Reuters: The German Foreign Ministry said on Friday it had summoned Iran’s ambassador to protest against suggestions by Iran’s president that the Holocaust might not have
happened and that Israel should be moved to Europe. By Louis Charbonneau
BERLIN (Reuters) – The German Foreign Ministry said on Friday it had summoned Iran’s ambassador to protest against suggestions by Iran’s president that the Holocaust might not have happened and that Israel should be moved to Europe.
Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said at a government news conference the decision to deliver a formal protest to Iran’s envoy in Berlin was meant to show that Berlin was taking the president’s comments very seriously.
“We have summoned the Iranian ambassador,” Jaeger told reporters. “When one summons an ambassador, then you signal the start of something in diplomacy, that there are grounds for serious discussion.”
The remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a news conference in the Saudia Arabian city of Mecca, follow his call in October for Israel to be “wiped off the map”, which sparked widespread international condemnation.
Six million Jews were killed in the Nazi Holocaust. Regarding this, Ahmadinejad was quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA as saying on Thursday:
“Although we don’t accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?” he said.
“If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe — like in Germany, Austria or other countries — to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it.”
German Jewish leaders called for political sanctions against the Islamic republic over Ahmadinejad’s remarks. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany.
Paul Spiegel, head of the Jewish Council, told ARD television: “I telephoned the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) and made clear that the time for verbal comment is over. There now has to be action. The comments of this man, first a few weeks ago and again yesterday, are the worst I have heard…from a statesman since Adolf Hitler.”
In another statement, he said Ahmadinejad had shown that he was not only a Holocaust-denier but a rabble-rouser.
“Political instruments ranging from political and economic sanctions to expulsion from the United Nations must finally be seriously looked at and used,” he added.
Michel Friedman, chairman of the German chapter of the international Jewish organization Keren Hayesod, said Germany should begin by severing diplomatic ties with Tehran.
“A few weeks ago he said Israel should be destroyed. Now he denies and relativises the Holocaust. This can no longer be tolerated diplomatically. I call on the government … to sever diplomatic ties with Iran,” Friedman told N24 news television.
Germany is the biggest exporter to Iran.