No denying it

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WHAT’S THE perfect way to top off a Holocaust denial conference featuring input from the likes of such scholars as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke? Why, calling for Israel’s obliteration, of course.

Iran wrapped its two-day gathering of neo-Nazis, hard-line racists and half-baked historians with a rousing speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday. The man who once called the murder of 6 million European Jews a “myth” cheerfully told delegates from 30 countries that Israel’s days were numbered.

“As the Soviet Union disappeared, the Zionist regime will also vanish and humanity will be liberated,” Ahmadinejad predicted. Historical analogies aren’t his strong suit.


Before the summit, Iranian officials vowed that if the conference, using its doubtlessly rigorous scientific inquiry, should determine that the Holocaust indeed occurred, then Iran would at long last accept it as historical fact. We are not holding our breath.

Although it’s tempting to shrug off a gathering of fourth-rate intellects who seethe with contempt even for each other (did Duke discuss his theories about white racial superiority?), the conference illustrated a present and growing danger to the international community: Iran is on the path to becoming a nuclear power. Any promise to “remove” its neighbors from the map must be taken seriously.

Ahmadinejad’s rejection of the thousands of written and oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors, reams of scholarship, films, photographs, diaries and detailed Nazi archives has nothing to do with evidentiary standards and everything to do with playing to the extremists in his regional audience. To Ahmadinejad, attacking the legitimacy of the Holocaust allows him to attack the legitimacy of Israel, which was created by the United Nations as a result of the Holocaust. If the first act didn’t happen, then the second act wasn’t necessary.

The Iranian president wrapped his hateful nonsense in the false mantle of free speech. Conference delegates, he said, were breaking free from the powerful opposition to critiquing the Holocaust narrative and finally being allowed to say what they pleased.

Except for Khaled Mahameed, an Israeli Arab who tried to attend the conference. Mahameed runs a Holocaust museum in Nazareth geared to Arab audiences and had planned to debate the deniers. But when he tried to get a visa, Iran turned him down.

For Ahmadinejad, there is still at least one powerful taboo: the truth