December 29, 2006
Denial of reality...
Iran students denounce Holocaust denial
By: Michael Theodoulou
December 12, 2006
In a rare act of defiance, dozens of Iranian students burnt pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and chanted "Death to the dictator" as he gave a speech at a Tehran university.
Never has the hardline leader faced such open hostility at a public event, which came as Iran opened a conference questioning whether Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews.
One student activist said that the protest was against the “shameful” Holocaust conference and the “fact that many activists have not been allowed to attend university”. The conference “has brought to our country Nazis and racists from around the world”, he added.
Mr Ahmadinejad responded by saying: “Everyone should know that Ahmadinejad is prepared to be burnt in the path of true freedom, independence and justice”, according to an Iranian students’ news agency. He accused the protesters of being “Americanised”.
The protest during a speech at Amir Tabir University unrelated to the Holocaust meeting will be embarrassing for Mr Ahmadinejad.
He has portrayed Iran as a champion of free speech in hosting the two-day Holocaust conference, which has attracted retired Adelaide high school teacher Frederick Toben and other revisionist historians who have served jail sentences in Europe, and David Duke, an American former Ku Klux Klan leader.
Almost 70 researchers from France to Indonesia arrived at the plush conference centre in an affluent north Tehran suburb. The centre’s walls were festooned with posters claiming to debunk “myths” of the Holocaust, disputing whether smoke ever rose from the chimneys at Auschwitz and denouncing the film Schindler’s List, which tells of the Nazi industrialist who rescued more than 1000 Jews.
But the conference has embarrassed many ordinary Iranians who are aware of the damage such events are inflicting on their country’s image.
Some Iranians point out that they have much less freedom to debate pressing issues such as Iran’s nuclear program, which has brought the threat of international sanctions. The conference, which has provoked international condemnation, was inspired by Mr Ahmadinejad himself, who has described the Holocaust as a myth invented to justify the occupation of Palestinian land. He has also declared that Israel should be “wiped off the map”.
The conference has dismayed Iran’s 25,000-strong Jewish community. Moris Motamed, Iran’s sole Jewish MP, said that denying the Holocaust was “a huge insult”.
Those at the conference included American and European rabbis from the fringe ultra-Orthodox group Neturei Karta, whose theology holds that there should be no Jewish state until the Messiah arrives.
Ahron Cohen, a British rabbi, said: “We certainly say there was a Holocaust. But in no way can it be used as a justification for unjust acts against the Palestinians.” Welcoming the participants, Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, declared: “The aim of this conference is not to deny or confirm the Holocaust. Its main aim is to create an opportunity for thinkers who cannot express their views freely in Europe about the Holocaust.”
Georges Thiel, a French writer who has been convicted in France, where Holocaust denial is illegal, said that the Holocaust was “an enormous lie”: “Jewish people have been persecuted, that is true, they have been deported, but there was no machinery of murder in any camp - no gas chambers.”
Dr Toben, who has served a prison sentence in his native Germany for inciting racial hatred, said: “Minds are being switched off to the Holocaust dogma as it is being sold as a historical fact and yet we are not able to question it. This is mental rape.”
He brought a model of the Treblinka extermination camp which, he said, he would demonstrate that the gas chambers did not exist.
From: The Toronto Star
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is guilty of inciting genocide, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told a packed multi-faith rally at a Toronto synagogue last night.
During the rally held to protest the recent Holocaust-denial conference in Iran, the keynote speaker told a crowd of about 3,000 people in the Beth Tzedec Synagogue that he would draft an indictment of Ahmadinejad with Canadian human rights champion Irwin Cotler and bring it forward to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
"We will not sit idly by," he said during an impassioned address to a crowd that included politicians of all stripes.
Like other speakers, he pulled no punches about the two-day conference that was described by all speakers as part of Iran's anti-Israel campaign.
But the well-known American lawyer and author stressed that while there are "kooky" theorists who believe the world is flat and Elvis is alive, those who deny the Holocaust are dangerous since their real agenda is to destroy Israel's future.
One of the biggest rounds of applause - one that brought people to their feet - followed remarks made by Peter Van Loan, the federal government's intergovernmental affairs minister.
He spoke about growing up in York Mills and how as a young Estonian-Canadian he learned to share with his Jewish friends stories about the atrocities suffered at the hands of both Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
That is what made him so proud of his government for standing "firmly with Israel's right to defend itself" last summer during the Hezbollah incursions from Lebanon last summer.
He also told the crowd he was stunned when he heard some question Israel, something that has affirmed his belief that "together we're resolved to never forget."
Author Linda Frum Sokolowski, who was the host, referred to the Iranian conference as one attended by "cranks, oddballs and neo-Nazis," and urged members of the audience to fill in postcards addressed to Ottawa to "not let things drift."
While the roster of "losers and weirdos" who attended make it tempting to laugh, she said all Canadians must know to take the threat seriously. And like other speakers, who included Holocaust survivors, she warned that Holocaust-deniers are "not about the past but about the future."
The evening fell on the seventh night of Chanukah, the holiday which celebrates freedom from religious persecution.
Father Raymond J. De Souza, a Roman Catholic priest from Kingston, told the congregation there can be no doubt "that the Holocaust took place ... it's an historical fact."
Then a video was shown of the U.S. Army discovering the depraved conditions of Nazi concentration camps.
Copyright 2006 - The Toronto Star