Par Ed Morgan
This week's so-called Holocaust conference in Tehran had nothing to do with seeking historical truth and everything to do with undermining what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the radical mullahs, whose views he represents, perceive to be the basis of Israel's claim to statehood.
Their perverted lie that the Holocaust never happened negates the reality of the proven facts that the Nazis and their collaborators carried out the mass murder of millions of Jewish men, women and children. It is also a calculated attempt to de-legitimize the state of Israel, the fulfillment of the Jewish people's centuries-old struggle to re-establish their sovereign presence in their ancestral homeland.
Ahmadijenad and his cohorts fail to understand that Israel is not the result of the Holocaust but, rather, that had there been an Israel in the 1930s and 1940s, there would have been no Holocaust. It is indeed in this capacity as a rescuer of threatened Jewish communities that Israel has welcomed, for example, the majority of the 900,000 Jews that Arab countries have been expelled or induced to leave their ancient homelands.
The Iranian mullah-ocracy's denial of the Nazi genocide lays the foundation, in its view, for the fulfillment of the repeated genocidal call it has issued for the destruction of Israel, in direct violation of the Genocide Convention and the Charter of the United Nations. It is this context that best explains why Iran has become the leading state sponsor of international terrorism, perhaps most infamously as the patron of Hezbollah.
Argentine prosecutors have also recently confirmed that the fingerprints of Ahmadijenad's predecessors are all over the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. And one must never forget the state-sanctioned murder of Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi.
Iran's travesty of a conference used the Holocaust as a weapon, but people of good conscience saw it for what it truly was - anti-Semitism, plain and simple. That is why the nations of the civilized world have condemned it. That is also why students at Tehran University and many other Iranians protested against it, in a remarkable demonstration of courage and commitment to truth in a country where criticism of the government can be a death warrant.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper eloquently and forcefully expressed outrage over the gathering on behalf of all Canadians. His government, one week before the conference, also found an excellent antidote: Canada's participation, for the first time, in a meeting of the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, held in Budapest. The task force of governments and NGO representatives, aims to inspire political and social support for Holocaust education, remembrance and research on a global level.
In examining these issues, it is well to recall the historical truism that the Holocaust did not begin with Auschwitz. It began with words and actions that went unopposed and which therefore emboldened Nazi tyrants to up the ante and impose increasingly severe and restrictive laws and measures against the Jewish population These bore ever more lethal consequences for their victims.
Adolf Hitler, in his manifesto Mein Kampf, outlined exactly what he planned to do once he seized power. We should similarly harbour no illusions about Ahmadinejad and his regime, especially as it blatantly disregards monitoring and regulation in its quest for nuclear capability and threatens regional stability and international peace and security. Historical experience tells us that we appease tyrants at our peril.
While the scope, magnitude and mechanized bureaucratic implementation of the Holocaust make it unique, its lessons and messages are universal. As we ponder the horrors of Bosnia and Rwanda, and today the killing fields of Darfur, we must recommit ourselves to making sure that "never again" is not an empty slogan but an organizing metaphor for the protection and enhancement of freedom, human rights and dignity for all peoples.
And we must work together to ensure that 60 years from now, no country like today's Iran will hold a sham conference to debate whether these genocides actually occurred.
Ed Morgan is the national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress and a professor of international law at the University of Toronto.
The holocaust conference in Tehran has nothing to do with history, and everything to do with attacking Israel's claim to statehood
Conférence sur l'Holocauste
Par Ed Morgan