Genocide incited, Genocide denied
In November, scholars and experts met in Berlin to discuss racism, genocide and antisemitism. In December, in Teheran, the same subject matter was on the table, but the discussants were cut from very different cloth.
|Holocaust denial on display in Teheran|
The meeting on “Best Practices in Combating Anti-Semitism” convened in November at the Bundestag. It was part of a multi-faceted process, by the European and North American states which comprise the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to deal with the problems of antisemitism, xenophobia and racism.
Amongst the papers presented was a significant document drafted by Professor Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister and Attorney-General of Canada, and Dr. Charles Small, Director of the Yale Initiative on the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism.
“The Berlin Declaration on the Incitement to Genocide by the Regime of Iran” noted that the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide includes “the prohibition against direct and public incitement to commit genocide”, and that the Convention specifically mentions “constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals” as those who should be punished. It recommended “the OSCE, or any of its member states, refer to the United Nations Security Council the situation of the genocidal criminality, under Article Three (c) of the Genocide Convention, of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and other former and present members of the Iranian Government, for further reference to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for investigation”.
The authors noted that the Iranian leadership had made “clear and persistent calls” for the “annihilation” of Israel, and included documentation from a wide variety of sources.
In the course of the genocidal calls noted in the Berlin Declaration, some common themes emerged.
One was the obscene, if not insane, claim that “the Zionists control” Europe. Another was that Jews are “blood-thirsty savages” who are not really “human beings”. But above all of these what emerged was a near-obsession with the Nazi genocide of Jews.
From his December 2005 statement in Mecca, “Some European countries insisted on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces…we don’t accept this claim”, through the claim the Europeans “have created a myth in the name of the Holocaust”, in an interview in, of all places, Germany’s Der Spiegel, Ahmadinejad has been consistent.
Which brings us to the second meeting – the Islamic Republic of Iran’s International Conference: “Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision”.
While the Nazi genocide is one of the most widely recounted, studied and analysed historical events, the Iranians failed to attract even one person with serious historical credentials.
From Australia, the trio of Holocaust deniers was led by Fredrick Toben (called “Mr. Toben Feredrick” by the New York Times), who repeated statements already determined to be in breach of Australia’s anti-racism laws, He was accompanied by long-time colleagues Mohammed Hegazi and Richard Krege.
Toben spoke on a panel with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, with his session preceded by one including representatives of the bizarre Neturei Karta sect.
Invited “experts” included some with criminal records for antisemitic activities, anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists and a handful of followers happy for a holiday at the expense of the repressed and oppressed Iranian people.
As one would hope, but not always expect, condemnation of Iran for convening the gathering has come from prime ministers, presidents, secretaries-general and many others in positions of responsibility and moral authority.
However, condemnation of this conference should be anything but the end of the matter. The Teheran talkfest is not only a symptom of contemptuous and poisonous antisemitism but should not be separated from the leadership’s genocidal mind-set.
The conference in Teheran is part of the compelling argument for urgent, international action against the leadership of the world’s most dangerous regime.