“Polite society helped pave the way for Iran’s Holocaust conference”

December 18, 2006


1. The path to Teheran
2. 40 institutes boycott Iran think tank over Holocaust conference
3. Iranian exile: “The Holocaust conference shames Iran”
4. Incoming UN Secretary-General denounces Iran on Holocaust, Israel
5. Yad Vashem to translate its website to Persian and Arabic
6. The last Iranian Holocaust survivor speaks out
7. Borat steps in
8. Carter refuses to debate Dershowitz
9. Carter infuriates Rwanda survivors too
10. “The Road to Tehran” (By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 16, 2006)
11. “Jimmy Carter trivializes Rwandan genocide” (By Alan Dershowitz, Huffington Post, Dec. 8, 2006)
12. “Borat in Iran at Holocaust event” (Reuters, Dec. 14, 2006)

[Note by Tom Gross]


I attach a piece by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal. Stephens argues (correctly in my view) that Iran’s Holocaust denial conference didn’t arise out of nowhere. “Global polite society has been blazing its own merry trail toward this occasion for decades” – whether through those gentile journalists who have lied that “the scenes at Jenin looked uncannily like the attack on the Warsaw Jewish ghetto in 1944.” Or the Nobel Laureate in Literature, who said an Israeli incursion into Ramallah “is a crime that may be compared to Auschwitz.”

Some disturbed Jews too, such as Tony Judt, head of New York University’s Remarque Institute, and British Labor MP Gerald Kaufman, have also helped pave the way, says Stephens. (For more on Judt, Kaufman and others please use the search mechanism on this website to look through past dispatches.)

“Anti-Zionism has become for many anti-Semites a cloak of political convenience,” observes Stephens.

* The interview with David Duke, mentioned in Stephens’s article below, in which Duke denies the Holocaust live on CNN, can be seen here. The interview is packed with anti-Semitic lies and stereotypes. Duke also praises Professors Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, whose paper on “The Israel Lobby” has been widely denounced as anti-Semitic.


Nearly 40 European and North American research institutes have announced they will suspend contacts with a leading Iranian think tank that helped organize last week’s conference in Teheran of Holocaust deniers.

The institutes, including ones based in Warsaw, Washington, Paris, Berlin and Sofia, have agreed to suspend ongoing programs with the Iranian Institute for Political and International Studies, or IPIS, according to a statement issued by Francois Heisbourg, who organized the boycott. (Heisbourg is president of the Geneva Center for Security Policy.)

They say they will no longer invite IPIS staff to their own forums and will also decline to go on planned future free trips to Iran sponsored by the Iranian institute.

The December 11-12 conference in Teheran drew Holocaust deniers from around the world to debate whether the World War II genocide of Jews took place. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a keynote speaker at the conference, said that Israel will soon be “wiped out” and “humanity will achieve freedom.”


“The Holocaust conference shames Iran,” says exiled Iranian writer Amil Imani, writing in The American Thinker. “We, free Iranians, express our deepest sympathy to the Jewish people for what they have suffered at the hands of the Nazis; and we condemn, in the strongest terms, the new coalition of fascists who are gathering under the disgusting and dangerous banner of Islamofascism,” he said, referring to the presence in Teheran last week of several leading Western neo-Nazis.


Incoming UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Iran on Thursday it was unacceptable to deny the Holocaust or call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

“Denying historical facts especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust is just not acceptable,” Ban, who is a former South Korean foreign minister, said. “Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of states or people.” Ban spoke to reporters after he took an oath of office in the UN General Assembly as secretary-general to succeed Kofi Annan. He assumes his post on January 1.

Ban would not discuss a UN Security Council draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions but said he hoped the issue could be resolved at the negotiating table. “I think that this Iranian nuclear development issue presents a much greater implication on the situation in the region and globally,” Ban said.


Following Iran’s state-sponsored Holocaust denial conference, Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial has announced it will translate its entire website into Persian and Arabic. It is likely the present Iranian regime will try and block access to the site in Iran. The English website can be found here.

“If Europe missed the opportunity to understand what Hitler was promising, then Europe should believe what the Iranian president is saying now. He means business,” said Tommy (Yosef) Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and former Israeli Justice minister, who now serves as Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council.


Iranian Jew Menashe Ezrapour, who was studying in France when he was rounded up by French police along with French Jews and sent to the camps, has strongly denounced the Iranian conference. Ezrapour, 88, now lives in Los Angeles. He is believed to be one of the only Iranian Jews sent to the camps to survive. According to Holocaust historians, at least one other Iranian Jew survived Dachau. The Iranian ambassador to German-controlled France, Abdol Hossein Sardari, was posthumously honored for saving 200 Iranian Jews living in Paris as well as over 200 non-Iranian Jews whom he issued Iranian passports to in 1942.


On a lighter satirical note, as the final article on this dispatch, I include a Reuters report: “Borat in Iran at Holocaust event.”


Updating the dispatch Jimmy Carter called an anti-Semite live on American TV (Dec. 6, 2006):

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has withdrawn from a discussion at Brandeis University on his controversial new book, “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” after learning that Alan Dershowitz, Harvard University law professor, and author of “The Case for Israel,” would also be on the panel.

Carter said Dershowitz, who has authored numerous books on the Middle East and is a frequent visitor to the region, “knows nothing about the situation.”

“I don’t want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz,” the cowardly ex-President said in Friday’s Boston Globe. “There is no need ... to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine.”

The hypocritical Carter, it seems, while denouncing a largely imaginary “Israeli Apartheid,” does support Palestinian apartheid, though. He hasn’t a word to say about Hamas’s treatment of non-Muslims and women as inferior beings.


Jimmy Carter, while promoting his new book last week, also outraged survivors of the Rwanda genocide, by saying that that Israel’s “persecution” of Palestinians was “even worse... than Rwanda.”

As Alan Dershowitz (article below) notes, in April through July 1994, Hutu militias slaughtered an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and raped tens of thousands. In just around 100 days, the Hutus killed at a rate faster than any previous or subsequent genocide in world history. To compare this to the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, with its relatively low death tolls (around 8,000 civilians have died since 1948), many at the hands of Palestinian suicide bombers and other terrorists, beggars belief, and many are questioning Carter’s true motivations for his present attacks on Israel.

-- Tom Gross



The Road to Tehran
Polite society helped pave the way for Iran’s Holocaust conference.
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
December 16, 2006


“Not acceptable,” says Ban Ki Moon, new Secretary-General of the United Nations. “Repulsive,” say the editors of Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “An insult... to the memory of millions of Jews,” says Hillary Rodham Clinton. Global polite society is in an uproar over the Holocaust conference organized this week in Tehran under the auspices of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Moral denunciation is what reasonable people do – what they must do – when a regime that avows the future extermination of six million Jews in Israel denies the past extermination of six million Jews in Europe. But let’s be frank: Global polite society has been blazing its own merry trail toward this occasion for decades.

The Australian Financial Review is not the Journal of Historical Review, the Holocaust-denying “scholarly” vehicle of some of the Tehran conferees. But in 2002 the AFR thought it fit to print the following by Joseph Wakim, at one point the country’s multicultural affairs commissioner: “Sharon’s war is not a war,” he wrote. “Genocide would be a more accurate description.” In Ireland Tom McGurk, a columnist in the very mainstream Sunday Business Post, noted that “the scenes at Jenin last week looked uncannily like the attack on the Warsaw Jewish ghetto in 1944.” Jose Saramago, Portugal’s Nobel Laureate in Literature, observed after a visit to Ramallah that the Israeli incursion into the city “is a crime that may be compared to Auschwitz.”

Never mind that the total number of Jews “dealt with” in the Warsaw ghetto, according to Nazi commandant Jόrgen Stroop, was 56,065, whereas the number of Palestinians killed in Jenin was no more than 60. Never mind that at the time Mr. Saramago visited Ramallah a total of about 1,500 Palestinians had been killed in the Intifada, whereas Jews were murdered at Auschwitz at a rate of about 2,000 a day. Let’s concede that, for the sake of moral truth, strained comparisons may still serve useful rhetorical purposes. (Jews and Israelis also often make inapt Holocaust and Nazi comparisons.) Let’s concede, too, that the comments cited above amount to criticisms of Israeli policy, nothing more.

Yet once a country’s policies are deemed Nazi-like, it necessarily follows that its leaders are Nazi-like and – if it’s a popularly elected government – so are at least a plurality of its people. “As the dogma of intolerant, belligerent, self-righteous, God-fearing irridentists ... [Zionism] is well adapted to its locality,” wrote Tony Judt, head of New York University’s Remarque Institute, in the New York Review of Books. Ian Buruma of Bard College derided Israel’s “right-wing government supported by poor Oriental Jews and hard-nosed Russians.” And from British MP Gerald Kaufman, this: “If the United States is keen to invade countries that disrupt international standards of order, should not Israel, for example, be considered as a candidate?”

As it happens, Messrs. Judt, Buruma and Kaufman are all Jewish. So let’s also concede that it is not anti-Semitic to oppose Zionism. After all, among the Tehran conferees were rabbis from the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta movement, who, like Mr. Ahmadinejad, actively call for the elimination of the state of Israel.

Yet simply because opposition to Zionism ideologically or Israel politically isn’t necessarily anti-Semitic, it doesn’t therefore follow that being anti-Zionist or anti-Israel are morally acceptable positions. There are more than six million Israelis who presumably wish to live in a sovereign country called Israel. Are their wishes irrelevant? Are their national rights conditional on their behavior – or rather, perceptions of their behavior – and if so, should such conditionality apply to all countries? It also should be obvious that simply because opposition to Zionism does not automatically make one guilty of anti-Semitism, neither does it automatically acquit one of it.

Such nuances, however, seem to go unnoticed by some of Israel’s more elevated critics. Michel Rocard said in 2004 that the creation of the Jewish state was a historic mistake, and that Israel was “an entity that continues to pose a threat to its neighbors until today.” Mr. Rocard is the former Prime Minister of France, an “entity” that itself posed a threat to its neighbors for the better part of its history.

Alternatively, Professors Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, whose paper on “The Israel Lobby” is now being turned into a book, have complained that “anyone who criticises Israel’s actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle Eastern policy... stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-semite.” Maybe. But earlier this week, former Klansman David Duke took the opportunity to tell CNN that he does not hate Jews but merely opposes Israel and Israel’s influence in U.S. politics. He even cited Messrs. Walt and Mearsheimer in his defense. Would they exonerate him of being an anti-Semite?

In fact, anti-Zionism has become for many anti-Semites a cloak of political convenience. But anti-Zionism has also become an ideological vehicle for an anti-Semitism that increasingly feels no need for disguise. In January 2002, the New Statesman magazine had a cover story on “The Kosher Conspiracy.” For art, they had a gold Star of David pointed like a blade at the Union Jack. This wasn’t anti-Zionism. It was anti-Zionism matured into unflinching anti-Semitism. And it was featured on the cover of Britain’s premiere magazine of “progressive” thought.

The scholar Gregory Stanton has observed that genocides happen in eight stages, beginning with classification, symbolization and dehumanization, and ending in extermination and denial. What has happened in Tehran – denial – may seem to have turned that order on its head. It hasn’t. The road to Tehran is a well-traveled one, and among those who denounce it now are some who have already walked some part of it.



Jimmy Carter trivializes Rwandan genocide
By Alan Dershowitz
The Huffington Post
December 8, 2006


Last Tuesday, Jimmy Carter, while promoting his new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, went further in his anti-Israel rhetoric than even most hard-left extremists would go. Asked whether he believed that Israel’s “persecution” of Palestinians was “[e]ven worse ... than a place like Rwanda,” Carter answered, “Yes. I think – yes.”

The comparison is breathtaking and wrong. Here are the facts:

In April through July of 1994, Hutu militias slaughtered an estimated 800,000 Tutsis (and raped thousands) in an attempt to eradicate those people from the country. In just around 100 days, the Hutus killed at a rate faster than any previous or subsequent genocide in world history. During any comparable period, the number of Palestinian casualties has never exceeded the hundreds, and for the most part, they have been either combatants, human shields, or civilians inadvertently killed in efforts to kill combatants. These deaths have come in the course of Israel defending itself against three wars of annihilation in which the Palestinians openly and actively sided with the Arab invaders (1948, 1967, and 1973), two intifadas (both prompted by Israeli peace gestures), and a general war of terrorist attrition against Israeli citizens in the meantime.

The worst that one could accuse Israel of is occasionally employing too much aggression in its defensive tactics – a far cry from the willful genocide of nearly a million people. Further, the Tutsis never had a chance to prevent their slaughter, whereas the Palestinians initiated the violence against Israel and repeatedly refused – and continue to refuse – to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, let alone to agree to any sort of peace agreement, be it the Peel Commission, the UN Partition Plan, or the 2000 Camp David proposals.

The idea of uttering Israel and Rwanda in the same sentence – and citing Israel as the greater offender of human rights – is obscene. It is also deeply insulting to the memory of those Rwandans who were murdered, raped, and mutilated in what could only be characterized as genocide. This is precisely the sort of exaggeration that caused Congressman John Conyers, D-Mich. and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, to take Carter to task for using the word “apartheid” in the title of his book, thereby belittling the horror of real racial discrimination and apartheid. As Conyers said, accusing Israel of apartheid “does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.”

Conyers’s logic should be extended beyond the realm of the rhetorical. There are real world consequences to Carter’s – and the far left’s – obsessive focus on Israel. What happens is that, when those entrusted with identifying and combating human rights violations around the world choose to focus largely or exclusively in on Israel, the real human rights violators, war criminals, and despots get away with murder. Indeed, the Rwandan genocide is a perfect example of what happens when the United Nations refuses to condemn any country but Israel, and the so-called international human rights organizations put so much of their energy and resources into a country with one tenth of one percent of the world’s population (6 million Israelis out of the world’s current population of 6 billion people) while ignoring the real and devastating atrocities happening elsewhere.

Carter’s comparison can be explained in only two ways: extraordinary ignorance or a bigotry so deep-seated that it blinds one to reality. The burden is on him to explain.

To be sure, Carter seems to have backed away from his comparison, just as he always does. He said he doesn’t want to go “back into ancient history about Rwanda.” But this is disingenuous. Rwanda, when invoked in the context of a human rights discussion, stands for genocide, just like apartheid stands for the oppressive discriminatory and segregationist practices in pre-1990 South Africa. Everyone understands these symbols, and Carter recklessly traffics in them, until someone calls him out and he’s forced to back-track. He also claims, despite his book’s title, that there is no apartheid in Israel, only in the Palestinian territories, but that is not the impression the reader gets, nor the one apparently intended by the author’s invocation of this powerful symbol of oppression.

At any rate, the important point is that Carter’s immediate answer - his true instinct - is to accuse Israel of crimes worse than those committed in Rwanda. Carter has become so unhinged in his campaign against the Jewish State that he is now parroting the campus activists who delight in calling Israel a genocidal terrorist state and comparing it to Nazi Germany.

Are these Jimmy Carter’s true colors? Or is he so anxious to sell books that he is prepared to say anything?



Borat in Iran at Holocaust event
December 14, 2006


Intrepid Kazakhstan TV reporter Borat Sagdiyev was in Iran at a Holocaust denial conference, and accordingly unaware that the hit comedy about his exploits garnered two Golden Globe nominations Thursday.

Or so claimed a prepared statement from Sacha Baron Cohen, the British actor who plays the anti-semitic title character in “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

Cohen was a best comic actor nominee, and the film a competitor in the best movie musical or comedy category, Globes organizer the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced.

“I am extremely honored,” said Cohen. “I’m very proud as well for my fellow writers as well as our director Larry Charles, and our producer Jay Roach, and am very thankful for the HFPA’s belief and acknowledgment of our film.”

But then the irrepressible comedian couldn’t resist adding, “I have been trying to let Borat know this great news but for the last four hours both of Kazakhstan’s telephones have been engaged. Eventually, Premier Nazarbayev answered and said he would pass on the message as soon as Borat returned from Iran, where he is guest of honor at the Holocaust Denial Conference.”

Roach and Charles, both first-time Golden Globe nominees, weren’t completely surprised by the recognition.

“Both Jay and I have witnessed these amazing audience reactions to the movie and we felt like we had something very special. This seems like a very organic byproduct of that,” said Charles. “It’s pretty rare for a comedy where people are laughing that hard to not get noticed,” Roach added.

Neither of Sacha Baron Cohen’s partners believe the lawsuits swirling around the film from its unwitting stars have hampered the film’s success. Quite the contrary. “I think the lawsuits are actually fueling the success,” said Charles. “They are silly and absurd and part of the comedy of the film.”

Added Roach, “Sacha is doing something so unusual. He’s a truthfinder and he’s out there doing this in a way that’s controversial. We’re not entirely surprised. He’s been doing it for 10 years so it’s kind of part of the territory.”

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.