AFP: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted on Tuesday Israel would suffer the same fate as the USSR, as Iran faced a barrage of condemnation for hosting a conference casting doubt on the Holocaust. by Farhad Pouladi
TEHRAN, Dec 12, 2006 (AFP) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted on Tuesday Israel would suffer the same fate as the USSR, as Iran faced a barrage of condemnation for hosting a conference casting doubt on the Holocaust.
A host of “revisionist” historians, including a former Ku Klux Klan leader, attended the conference that wrapped up Tuesday, giving papers claiming to show that mass slaughter of six million Jews in World War II did not happen.
“When I said what was in the mind of the nation, that this regime (Israel) would disappear, the Zionist network attacked me a lot,” the president told the participants after welcoming them for a private meeting after the conference.
“But just as the USSR disappeared, soon the Zionist regime will disappear,” he said.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair slammed the conference as “shocking beyond belief”, while the United States described the meeting as “an affront to the entire civilized world.”
Ahmadinejad, who has described Holocaust as a “myth” and cast doubt on the scale of the slaughter, did not repeat his previous comments but complained that the Holocaust was being used as a pretext by Israel.
“Whether the Holocaust occurred or did not or whether it had vast dimensions or not, it has become a pretext to create a base for aggression and threats for the countries of the region,” he said.
He told the participants, including a sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe the creation of Israel was an abomination, that researchers and students should get together and examine the Holocaust in more detail.
Papers delivered on the last day of the conference included “A Challenge to the Official Holocaust Story”, and “Holocaust, the Achilles Heel of a Primordial Jewish Trojan”.
“I think it is such a symbol of sectarianism and hatred towards people of another religion, I find it just unbelievable,” said Blair. “I found that this conference that they had questioning the Holocaust is shocking beyond belief.”
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters: “The gathering of Holocaust deniers in Tehran is an affront to the entire civilized world, as well as to the traditional Iranian values of tolerance and mutual respect.”
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert led a chorus of angry condemnation from the Jewish state, saying the statements fromm Iranian officials “underline the danger to Western civilisation as a whole from such a state”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after meeting Olmert in Berlin, condemned “in the strongest terms” dismissals of the Holocaust by the “revisionist” historians.
Reacting to the conference, the Vatican described the Holocaust as an “appalling tragedy to which one cannot remain indifferent.”
Some of the most notorious Western figures who have downplayed the scale of the Holocaust have been attending the event, including French professor Robert Faurisson and German-born Australian Fredrick Toeben.
An assistant of Toeben, who maintains the existence of gas chambers to be an “outright lie”, tried to illustrate his claim using a model of the Treblinka extermination camp he had brought to the conference.
“There is no scientific proof to show that this place was an extermination camp. All that exists are the words of some people,” said Richard Krege.
He claimed that only 5,000 people died in the camp — of disease. Most historians believe that at least 800,000 prisoners were murdered in the camp.
The conference is the latest brush with controversy for Iran, which is already facing UN sanctions for failing to agree to halt sensitive nuclear work.
Historians specialising in the Third Reich, basing their figures on original Nazi documents, generally believe around six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, although some estimates are slightly lower or higher. Hitler’s regime also killed millions of non-Jews.
It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in a dozen European countries, including Germany and Austria.
Mainstream scholars of the Holocaust held a counter-gathering in Berlin on Monday to condemn the conference, entitled “Study of the Holocaust: A Global Perspective”.
US academic Raul Hilberg, the author of “Destruction of the European Jews” which is widely considered one of the standard texts on the Holocaust, said he wanted to make “a statement” by attending the Berlin conference.
The European Jewish Congress “condemned in the strongest terms” the “negationist and revisionist” conference in Iran attended by Western figures it described as “pseudo-historians and intellectuals”.