Dr. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, accused the German Social Democratic Party think tank of appeasing an Iranian Holocaust denial institute that works with the global Nazi movement.
“It is incomprehensible how the Friedrich Ebert Foundation [FES] could invite a person that works for an organization that organized a Holocaust denial conference,” Zuroff told The Jerusalem Post. “Given the abysmal record of the Iranian regime when it comes to human rights, and its openly declared threats to carry out genocide against the State of Israel, how can an ostensibly respected organization give legitimacy to such a guest in Germany?”
Zuroff noted that “German history should have taught people at FES that attempts to appease fanatics never obtain the desired results.”
The Ebert Foundation on May 14 hosted Saeed Khatibzadeh, who represents the think tank of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), which organized the 2006 Holocaust denial conference in Tehran.
The 2006 event – “The International Conference On Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision” – featured a who’s who of global and Iranian Holocaust deniers and Nazis.
The May 14 event was titled “Deal or No Deal: One year after the US withdrawal from the atomic agreement.”
In a press query, the Post asked Andrea Nahles, the general secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), whether she had learned the wrong lessons from the Holocaust. She declined to respond. Kurt Beck, the chairman of the FES, refused to answer Post queries.
On Monday, Germany’s largest circulation paper, Bild, reported that Christoph Heubner, executive vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee, is appalled by the event, saying: “For Holocaust survivors, this is a scandal! Especially from an institution of social democracy: they perceive such an attitude as a breach of trust.”
The German NGO Stop the Bomb organized a spontaneous protest against the FES event on Tuesday.
Stop the Bomb had demanded the cancellation of the event. The campaign’s spokeswoman Ulrike Becker said: “A few days after the Iran-backed terrorist groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas attacked Israel with more than 700 missiles, the FES is courting the Iranian regime, which is not only threatening Israel with destruction, but spreads terror in neighboring countries in supporting Shi’ite militias. The Iranian regime also plans and carries out terrorist attacks in Europe. The planned FES conference is a slap in the face for all democrats. The FES should focus on its core values of freedom, justice and solidarity and support the social and political struggles of women, trade unionists and other opposition groups fighting for freedom in Iran.”
Stop the Bomb wrote: “At the end of April, the FES disinvited the German-Israeli author Chaim Noll to a planned event. The FES justified the disinvitation with Noll’s vehement criticism of German cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”
Becker added: “The fact that the Ebert Foundation is canceling an event with a critic of Germany’s Iran policy, and sticks to an event with IPIS, underlines that the FES, with its courting of the antisemitic Iranian regime, embarks on a strategy of political-moral twilight.”
According to a Bild report, Iranian dissidents questioned why Iran’s massive human rights violation record was not a topic for the event. Nils Schmid, the foreign policy spokesman of the SPD who spoke at the event, said Germany’s government must remain in communication with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Post asked the young socialist organizations (Jusos) of the SPD in Berlin and the national group if they had learned the wrong lessons from the Holocaust, since they refused to criticize the Ebert event. Arne Zillmer of Jusos Berlin refused to comment. Leonard von Galen of the national office of Jusos refused to comment.
US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell wrote to the Post by email on Monday: “IPIS, the Iranian MFA think tank, hosted a Holocaust denial conference in 2006. Both Germany and the United States condemned the event. Nobody from this group should be given a platform.”
In February, led by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the German foreign ministry celebrated at the Iranian Embassy in Berlin the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which called for the destruction of the Jewish state. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sent a February telegram to Iran’s regime congratulating the mullahs on their revolution.