When Mr. Ahmadinejad talked about the "myth" of Holocaust for the first time, some dismissed it as political naiveté. But he did it again, and again! He obviously, and regrettably, gets political mileage out of it. It would be interesting to speculate what kind of political mileage he gets. Is it an attempt to rally his troops in a bitter internal fighting within the "Conservatives?" Is he trying to prove he is a "follower of Imam [Khomeini]?" by repeating harsh slogans of the early years of Islamic Republic? Is he throwing a monkey ranch in to the negotiations about Iran's nuclear plans? Is he trying to divert attentions from the disappointing few months of his administration? There are many reasons that why is he coming back with this issue. That is not important. What to do about these remarks is important.
Obviously his statements should, and is being, condemned. But that is not enough. To sum up, he is making two points: First; Holocaust is a myth. Second, even if it has happened, it is European's ("West") problem. Why Holocaust? Because, again regrettably, there is a lack of knowledge about Holocaust among Iranians that is not confined to Ahmadinejad's supporters alone. They don't necessarily deny it. They have not been interested to learn more about it. To the extent that Holocaust has been introduced to the general public in Iran, it has been mainly by Ahmadinejad types, and in order to show dominance of Zionists controlled "Western" media. By denying Holocaust, among other things, he adds to his "anti-Western" credentials.
Scholars and academicians, particularly of Iranian decent, are responsible to provide the general public with the massive body of documentary evidence about Holocaust. Iranians should not think it is not related to them. Indeed, Mr. Ahmadinejad, no doubt unintentionally, has facilitated this by making Holocaust an issue among Iranians. There are many who want to know the truth about it. This is an opportunity to fulfill this gap.
The second point he made is about "European" nature of the problem. This, too, has its own roots and resonates with many in Iran, and the region. Many who believe that Holocaust is real, point out to the plight of Palestinians, particularly the refugees, as another aspect of the issue that needs more attention. It is our responsibility to remind "Europeans" of this plight. It is not enough for Europeans to acknowledge their past anti-Semitism. They need to go beyond that and do things to compensate for some of the damages caused by this ant-Semitism. More active participation in resolving Palestinian- Israelis differences is one of the better ways to achieve this goal. Helping millions of Palestinian refugees is the area that Europeans can be most helpful.
About the author: The author is professor of political economy at Stockton College.
... Payvand News - 12/20/05 ... --