Respectful Insolence

Watch how a Holocaust denier (in this case, the President of Iran) dances around the question “Did the Holocaust happen?” You can see the very same techniques when a denier like David Irving or Ernst Zundel is questioned about the Holocaust:

SPIEGEL: It concerned your remarks about the Holocaust. It was inevitable that the Iranian president’s denial of the systematic murder of the Jews by the Germans would trigger outrage.

Ahmadinejad: I don’t exactly understand the connection.

SPIEGEL: First you make your remarks about the Holocaust. Then comes the news that you may travel to Germany — this causes an uproar. So you were surprised after all?

Ahmadinejad: No, not at all, because the network of Zionism is very active around the world, in Europe too. So I wasn’t surprised. We were addressing the German people. We have nothing to do with Zionists.

Yep, according to President Ahmandinejad, it’s all the Jews’ fault. And he continues:

SPIEGEL: Are you still saying that the Holocaust is just “a myth?”

Ahmadinejad: I will only accept something as truth if I am actually convinced of it.

SPIEGEL: Even though no Western scholars harbor any doubt about the Holocaust?

Ahmadinejad: But there are two opinions on this in Europe. One group of scholars or persons, most of them politically motivated, say the Holocaust occurred. Then there is the group of scholars who represent the opposite position and have therefore been imprisoned for the most part. Hence, an impartial group has to come together to investigate and to render an opinion on this very important subject, because the clarification of this issue will contribute to the solution of global problems. Under the pretext of the Holocaust, a very strong polarization has taken place in the world and fronts have been formed. It would therefore be very good if an international and impartial group looked into the matter in order to clarify it once and for all. Normally, governments promote and support the work of researchers on historical events and do not put them in prison.

In other words, if you believe in the historicity of the Holocaust, you are “politically motivated.” If you are a denier, you are imprisoned and punished for your beliefs. Here’s one reason that I’m so opposed to laws criminalizing Holocaust denial. It gives fodder to demagogues like the President of Iran, letting them represent it as “dangerous” to power and thus possibly truthful. Of course, free speech considerations are the main reason why I find such anti-denial laws troubling, but this is one concrete bad consequence of such laws.

More interesting, however, is Ahmadinejad’s appeal to Germans and what is probably his real motivation for his Holocaust denial, the delegitimization of the State of Israel:

SPIEGEL: Well, we are conducting this historical debate with you for a very timely purpose. Are you questioning Israel’s right to exist?

Ahmadinejad: Look here, my views are quite clear. We are saying that if the Holocaust occurred, then Europe must draw the consequences and that it is not Palestine that should pay the price for it. If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from. I believe that the German people today are also prisoners of the Holocaust. Sixty million people died in the Second World War. World War II was a gigantic crime. We condemn it all. We are against bloodshed, regardless of whether a crime was committed against a Muslim or against a Christian or a Jew. But the question is: Why among these 60 million victims are only the Jews the center of attention?

Uh, Mr. President, perhaps it’s because the Nazi regime specifically targeted European Jews for expulsion and extermination–and almost succeeded, in the process developing a huge system of industrialized killing and death camps the likes of which the world had never seen before.

I recommend that everyone read the rest of the interview to see what kind of person we’re dealing with. It’s rather long, but it’s quite illuminating. Zealot or con man? You be the judge.The President of Iran essentially talks in circles but nonetheless cleverly plays to the right wing of German politics and its oft-stated belief that Germany shouldn’t have to apologize for its Nazi past anymore. Even so, he seems to have a bit of a tin ear. I can hardly see that his essential argument (namely that, if the Holocaust “happened” Jews should be given land in Europe, presumably in Germany, for their state rather than–in his view–”punishing” the Palestinians) would be likely to win over many of the German and European audience to whom he seems to be playing.

I will give the interviewer credit, though. He challenges Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial time and time again

Comments

  1. #1 Karl
    May 30, 2006

    It is interesting how much that discussion sounds like one between, say, Ed Brayton and any of the IDists. They make outrageous statements, Ed carefully, logically, dissects their arguments, they, essentially, ignore the logic and repeat the claims – over and over. Do you thimk there is a connection? Fanaticism?, hatred?, stupidity?, what?

  2. #2 Bronze Dog
    May 30, 2006

    Do you thimk there is a connection? Fanaticism?, hatred?, stupidity?, what?

    All of the above, in varying proportions among individuals.

  3. #3 Jason
    May 30, 2006

    I’d really like to know WHY holocaust deniers ARE imprisoned.

    WHY? If it’s not a threat to power, then why?

    Also, it doesn’t sound here like Ahmenacdafhijad is a holocaust denier, but more of a skeptic.

  4. #4 Jason
    May 30, 2006

    Oh, and Germany SHOULDN’T have to apologize for its Nazi past anymore. These people aren’t Nazis and they shouldn’t have to apologize simply because they are German and Nazis were German (and Austrian).

    I had better not have to apologize for W 30 years from now. He’s not MY president.

  5. #5 jre
    May 30, 2006

    OK, here’s my passionate, yet closely reasoned response to Jason’s comment:
    Wait, I’m out of troll food! DAMN! And I had it on my shopping list! I guess it’ll have to wait until next time.

  6. #6 Hank Barnes
    May 30, 2006

    Not bad, Orac.

    You write:

    I recommend that everyone read the rest of the interview to see what kind of person we’re dealing with. It’s rather long, but it’s quite illuminating. Zealot or con man?

    He is both a zealot and a con man. But, he is much worse than that — he is a dictator who seeks nuclear weapons.

    So, tagging him as a “Holocaust Denier” is fine, but, a bit misplaced.

    What do you propose we DO about him? Pre-emptive strike? Saber rattling? UN sanctions?

    I would submit that the least of our problems are his abstract ahistorical, stupid views, and that we should focus on the concrete threat he poses.

    HankB

  7. #7 Orac
    May 30, 2006

    Also, it doesn’t sound here like Ahmenacdafhijad is a holocaust denier, but more of a skeptic.

    If that’s really what you think, then you’re an idiot and have no clue what Holocaust denial is.

    JRE has you pegged.

  8. #8 Orac
    May 30, 2006

    I would submit that the least of our problems are his abstract ahistorical, stupid views, and that we should focus on the concrete threat he poses.

    You missed the point, Hank (as you usually do).

    It is his ahistorical and stupid views that are a major part of the the strategy behind the threat he poses. He wishes to delegitimize the State of Israel as a prelude to its destruction. If, as he puts it, the Holocaust “didn’t happen,” then to him the State of Israel has no right to exist. If, on the other hand, he decides it “did happen,” then the Palestinians “shouldn’t be punished” for the sins of the Nazis and Israel belongs in Europe, not the Middle East. Either way, to him the State of Israel is illegitimate.

    Such is his warped logic.

  9. #9 Thomas
    May 31, 2006

    “But, he is much worse than that — he is a dictator who seeks nuclear weapons.”

    It’s amazing how many errors you managed to squeeze in there, Hank. Ahmadinejad doesn’t lead Iran and thus can’t be a dictator. He is on the other hand the highest *elected* official in the country making the term dictator even more misplaced. Furthermore Ahmadinejad is not in control of the Iranian nuclear program or the military. He just is a convenient boogeyman for people who wish to incite against Iran.

    To Ahmadinejad and many other muslims, Israel is an expression of European colonialism. A bunch of European settlers, in this case Jews, decided they wanted more land and moved to Palestine to get it, forcibly evicting most of the native population. Then came the Holocaust and while the Palestinians had nothing to do with it Zionists did manage to use it as an argument that they needed a land of their own, while Arabs even back then suggested that it would make more sense if Jews got a state in Preussia as compensation since it was the Germans who actually were guilty.

    The original sin of using the Holocaust for political purposes isn’t Ahmadinejad’s but started to justify Israel. Nevertheless Ahmadiejad is illogical in his belief that casting doubt on the Holocaust weakens Israel. He should admit it happened and just stick to the argument that the Palestinians shouldn’t have had to pay for it. It would also help if he realized that even the Palestinians at this point are willing to accept Israel if it only withdraws from its illegal settlements.

    Consider how you’d feel if your country had been given away to Chinese immigrants as compensation for the atrocities Japan inflicted on China in WW II. Wouldn’t you be somewhat tempted to use the same illogical argument that those atrocities didn’t take place?

    For that matter, how come it is seen as so bad that Ahmadinejad has odd ideas about what happened in faraway Europe a generation ago, while in the West we have cared so little about the way Japan has denied reposnsibility for the just as bad atrocities it committed in China? To me it seems much worse to deny responsibility for actions of your own country. How about all the atrocities the European powers has committed all over the world? What about US atrocities in Vietnam? Not long ago France had a law requiring schools to teach the “positive aspects” of colonialism. Why didn’t that give the same international outrage?

  10. #10 Alexander Whiteside
    May 31, 2006

    You could argue that there are two groups of people in Iran, those who believe the country exists and those who believe it does not (I’m sure you could find somebody who believes the latter). I doubt he’d be particularly charmed if the US started executing foreign policy based on the latter assertion.

  11. #11 Prup aka Jim Benton
    May 31, 2006

    Thomas:
    A little history. Zionism — the belief that the Jews were a ‘nation’ that needed a homeland because of the persecution they were undergoing — predated the holocaust by several decades. It was a reaction to Russian pogroms and the Dreyfus Affair. It was, originally, an entirely secular movement, and Herzl was willing to accept a homeland in Kenya — he was outvoted on this — to demonstrate the non-religious nature of the cause. (Meanwhile, religious Jews had been talking of ‘Aliyah’ — return to their original homeland — since they had been kicked out of it by the Romans in 73 AD.)

    Most Jews did not become zionists until after the Holocaust. The ultra-religious viewed the ‘return to Jerusalem’ and the re-founding of a Jewish state to be something that should occur with the coming of the Messiah, a secular leader not a religious figure. (Some ultra-Orthodox such as the Satmars still feel this way and do not accept Israel.) Meanwhile, the secular Jews felt themselves as citizens of their countries and saw no need for their own state until Hitler.
    For the most part, the Zionists who did return to Palestine bought the land — which was extremely undeveloped and occupied by Arabs who did not see themselves as “Palestinians” or as a nation at all, that only came after the founding of the state.

    While legitimate complaints can be made about the actions of the Israelis in recent years, remember that they had originally agreed to a ‘two-state solution.’ It was the Palestinians who rejected this, and the Arab countries which attempted to attack Israel on the day it was founded.

  12. #12 Thomas
    May 31, 2006

    Prup, I am quite aware that Zionism predates the Holocaust, and that Jewish immigration to Palestine predates even Zionism. The first 19th century Jewish immigrants just wanted to live in the holy Land and had no wish to create a Jewish state. As you say they would have seen it as blasphemy to do so before the arrival of the Messiah. However, Zionists started to fight for a state long before Hitler. You had early riots, massacres and terrorism from both the Jews and Arabs in the 20s. Fighting didn’t start with the declaration of the state of Israel. For example, the infamous massacre at Deir Yasin took place some weeks before this. Had the Arabs been more up to date in their propaganda they would have justified their invasion in the same way NATO justified its invasion of Kosovo. Nor was it the Palestinians who declared war but neighboring Arab states. As you should know Jordan seized the part of the intended Palestinian state that wasn’t grabbed by Israel, and if you read accounts from UN troops at the time they were equally exasperated with both sides for breaking all ceasefires. The Palestinians just got caught in the middle, gut at least the Jordans were decent enough to give them citizenship rather than drive them out. Besides, why should the Palestinians accept that some foreign body on the other side of the Earth decided to give away their land to a bunch of immigrants who wanted to create an ethnic state excluding them?

    Try reading this early debate in Knesset, and see how Begin basically accuses Ben Gurion of treason for not sezing all of the land he thinks ought to be theirs, and how Ben Gurion defends himself by claiming they just didn’t have the people to become a majority in such a large area. The Arabs had good reason to suspect that the original partion was just a first step for Israel, that once established they would look for a pretext to expand, as indeed they did.
    http://www.jcpa.org/art/knesset2.htm

    If you go much further back, Jews weren’t kicked out of Israel by the Romans, they mainly left because Israel was at that time a very poor part of the Roman empire so they tried their luck elsewhere.

    You claim the Jews bought land. Sure, they bought some. They owned around 6% of it at the time of independence. Enough to base claims of a state on? I don’t think so. The land was poor, but it wasn’t empty, and while colonialism has always been justified by claims that the natives just didn’t use the land in the most economical fashion, that is a lousy excuse to steal it.

  13. #13 Hank Barnes
    May 31, 2006

    It is his ahistorical and stupid views that are a major part of the the strategy behind the threat he poses.

    Not related to “holocaust denial,” which is why YOU miss the point. He seeks the destruction of Israel. Period. This is true whether or not he believes the Holocaust occurred.

    He wishes to delegitimize the State of Israel as a prelude to its destruction.

    Don’t know about a “prelude,” but he does seek Israel’s destruction.

    If, as he puts it, the Holocaust “didn’t happen,” then to him the State of Israel has no right to exist.

    NO! Go read Michael Oren — “Six Days of War.” The Arabs, lead by Nassar of Egypt, sought several times to invade Israel and destroy her. It has nothing to do with the Holocaust. Crack a history book once in a while, you’ll astound yourself!

    If, on the other hand, he decides it “did happen,” then the Palestinians “shouldn’t be punished” for the sins of the Nazis and Israel belongs in Europe, not the Middle East.

    This is total gibberish and revisionist. The Holocaust was one part of a brutal bloody conflict that killed millions around the globe and created millions of refugees. The Zionist movement preceded this epic tragedy, and in its aftermath helped persuade the nations of the nascent international body, the UN, to settle the longstanding British dispute over Palestine, by creating the State of Israel.

    Either way, to him the State of Israel is illegitimate.

    That’s true. To the extent he supports Arab terrorists or continues to threaten Israel with nuclear weapons, he is a mortal threat. But, your emphasis on debunking holocaust denial is totally misplaced here. If today he recognized the Holocaust, he would still constitute a mortal threat to Israel, as long as he seeks nuclear weapons and supports terrorists.

    Abstract v. Concrete

    Hank Barnes

  14. #14 Thomas
    May 31, 2006

    Hank, you just can’t stop making these false claims, can you? Ahmadinejad does believe that Israel will cease to exist, but the analogies he made in his by now famous speech was to how the Soviet Union ceased to be, how the Shah was overthrown and to how Saddam no longer rules Iraq. Not to any Nazi-style genocide. Nor has he threatened Israel with any nuclear weapons, which would be a rather stupid thing to do given that the real Iranian leadership has declared the use of nuclear weapons to be against Islam and that Iran has consistently denied attempting to get any. And Ahmadinejad *still* doesn’t control either the military or the nuclear programs in Iran.

    Iran has supported “terrorism” in that it supported Hezbollah in its fight against the Israeli invasion forces, but how bad is it to support a people fighting a foreign occupation? What, for example, USA did in Nicaragua was a lot worse when it comes to supporting terrorism.

    Let Ahmadinejad make his silly speeches, Iran isn’t any threat to Israel. (Which Israel seemed to understand during the Iran-Iraq when it was one of very few countries that sold weapons to Iran). The threat to Israel is the bad publicity it gets from its occupation, assassination policy and ethnic cleansing. That and the situation in Iraq. The civil war there can breed any kind of regime or terrorists and there is not much anyone can do about it at this point.

  15. #15 Hank Barnes
    May 31, 2006

    Thomas,

    Let Ahmadinejad make his silly speeches, Iran isn’t any threat to Israel

    Most sane people differ with your opinion.

    In fact, Israel views Iran as a nuclear threat.

    You are lost.

    Hank Barnes

  16. #16 Thomas
    May 31, 2006

    Hank, I already know that some people want to see a war aginst Iran, as if the war against Iraq wasn’t bad enough. That’s why I consider it important to point out the deceptions by people like the one who wrote that column in Boston Globe, which takes a mistranslated statement out of context. Ahmadinejad didn’t threaten to wipe Israel off the map, he said that he believed that the occupation regime in Israel would disappear just as the communist regime in the Soviet union did.

    That Olmert as head of an undeclared nuclear power should call for USA to do its dirty work in dismarming Iran is shameful. Unlike Iran Israel is a nation that actually does occupy foreign land, and Olmert is confirming that they have every intention of keeping part of it forever. Perhaps USA would do better to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestine and join the NPT?

    Maybe I’m lost, but at least I know more about the middle East than you do. USA in its illegal invasion of Iraq has killed more people than decades of conflict in and around Israel, so why is it Iran that is seen as the big threat and not USA? Does Bush need a new diversion to hide his failures?

  17. #17 Hank Barnes
    May 31, 2006

    Maybe I’m lost, ..

    Hey, we have agreement here!

    …but at least I know more about the middle East than you do.

    I think the “I know you are but what am I” retort is kinda stale. Mebbe still good on the playgrounds, though.

    USA in its illegal invasion of Iraq has killed more people than decades of conflict in and around Israel, so why is it Iran that is seen as the big threat and not USA? Does Bush need a new diversion to hide his failures?

    Umm, Thomas, the thread is not about Iraq, not about USA, and not about Bush.

    It’s about a crazy-man, running Iran. Orac doesn’t like him, because he’s a holocaust denier. I don’t like him because he poses a nuclear threat to Israel and the region. Stay focused.

    Hank

  18. #18 Hank Barnes
    May 31, 2006

    Addendum:

    I also don’t like this nut-job’s Holocaust Denial, but I think it more of an abstract problem, than a palpable threat.

    HB

  19. #19 Roman Werpachowski
    May 31, 2006

    Hank, I already know that some people want to see a war aginst Iran, as if the war against Iraq wasn’t bad enough. That’s why I consider it important to point out the deceptions by people like the one who wrote that column in Boston Globe, which takes a mistranslated statement out of context. Ahmadinejad didn’t threaten to wipe Israel off the map, he said that he believed that the occupation regime in Israel would disappear just as the communist regime in the Soviet union did.

    It seems that the Arab news network Aljazeera is also “slandering” Ahmadinejad:

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

    “The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world,” the president told a conference in Tehran on Wednesday, entitled The World without Zionism.

    “The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land,” he said.

    “As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,” said Ahmadinejad, referring to Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayat Allah Khomeini.

    His comments were the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official has called for Israel’s eradication, even though such slogans are still regularly used at government
    rallies.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/15E6BF77-6F91-46EE-A4B5-A3CE0E9957EA.htm

    But hell, everyone knows that Aljazeera editors are Rumsfeld’s puppets.

    USA in its illegal invasion of Iraq has killed more people than decades of conflict in and around Israel, so why is it Iran that is seen as the big threat and not USA? Does Bush need a new diversion to hide his failures?

    You know, Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo was also initially illegal (it was legalized a posteriori).

  20. #20 Thomas
    June 1, 2006

    “Thomas, the thread is not about Iraq, not about USA, and not about Bush.”

    And how can we consider if the actions of Iran are sane or not without considering the political situation in its neighbors? How can we judge if they are bad enough to warrant special attention if we don’t compare it to other threats to international security? Considering that USA is the most powerful and belligerent country towards Iran, how can we ignore how that country has acted before?

    Iran is under heavy military threat. And my retort was based on facts: your statements like that Ahmadinejad is a dictator show a complete ignorance about the situation in Iran.

    Roman, as you say Al Jazeera is Arab, and there is little love beteween Arabs and Perians. And yes, NATO’s war against Serbia was against international law, the UN charter and the statutes of NATO. Not to meantion how Clinton blew up the largest pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in what can only be described as a terrorist attack. How come people always assume you have to be a Clinton fan just because you consider Bush a dangerous madman?

  21. #21 Roman Werpachowski
    June 1, 2006

    Oh this bloody warmongering USA! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5035810.stm

    Roman, as you say Al Jazeera is Arab, and there is little love beteween Arabs and Perians.

    Ah, now I get it. Anyone who speaks anything bad about Iranian authorities is the enemy of Iran ;-)

    Sorry, but you lame excuses carry no weight. Ahmadinejad said what he said, period.

    And yes, NATO’s war against Serbia was against international law, the UN charter and the statutes of NATO.

    … but the point is that it was a Damn Good Thing since it saved thousands of lives of Kosovo Albanians, who’d otherwise would be wiped out by Serbian ethnic cleansing.

  22. #22 Thomas
    June 1, 2006

    Roman, obviously Ahmadinejad said what he said, but he didn’t say it in English, and the proper translation is disputed. Based on the context from the NY Times translation I conclude that he did not threaten Israel with any nuclear attack. He was just stating that he thought the Israeli system was doomed, just as Americans and Soviets during the cold war repeatedly did to each other.

    It also seems you’ve forgotten that the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo didn’t start until NATO decided to go to war. The story before then is a lot more complex than you make it sound like. There was a civil war going on with the US supported communist guerillas controlling 30% of Kosovo at one point. (After USA had blackmailed Serbia to withdraw its military while putting no equal demands on the rebels). Before KLA started its armed struggle the Serbian government did in many ways oppress Kosovo, but at the same time it was surprisingly tolerant to how Rugova set up a non-violent parallel government, calling himself President and collecting taxes. Would USA or Israel be more tolerant if part of their country used terrorist methods to achieve independence? (I think history gives a firm NO as answer to that question).

    In addition, the war against Serbia was unnecessary. In Rambuillet the Serbs agreed to the first suggested peace treaty, while KLA refused. The deal was then changed to something that was totally unreasonable to Serbia, such as giving NATO free access to Serbian airspace, the right to station unlimited number of troops on Serbian soil and the right to use Serbian TV-stations to broadcast propaganda. Thus the war was started. As far as I can tell the intervention in Kosovo was to a large extent a revenge for how the West had failed to act in the war in Bosnia, and a desire to finally punish Serbia for something. It was also a very dirty war where NATO totally failed to defeat the Serbian army in Kosovo and instead shifted to destroying Serbian industry and infrastructure to force it to withdraw from parts of its own territory.

  23. #23 Roman Werpachowski
    June 1, 2006

    Roman, obviously Ahmadinejad said what he said, but he didn’t say it in English, and the proper translation is disputed.

    And obviously a Middle East news television has no Persian translators capable of getting him right, eh?

    There was a civil war going on with the US supported communist guerillas controlling 30% of Kosovo at one point.

    And the mafia… yeah, I know. Ibrahim Rugova however was not a communist. (Even if he was: so ethnic cleansing of the communists is OK??)

    It was also a very dirty war where NATO totally failed to defeat the Serbian army in Kosovo and instead shifted to destroying Serbian industry and infrastructure to force it to withdraw from parts of its own territory.

    It was also a war with minimal losses on both sides. Bombing the industry (i.e. empty factories at night) was much better than killing Serbian infantry and armor, don’t you think?

  24. #24 Thomas
    June 1, 2006

    Rugova was not a communist, nor was he supported by NATO. For some incomprehensible reason NATO and in particular USA choose to support the KLA (UCK) instead. And I repeat: there was no etnic cleansing before NATO started its war. The ethnic cleansing was a brutal Serbian response to the war, attempting to settle facts on the ground before NATO could use its military superiority to conquer Kosovo, and it was very cynical of NATO to use an event that only started due to its own actions to justify attacking Serbia.

    You make it sound as if the attacks on Serbian infrastructure was a deliberate humanitarian decision. It wasn’t, NATO expended a lot of ammunition trying to destroy the Serbian army in Kosovo, it’s just that they failed. Afterwards the forests were full of plywood tanks blown up by “smart” NATO bombs. It turned out the Serbs even had a small airforce holed up in Kosovo in preparation for a possible NATO ground invasion.

    BTW, I hope you realize that the logical continuation of the Kosovo war would have been to attack Israel to force it to end its occupation of Palestine, and that for this reason Nethanyahu initially expressed support for Serbia. During the war a list was jokingly circulated among officers for in what order countries should be invaded, and while Israel topped this list most were included. Britain to liberate Northern Ireland, Spain to liberate Basque etc.

  25. #25 Clark
    June 2, 2006

    Thomas (Friedman? -g-) Do you have a good, relatively unbiased, source for the early history of Israel? Most of the books currently in print are either propaganda or history-lite.

  26. #26 Thomas
    June 2, 2006

    Clark, you could try “Four Arab-Israeli wars and the peace process” by Sydney D Bailey. It’s fairly old and very dry but contains quite a few original documents.

  27. #27 FERN SIDMAN
    June 19, 2006

    AND THE SILENCE WAS DEAFENING

    BY: FERN SIDMAN

    The history of the Jewish people is replete with scourges, haters and mass murderers of our people. The latest menace to our people is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He spews forth his vitriol against Israel and the Jewish people on a daily basis and has threatened to use his nuclear arsenal at will. There is no question that this latest madman must be taken seriously.

    In his translation of a speech to the “World Without Zionism” conference held for students in October of 2005, Nazila Fathi of The New York Times’ Tehran bureau reported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying, regarding Israel, in part:

    Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime (Israel)must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world. But we must be aware of tricks.

    Ahmadinejad also claimed in the speech that the issue with Palestine would be over “the day that all refugees return to their homes [and] a democratic government elected by the people comes to power”, and denounced attempts to normalize relations with Israel, condemning all Muslim leaders who accept the existence of Israel as “acknowledging a surrender and defeat of the Islamic world.”
    The speech also indicated that the Iranian President considered Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to be a trick, designed to gain acknowledgement from Islamic states. In a rally held two days later, Ahmadinejad declared that his words reflected the views of the Iranian people, adding that Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid.

    In December of 2005 and January and May of 2006 Ahmadinejad made controversial statements which denied the veracity of the Holocaust and criticized European laws against Holocaust denial. CNN and other media outlets reported that he stated concerning the Holocaust that “they have invented a myth that Jews were massacred.”

    In an interview with the German publication Der Spiegel, Ahmadinejad was asked, “Are you still saying that the Holocaust is just ‘a myth’?” He responded, “I will only accept something as truth if I am actually convinced of it.” In the same interview, he later stated, “We oppose every type of crime against any people. But we want to know whether this crime actually took place or not.. If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from”.

    In an interview with Iranian state television’s Arabic-language satellite channel, Al-Alam, on December 8, 2005, Ahmadinejad referred to Israel as a “tumor”, and suggested that it should be relocated to Europe. His other quotes concerning Israel and the Jews are as follows:

    “You believe the Jews were oppressed, why should the Palestinian Muslims have to pay the price?”

    “Germany and Austria, come and give one, two or any number of your provinces to the Zionist regime so they can create a country there… and the problem will be solved at its root.”

    “They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets.”

    “If somebody in their country questions God, nobody says anything, but if somebody denies the myth of the massacre of Jews, the Zionist loudspeakers and the governments in the pay of Zionism will start to scream.”

    If these statements were not enough proof of the danger of the current Iranian regime, it has been recently reported by the Iranian news service that Mohammed Ali Ramim, a senior advisor to Ahmadinejad told students during a visit to the town of Rasht in Iran that, “Jews are a filthy people, and that is why they have been accused throughout history of spreading deadly disease and plagues.”

    Ramin, an alleged historian who serves as the president’s most senior aide, is believed to be the man behind the regime’s recent statements that the Holocaust is a myth. Ramin went on to say, “Historically, there are many accusations against the Jews. For example, it was said that they were the source for such deadly disease as the plague and typhus. This is because the Jews are very filthy people. For a time people also said that they poisoned water wells belonging to Christians and thus killed them.”

    Ramin also reiterated past statements made by Ahmadinejad regarding the Holocaust, saying it was the cause for the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, and claimed that Israel is responsible for the Middle East crisis. “So long as Israel exists in the region there will never be peace and security in the Middle East,” he said adding, “so the resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel”.

    The Jerusalem Post reported on 6/16/06 that Ahmadinejad said during a news conference following a meeting with Chinese president Hu Jintao, that, “I think we have sufficiently talked about this matter and these Holocaust events need to be further investigated by independent and impartial parties.” He added that, “An event that has influenced so many diplomatic and political equations of the world needs to investigated and researched by impartial and independent groups.”

    To those who are students of history, we know that this kind of propaganda is not new. It has been utilized against the Jews since time immemorial. We know that Hitler and his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels honed this practice to a fine art. We also know that the current Iranian administration is well adept in this modality as well. We who know the truth, know that this kind of incendiary rhetoric is designed to create a dramatic rise in Jew hatred, thus facilitating their final goal, the eradication of the State of Israel and of the Jewish people. Yes, it is yet the latest round of modern day Hitlers. We are used to this. We must tell the Iranian madman that we’re not going anywhere. We must tell him and the world that no one will eradicate the State of Israel and extricate the Jewish people from their home.

    And to those who believe that this “blather” should not be taken seriously are in fact denying the real threat that this latest round of Jew haters represents. And we ask, “What does the world have to say about all this? Where are all the bold and unequivocal denunciations and condemnations from the leaders of the free world?”

    The answer is clear to those who wish to see it. The world cares little for the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. This is not the first time in history that this kind of anti-Jewish invective has been promulgated by state leaders. This kind of anti-Jewish canard and propaganda has become standard fare for the wide variety of Jew haters that fill the world.

    It is time to clarify our position and to announce without fear and trepidation what our position is. The modern Jewish State of Israel did not come into being because we needed a safe asylum for the thousands of survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust. The Jews of Europe did not come to a country that did not belong to them and displace it’s Arab population. The Jews of Europe and from around the world, came back to their homeland. They did not come as “occupiers” but they returned as the sole legitimate owners of a land that was given to them by the G-d of Israel.

    Did the world feel sorry for the Jews and “allow” them to call “Palestine” their home and rename it Israel? We will never know the true motivation of the UN vote that established Israel as a Jewish State on May 14, 1948. We do however, know that the current state of affairs between the “Palestinians” and the Israelis has nothing to do with the Holocaust. We do know that it is yet another diatribe aimed at delegitimizing the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. We do know that the Holocaust did indeed occur and has been documented and there is no need to investigate it’s authenticity. Just ask any Holocaust survivor.

    We do know that our claim and ownership of the Land of Israel was given to us by the Almighty G-d of Israel and our ownership is declared before any other commandment. One need only look at the first verse in the Book of Genesis, “In the beginning G-d created the Heaven and the Earth.” The biblical commentator and great Torah giant, Rashi, tells us that this verse establishes the Jewish ownership of the Land of Israel. “If the world will say that we are robbers and stole this land, we know that it was G-d who created the world and it was He who first gave it to Canaanites and then gave it to Bnei Yisroel.” It was He who said that “this land shall be yours for as long as the sky remains over the earth.”

    Yet, it is we who must acknowledge this and it is we who must declare to the world that our right to be in this land is from G-d and it is His rule that we must obey. No government or international body can declare our right to ownership of Israel, for the vacillating will of man can be easily refuted or reversed.. It is we who must know that this is the land in which Hashem Yisborach designated as a homeland for us for all time. It is we who must tell this to the nations of the world and to the Iranian dictator. For in the end, it is G-d who we must fear and not man. Ahmadinejad is just the latest in the never ending flow of Jew haters who seek our destruction. In His infinite mercy, it is Hashem alone who allows us to exist. It is Hashem who has brought down and destroyed all those who sought to annihilate His people.

    It is only through faith and trust in the Almighty G-d of Israel and adherence to His commandments that will see us through this clear and present danger. We must raise our voices in prayer and supplication to the Almighty. Now is the time to gird our loins and prepare to defend our faith. May Hashem give us the strength and courage to overcome our enemies and to do His will.

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