The curtain has dropped on the Theater of the Absurd directed by the Iranian regime last week - an event that convened figures from the margins of the Holocaust-denial scene and its "alternative" researchers. In Israel the conference was covered with an emphasis on the statements by the participants and the reactions of Israeli politicians. True, this was an international conference behind which was a country that declares its desire to bring about the fall of the "Zionist regime" - but beyond that hides a deeper factor, which is indicative of the connection between contemporary Israeli identity and the Holocaust.
"If the occurrence of the event (the Holocaust) is cast into doubt, the identity of the Zionist regime will also be cast into doubt." From these words, spoken at the opening session by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, it emerges that the Iranian regime has correctly identified the connections that exist in Israel between the Holocaust and local politics. One of the formative historical events of the West today, whose significance is relevant to all of humanity, the Holocaust is continuing more than 60 years later to provide Israel with an alibi for the deviancy of its political choices.
An Israel with no real distinction between the establishment political left and the right with all its offshoots, continues to make use of the Holocaust in a way that combines cynicism and boorishness. Even though there is indeed a considerable and complex connection between the Holocaust and Israeli political culture, there isn't - nor has there ever been - any justification for harnessing its memory for the sake of preserving the continuing occupation project that Israel has been conducting for 40 years now in the territories.
Israel's attitude toward the Holocaust is not really derived from the way in which the leadership is responding to the incendiary declarations of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his propagandists, which above all testify to the speakers themselves. It is possible to learn about this attitude from, among other things, the way in which it relates to the tens of thousands of survivors in whose flesh and minds the Nazis' crimes are etched, who live here in disgraceful conditions and below the poverty line.
However, the real treatment of the survivors is apparently a lot less glamorous than the cult of the worship surrounding those who were murdered, which provides a stage for every politician who is seeking his way to the center of the consensus. Thus, as was recently published again in Haaretz, the state is continuing to nationalize the reparations monies that are transferred to it for the benefit of those hundreds of thousands of survivors - while criminally neglecting many of them.
The primitive instrumentalist use that Iranian politics is making of the Holocaust is nothing but a mirror image of the way the memory of the Holocaust is exploited in political life in Israel. One of the aims of the Iranian campaign to "research the historical truth" surrounding the Holocaust is to unravel the system of justifications that Israeli politics has been accustomed to using in its all-too-frequent definition of the criticism of those politics, expressed both domestically and abroad as being tainted with anti-Semitism. Thus the role of the Holocaust as the sole justification for the existence of Israel has been sharpened, instead of focusing on the fact that today more than 7 million people of varied origins and nationalities are living in this country - a place which in most cases is their only possible home.
If indeed the Iranian foreign minister is correct and this is the sole source of legitimacy from which the Zionist project derives today, then apparently the time has indeed come for a radical revision of the concept of Zionism. And it would be a good thing if this is done before Ahmadinejad and his ultra-Orthodox partners from Brooklyn launch a new production.
The author coordinates the settlement follow-up in the Peace Now movement.
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