In reporting on what it describes as a “pro-Holocaust” documentary being shown on Turkish television, Press TV gave us a trademark example of the gymnastics the Iranian government takes with regards to the existence of the Holocaust since Ahmadinejad made his now infamous remarks six years ago.
In a retrospectively amusing interview with journalist Mike Wallace back in 1976, the last Shah of Iran expressed some qualms over the Jewish lobby in the United States. He stated among other things it was too powerful for the interests of Israel as it pushed around and directly influenced too many people’s decisions regarding certain issues. He was clearly referring to American Israeli lobby groups such as AIPAC when he pronounced these qualms.
Some 30 years later, the president of Iran would cause international controversy, condemnation, a media storm and widespread distress when he referred to the Holocaust as a mere myth; a fabricated legend created by the Zionists. Ahmadinejad’s provocative pronouncements were downright hurtful to the Jewish people, as they directly undermined and cheapened an incident in history that is a major part of the collective Jewish psyche by denying it ever even happened and that the pain and suffering several of the survivors endured; the horror and memories of watching their families and friends perish or be brutally, systemically and callously murdered, as ocurred in the death camps in Poland, was simply a myth they bought into and that it didn’t really happen to them. This is how they inflame and hurt people, by flat out telling them that the horrors which they had experienced and endured first hand had never even happened.
Personally I don’t feel the need, nor do I have any desire, to have to silence Holocaust deniers, or deny them a right to voice their opinions, misunderstandings or skepticism with minor details they may not understand. To do so gives these fanatics their own free speech “martyrs” and further convinces them that their outlandish claims have therefore been given credence. While their pronouncements are certainly hurtful to the Jewish people, and are usually leavened with anti-Semitic innuendos, they are for the most part self-discrediting; those who preach them shouldn’t be jailed for voicing such opinions, but should instead be shunned and shamed from all normal realms of society. Those who may be genuinely skeptical about the transpiration of the Final Solution and the widespread systemic destruction of European Jewry should be allowed to voice such skepticism and to have it addressed. Is that what Ahmadinejad is doing, as he has hinted towards on more than one occasion?
Shortly after he proclaimed the Holocaust to be a myth, Hamas’s political leader, Khaled Mashaal, stated Ahmadinejad’s pronouncements were “courageous.” It wasn’t in the least bit surprising that Hamas would endorse his statements, when you take into account that they also disseminate the century-old proven fabrication, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (sometimes described as Hitler’s warrant for genocide, among other things), as literal truth. Hamas was also founded on a charter which possesses a rather nasty core of anti-Semitism and racism. Having such bedfellows does not give much credence to Ahmadinejad’s claim of being merely skeptical with regards to the Holocaust.
When the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust (a pretentiously named conference to say the least) was convened in Tehran in 2006, it not only upset the 25,000-or-so-strong Jewish community in Iran, but also proved to be nothing more than a conglomeration of pseudo-intellectuals, including, among others, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who convened in such a manner as to conceal their anti-Semitic nature, using the guise of an academic discussion in which to do so.
Since then, Ahmadinejad has stated that his Holocaust skepticism comes as a result of his quarrel with the Zionists who, of course, aren’t exclusively Jewish. His statement is puzzling, considering that as a result of the Holocaust, the early pre-Israeli-statehood history of the origins of Zionism has been widely forgotten by the thousands who survived the horrors of a Nazi-dominated Europe and fought the British presence in Palestine to achieve statehood. For those survivors, the Holocaust was the deciding factor and driving force for the need for a Jewish state. It is clear that Ahmadinejad’s motive is to deny, and thus deprive, the Jewish masses of their motive in their fight for statehood in the wake of their near extermination. His monomaniacal focus on, and obsession about, the Jewish question is probably the most creepy aspect of Ahmadinejad’s politics and character to me, and his attempts to downplay this obsession by stating that it comes out of his concern for the treatment of Palestinians strikes me as obtuse.
To deny such a highly significant event in history is to deny that it had such a chillingly profound impact on a wide range of people; it is to deny the mere existence and heroism of such people. It is to deny the brave Iranian statesman Abdol Hossein Sardari, who helped many French Jews escape the clutch of the Nazis by issuing them Iranian passports. Sardari has come to be known as the “Schindler of Iran.” And even in light of Ahmadinejad’s statements and his kooky conference, Sardari’s story has been dramatized in an Iranian TV show, Zero Degree Turn.
I think this is a great tribute to the heroism and memory of Sardari and those like him who found themselves in a position to do something to help their fellow man, and took that chance, with all its risks and the grave dangers that they would be faced with as a result of their actions at that time.
To deny the Holocaust’s reality or insinuate that it never took place denies that any of this even happened. But the impact of such heroes cannot and will not be denied or conveniently forgotten to provide mere political leverage to a proven demagogue and moral coward.