A just released 68-page Study produced by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists argues that Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s declaration that “Israel should be wiped off the map” is part of a hate campaign that is punishable under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. The Study comes on the heels of an Iranian-sponsored international “Holocaust-cartoon contest” last August in which the “fictitious event” (the Holocaust) served as material for the cartoonists’ creations and follows an Iranian government-sponsored two-day Conference in December 2006 titled “Review of the Holocaust: A Global Perspective” – a Conference dedicated to the proposition that the Holocaust is an historical myth perpetrated by the Jewish people to extract reparations from Germany (thereby making the Germans the true victims) and to establish an illegitimate state.

In the mind of Iranian President Ahmedinejad, destroying the Holocaust as an historical fact would not only delegitimize the State of Israel but demonize the Jewish people for perpetrating its ‘myth’ and it would lay the foundations for their final destruction. Not only is it a blatant attempt to deflect popular attention away from his near complete failure to fulfill his campaign pledges to end poverty and corruption, his crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies and his harsh oratory against the West, but it is a contemptible effort to cast doubt on one of the most horrific crimes ever to confront civilization.

The purported reason for the December Conference was to ‘study’ the Holocaust, but the Conference included no attempt to come to terms with the nature of the well-documented Nazi slaughter, offering only a platform to those pursuing the fantasy that it never happened. Organizers trotted out such neo-Nazis, hard-line racists, and pseudo historians as Frenchman Robert Faurisson (the poster child for Holocaust denial who claims that gas chambers were never used to kill Jews and the author of such articles as “The Rumor of Auschwitz”), Fredrick Toeben (a German-born Australian who claims that the Holocaust was a ‘fairy tale’ and that, at the very most, 2,007 people might have been killed at Auschwitz), Georges Theil (a Frenchman who has called the Holocaust “an enormous lie”) and former Louisiana representative and Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard David Duke (who expressed empathy with the Iranian president, since “the Zionist-influenced media lies about me with the same enthusiasm as they lie about him”).

One Conference delegate advocated setting up a fact-finding committee. Great idea. His ‘researchers’ might begin with the 110,000 written and oral testimonies, detailed Nazi archives and the 70 million pages of films, photographs and documents in the collection of The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority at Yad Vashem in Israel. But truth was never the motive behind the Conference so why bother? It was designed purely for Arab consumption. What was important to Ahmadinejad was not so much the issue of historical truth, but his continuing attempt to deny the legitimacy of Israel by arguing that if the Holocaust was a myth, then Israel had perpetrated what amounts to “the hoax of the 20th century” and had forfeited any moral basis to exist. As Yigal Carmon of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) summed it up: “(Ahmedinejad) is aware that as long as the world remembers the Holocaust, it will resist any new attempt to perpetrate genocide against the Jews. Thus, eradicating the memory of the Holocaust is essential in order to achieve his goal.” Demonizing both Jews and Israel (the heart of his strategy) are a necessary precondition to genocide.

Despite almost universal condemnation of the Conference, the very fact that it was held should be of concern. When the leader of a nation denies history, speaks of genocide and embraces racism, attention must be paid to him. As Bridget Johnson has cautioned in National Review: “(The Conference) is about the rising tide of anti-Israel sentiment that is cresting not only in the Middle East, but among anti-war activists in the United States and Europe. It’s about feeding and legitimating the latent, potent anti-Semitism that has crept back into acceptance across the globe. While any reasoned person will laugh off this latest Ahmadinejad stunt, there is a danger that someone will hear the ‘scholars’ claim that they ‘care for World War II victims’ while stating that the systematic massacre of six million Jews was improbable. He will see news photos of the token ‘Jews United Against Zionism’ rabbis at the Conference* and he will begin to believe that it just might be true”. Iran’s Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki said as much when he confirmed that: “If the official version of the Holocaust is thrown into doubt, then the identity and nature of Israel will be thrown into doubt.” Inevitably, he felt, those who hold this view will come to believe that Israel has no right to defend itself. If Israel comes to be seen as an illegal European colony unfairly transplanted onto Arab lands without any moral basis to exist, then any act of self-defense taken by Israel will be seen as an act of aggression. From the Iranian perspective, the groundwork for genocide will have been sown.

Historical revisionism is no joke. Ant-Zionism is often used as a cloak for anti-Semitism. Questioning the reality of the Holocaust has long been a means of questioning the legitimacy of the State of Israel and delegitimizing the Jews as its victims. Successful Holocaust denial would transfer the blame of silence and responsibility from a complacent humanity, the academic and cultural elites, the anti-Semites, the Church and Germany, as well as the Nazis and the infamous Nazi leaders. It would allow for the avoidance of ever dealing with or learning from grave historical errors or ignoring aggression, or responding with silence and believing that evil things won’t really happen. It would absolve society from any demands to rectify even one aspect of behavior following such a blatant historic catastrophe. The denial strategy would allow ‘believers’ to claim that the Holocaust wasn’t as bad as “some people” claim, the gas chambers weren’t for people but for disinfection, the Jews really didn’t suffer all that much, and that other nationalities suffered much more than the Jews. When these points are accepted, suddenly the impetus for creating the Jewish State becomes an outright lie. Ahmedinejad understands that if he can convince the Arab world that the Holocaust was a ‘myth’, it will be easier to justify murdering these ‘descendants of pigs and monkeys’ whom the world has finally returned to their 3,000 year old Jewish national homeland.

So if the Shi’ite Iranians wish to ingratiate themselves with their Sunni brethren who for decades have been fed a steady anti-Semitic diet of conspiracy theories proclaiming that Jews are vermin and the sworn enemies of Muslims whose only goal was to destroy Islam, that Jews murder Arab babies, use the blood of Arab children to bake their Passover matzos, kidnap Arab children to steal their body parts, caused the AIDS epidemic and fabricated the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) to show that they are ‘somehow’ connected to the Land of Israel – Holocaust denial is probably the best route to follow. What’s striking about Ahmadinejad’s Conference is the silent acquiescence of mainstream Muslims which might lead one to conclude that it is easier to preach lies to the converted than to convince the rest of the world that the truth is really a fiction… which raises one of the most serious flaws in the Iraq Study Group (ISG) Report – the issue of trusting the Iranians.

If we are prepared to believe Iran’s hollow promises on ceasing the development of its nuclear weapons program, then perhaps that says more of the curtain falling on Western courage and values than it does of those who apparently feel secure in their pursuit of a second Holocaust. Ahmedinejad tells us that his pursuit of advanced nuclear capabilities is for peaceful purposes only, yet his words and actions suggest irrationality and the instability of a regime that some in Washington believe can be trusted to participate in achieving an equitable settlement in Iraq. Really? The so-called EU3 (Britain, France and Germany) has “dialogued” constantly with and offered concessions to Tehran for years even as Tehran raced ahead with more centrifuges for its nuclear program. The Reagan administration thought Iran could help free the embassy hostages if it sold arms to the mullahs. That didn’t work either. Who realistically would trust a man who asks crowds to envision “a world without America” and threatens to “wipe Israel off the map”? Even Yahya Rahim Safavi, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps asked: “If Iran finds benefits in an unstable Iraq, why would it wish to play a constructive role?” When Ahmedinejad compares America to “rubble” and Iran to “the coming flood” as he did recently at a Tehran polling station, he is speaking in religious not rhetorical terms so one can rest assured that he means what he says. Nothing will stop him short of direct military confrontation and regime change. So why would Baker, Scowcroft, Gates and almost 70% of the American people place their faith in the word of a man who is contemptuous of the truth, bent on building a new Islamic Empire under Iranian hegemony and totally absorbed in his own apocalyptic vision of mankind unless they are either naive, desperate or insane? What is the point in negotiating any agreement with someone who cannot be trusted to keep his word under any circumstances, lives in an alternate universe, has only a fleeting grasp of reality and is committed to genocide? Why should we empower an Islamic theocracy that copies the hatred of the Third Reich?

What Iran has proven is not a confirmation of the ‘Holocaust myth’, but that it is led by a dangerously hateful and malevolent force whose intentions in the Middle East can never be anything other than to malign, destabilize and ultimately humiliate America while creating a protectorate that will make the region safe for Islamic fascism for generations to come.

* The Neturei Karta (Aramaic for “Guardians of the City”) sect opposes all forms of Zionism and believe that any form of forceful recapture of the Land of Israel is a violation of divine will. It believes the Messiah has not yet arrived and that, as a consequence, the Jewish State is illegitimate. In furtherance of that belief, the group has accepted funding from terrorist organizations dedicated to Israel’s destruction and has served as a propaganda tool for them. This same group kissed and hugged Ahmadinejad when he appeared in New York to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2006. They also exhorted Jews to pray for a Hezbollah victory during the second war with Lebanon after two IDF reservists were captured by the terror organization in a cross-border raid this past summer. In 2002, an American umbrella of ultra-Orthodox American Jewish groups issued a statement sharply condemning those who openly sympathized with the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people. “It is with shame, sadness and outrage,” the statement read, “that we publicly condemn the irresponsible and dangerous actions of a small group of individuals [known generally as Neturei Karta] who have taken upon themselves to endanger the interests of the Jewish Nation, and especially our brethren in Zion, by their reprehensible actions in joining our enemies… Their depiction in the local and international media in religious garb and prayer shawls marching arm-in-arm with the enemy has besmirched the reputations of hundreds of thousands of decent Orthodox…Jews worldwide. Unfortunately this despicable minuscule group, who were ejected decades ago from our synagogues and communities for similar activities, do not accept or listen to the rulings of the leaders of our communities… They should under no circumstances…be associated with any recognized (Orthodox) community…”