Iran’s Holocaust Conference: Assessing the Threat

It is beyond words how grotesque and how offensive that a nation-state would in the 21st century send an invitation to all of the bigots, racists and anti-Semites of the world to gather for a conference where the sole aim is to incite hatred against Jews.

Iran’s pretense that this conference would somehow shed light on the historical truth of the Holocaust is shattered when one looks at the list of attendees, with the likes of David Duke, the avowed anti-Semite and former Klansman, topping the list. While legitimate historians were not included in the conference, some of the world’s most notorious anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers were given an open microphone to spew hatred and bigotry against Jews with the cameras rolling.

For two days, these anti-Semites, racists and Holocaust soldiers rubbed shoulders with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders and members of the fringe anti-Israel sect Neturei Karta, the black-garbed Jews who advocate the “dismantling

For one, it means that Holocaust denial – once a uniquely Western brand of anti-Semitism – is being embraced by Islamic extremists in the Middle East on an unprecedented level. The Iranian government’s goal here is less to foment anti-Semitism and more to de-legitimize the existence of the Jewish State. For if there was no real Holocaust of Jews, then there was no real reason for the creation of Israel in the middle of the Arab world. Mr. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly made clear that he believes the Holocaust is largely a myth created by the West in order to justify the creation of the modern state of Israel after World War II. His embrace of Holocaust deniers enables him to further this warped worldview.

The Holocaust conference also means that we can no longer ignore the threat of a nuclear Iran. If a country with nuclear ambitions also embraces the most virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic voices on the far-right, while thumbing its nose at the international community’s demands that it stop its race toward acquiring nuclear weapons, then we have a serious problem in the form of a true existential threat to the Jewish State.

Iran is sending signals to the world that it aims to position itself as the new nexus for Holocaust denial in the Muslim world. And this is happening in a neighborhood that not only lends it support, but gives aid and comfort to Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites.

Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and Holocaust survivor, is the author of “Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism.