mehdi Zahedi was quoted by the Sharq daily as saying.
Ahmadinejad regards the establishment of Israel in 1948 as a conspiracy against the Islamic world. He now wants to rally support for this conspiracy theory amongst Islamic nations.
‘The philosophy behind the establishment of the Jewish state is nothing but domination by the world arrogance over the Islamic world,’ the president recently said, warning: ‘The Islamic world should not underestimate this threat and should switch from a passive to an active approach.’
‘If the Arab world acknowledged Israel – and this will happen sooner or later – then another country like Iran should play the front-runner of the anti-Israeli block. This is what Ahmadinejad wants,’ said an Arab diplomat in Teheran.
But, otherwise, his comments don’t seem to have been the kind that will appear in an updated edition of How To Win Friends And Influence People — particularly in Europe:
The EU, meanwhile, said the Iranian presidentâ€™s comments have no place in civilized political debate. “My reaction to what the president of Iran has again said is that these remarks are just quite simply completely unacceptable,” European Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin said in Brussels. “And we feel very strongly that Iran is damaging its own interests with these kind of remarks and that such interventions do nothing to rebuild confidence in Iranâ€™s intentions.”
Iran is locked in tense negotiations with Germany, France, and Great Britain, the EU-3, over its nuclear program. The West suspects Iran seeks nuclear weapons. Iran denies this.
German Foreign Minister Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned today that the Iranian leaderâ€™s comments put fresh strains on the nuclear talks, which are due to resume this month.
In Washington, the Bush administration’s initial reaction was diplomatic:
Whitehouse spokesman Scott McClellan said: ‘I think all responsible leaders in the international community recognize how outrageous such comments are.’
McClellan also said: ‘We have a number of concerns about the regime in Iran, and one of the concerns at the top of the list is their interest in pursuing nuclear weapons.’
‘His comments and statements only underscore why it is so important that the international community continue to work together to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons,’ he added.
What can we make of this?
- It’s clear that Ahmadinejad like any politician is playing to domestic constituencies.
- It’s clear that unlike all other politicians he is trying to put his country at the forefront of anti-Israel and (by raising the Holocaust the way he has) even anti-semitic forces. (We are certain we will get some comments on that assertion but a rose is a rose is a rose and a racist is a racist is a racist).
- Washington has raised the red flag about Iran’s nuclear program, Russian President Vladmir Putin has supported it, the EU has a times given somewhat mixed signals but seemed wary. All of this now raises the stakes since if there is even a remote possibility of nuclear weapons by his comments Ahmadinejad is showing he’s unwilling to make any concessions to defusing international tensions. If anything, he is declaring himself a force to accentuate them publicly.
- It’s going to put Israel’s decision makers and leaders in a bind. Since the death of Hitler and the Nazi regime, the ongoing slogan has been “never again.” Now they’re facing someone who won’t even do lip service to acknowledging the Nazi regime’s brutality, won’t accept history’s documentation on what the Nazis did, and wants them to move to Alaska. Can it adjust to this as a new reality — or will it seek to change it.
Ahmadinejad, whether for domestic or international imagery reasons, has essentially thrown down the gauntlet to Washington, the EU and Israel. If there isn’t some form of military or covert action, look for efforts to isolate the Iranian regime. Bigtime.
UPDATE: Be sure to read this post.