Holocaust Deniers in Iran and West Joined Forces for 'Denial' Conference

Amiram Barkat
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Amiram Barkat

Holocaust-deniers from the West play a key role in attempts by Iran to cast doubts on the veracity of the Holocaust, according to documents that have appeared on an Internet site.

The documents reveal Iranians have consulted with well-known Holocaust-deniers from Western countries as part of the Iranian initiative to hold a conference about the Holocaust.

The documents were published on an Internet site involved in Holocaust denial and reached scholars at the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism at Tel Aviv University.

On January 15, the Iranian News Agency announced it was going to convene a "scientific conference" on the Holocaust. A month before, French Holocaust-denier Prof. Robert Faurisson received a request regarding the conference from Dr. Jawad Sharbaf, head of the Neda Institute of Political Sciences, Tehran.

In the letter, which opens by expressing regret over the United Nations resolution to establish an international Holocaust Day, Sharbaf writes that the recent statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the Holocaust had created the right conditions to raise the subject in Iran. "Our assumption for the time being is that the president will undoubtedly do his best if you make contact and request assistance for organizing an international conference," Sharbaf wrote.

In his response, Faurisson wrote that the scientific conference was impractical, mainly because many of his colleagues are "either in prison, in exile or in a precarious situation that forbids them from crossing national borders."

Faurisson added that "in accord with an idea put forth by Prof. Arthur Robert Butz [a Holocaust-denier from Northwestern University in the U.S.], I shall say we hope to see President Ahmadinejad create in Iran an international centre for revisionist studies."

Faurisson praised Ahmadinejad and added a request "that Iran make repeated appeals to the Western world for the freeing of our prisoners of conscience," referring to his colleagues convicted of denying the Holocaust.

Much in demand

Faurisson, 76, is considered the most prominent Holocaust-denier in Europe and is very much in demand by the Iranian media. Last November he gave an interview to an English-language Iranian newspaper, the Tehran Times, where he was quoted as saying that the more the West believes in the Holocaust, the more Muslims will be killed in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the head of the Roth Institute, Prof. Dina Porat, in recent years solidarity between Holocaust-deniers and extremist Muslims has increased. "Since the law has begun to be enforced regarding Holocaust-deniers, they often speak of the 'common fate of the persecuted,' which they feel they share with radical Muslims," Porat said.

Prof. David Menashri, head of Tel Aviv University's Center for Iranian Studies, said Holocaust-deniers had in recent years begun to feel at home with the heads of the Iranian regime. Menashri said this was especially true with regard to Roger Garoudi, who was invited to Iran in 1998, shortly after he was convicted of denying the Holocaust by a French court. Ahmadinejad represents the new generation of Iranians who have been educated on the theory of Holocaust denial, Menashri said.

Kenneth Jacobson, assistant national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said adopting the theories of Holocaust denial of Western scholars is a relatively new phenomenon in the Muslim world. The accepted attitude had been to say that whereas it was true the Holocaust had taken place, the Palestinians should not have to pay the price. A look at Ahmadinejad's statements shows he has mixed the two approaches, Jacobson added.

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