(photo credit: AP [file])
The head of the Iranian Jewish community, Harun Yeshayai, protested on Sunday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claims that the Holocaust was a myth created to help Israel.
In a letter to Ahmadinejad, Yeshayai asked how it was possible to ignore all the evidence of the massacre and expulsion of the Jews of Europe in World War II. He added that Ahmadinejad's comments caused concern among the Jewish community in Iran.
In December, Speaking to thousands of people in the southeastern city of Zahedan, Ahmadinejad said: "Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets."
Ahmadinejad said it was the Europeans who committed crimes against the Jews and they, the United States or Canada, should give part of their land to the Jews to establish a state.
"If [the Europeans] committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?" Ahmadinejad asked rhetorically. "You have to pay the compensation yourself. This is our proposal: give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them (Jews) so that the Jews can establish their country."
Similar statements were made by the Iranian president at an Islamic conference in Teheran that was attended by Khaled Mashaal, Hamas's political leader, in early December.
The next day, Ahmadinejad spoke on Iranian television, doubting the Nazi destruction of European Jewry during World War II. The television did not air the controversial remarks, but his words were published on Iranian state television's Web site.
In October, Ahmadinejad provoked an international outcry when he called Israel a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map." Last week, he suggested that Israel should be transferred to Europe, drawing further condemnation.
In addition, the Holocaust figured prominently in the Iranian response to the Danish cartoon controversy. Last week, the Associated French Press reported that Iran's biggest-selling newspaper chose to tackle the West's ideals of "freedom of expression" by launching a competition to find the 12 "best" cartoons about the Holocaust.
Farid Mortazavi, graphics editor for Tehran's Hamshahri newspaper, said that the deliberately inflammatory contest would test out how committed Europeans were to the concept freedom of expression.
"The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons," he said.