1 march 2007
Iranian Scholars Denounce Conference That Denied Holocaust
By NAZILA FATHI
TEHRAN, Feb. 26 — A group of Iranian academics, writers and artists has denounced the Holocaust conference held in Tehran late last year, calling it a move that endangered peace and hurt the reputation of Iranian academics.
The Iranian government organized a two-day gathering in December, billed it as a legitimate conference on the historical record and invited notorious Holocaust deniers and white supremacists from around the world. Among those from the United States was the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
The Foreign Ministry held the event after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said several times that the Holocaust was a myth invented to justify the state of Israel.
In a bold gesture, more than 20 academics, writers and artists, many of whom live outside of Iran, signed a statement that was sent to The New York Times and circulated on the Internet last week, arguing that the gathering was an exercise in propaganda.
The statement said the conference harmed the academic image of Iranian universities and merely provided a pretext for warmongers in the region. It added that the gathering perpetuated the immoral stance of Holocaust denial, a position that seriously endangers world peace.
“The extensive material evidence, the confessions made in the Nuremberg trial and other trials that took place after the war and the testimonies of the survivors established the veracity of the accounts beyond any doubt,” the statement said.
“The accuracy of the accounts has been acknowledged by many academic, political and religious authorities, including the Catholic Church.”
The statement added that talking inconsiderately about the genocide can only be described as rubbing salt into a historical wound.
“Those who perpetuate the discourse on Holocaust denial ignore the feelings of the people directly affected by this event,” it said.
The statement also argued that denying the Holocaust would not help the Palestinian cause. “No matter what political position we adopt regarding the creation of Israel and its further expansion, the historical evidence for the Holocaust remains intact,” it said.
“The Palestinians, like all other nations, have a right to enjoy their livelihood in their own independent state,” the statement added. “This right has nothing to do with the denial or acknowledgment of the Holocaust.”
Given the risk of harassment and repression for those who criticize the government, dissent over the so-called conference had been slow to build. Recently, reformist politicians and several members of Parliament voiced their outrage over the consequences of holding such an event.
Akbar Alami, the parliamentary representative from the northwestern city of Tabriz, had asked Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to appear in Parliament to explain the ministry’s plans for decreasing tension with the West in January and accused Mr. Ahmadinejad of conducting a reckless foreign policy.
“Why did we have to bring up the issue of the Holocaust, which belongs to 60 years ago?” Mr. Alami asked Mr. Mottaki.
Mehdi Karoubi, a veteran politician and a former speaker of Parliament, criticized the event last week, saying that it led to a United Nations resolution against Iran.
“Have we ever asked how questioning the Holocaust has harmed us and what price we had to pay for it?” he asked in a speech at Tehran University, the ILNA Labor news agency reported.
The United Nations reacted to the event in Tehran by adopting a resolution without vote that rejected denial of the Holocaust as a historical event.
Sat, 03 Mar 2007 10:48:04 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
From: "Naim S. Mahlab" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It is a relief to note that the voice of reason still has a place in some Iranian circles.
That part of the world is famous for the ability of its population to delude itself into believing what it wishes to be true, even though the facts on the grounds tell a different story.
In 1948 the Arab world attacked Israel and lost. In 1956 there was a repeat performance under the leadership of Colonel Nasser which had the same results.. Another tragic war took place in 1967 which only confirmed Israel's reality. Another bloody confrontation took place in 1973 which did not change anything.
The late Anwar Saadat had the vision to end this cycle of bloodshed and paid for his good intentions with his life.
Is it not time for the Moslem world to rethink its hostility to the Jewish state, and try to negotiate some acceptable peace agreement that will free both sides to concentrate on improving the lot of their civilian population.
The late Abba Eban said that ' the Arab world never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity'.
This may still be true, but I would like to suggest that the Arab world will benefit greatly from cooperating with Israel.
The tragic fate of the Palestinian refugees has to addressed, but one should not forget that close to a million Jews, natives to the Moslem Near East where they had lived for thousands of years, has to be looked at too. Few areas on this globe have the potential of the Near East if only it could be developed..
Naim S. Mahlab