Iran bars Israeli Arab from Shoah forum

Yad Vashem: Iran trying to 'paint its extremist agenda with a scholarly brush.'

ahmadinejad rally 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
ahmadinejad rally 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
An Israeli Arab lawyer who has inaugurated an exhibition about the Holocaust in his Nazareth office as part of a crusade to teach the Arab world that the Holocaust did indeed happen has been barred by the Iranian government from attending this week's controversial Holocaust conference in Teheran, he said Sunday. Khaled Muhammad, 44, was denied a visa to Iran to attend the two-day event, which has been widely criticized by the West for Holocaust denial, after he sent a copy of his Israeli passport to the Iranian Embassy in Amman, he said. Muhammad added that the Iranian Institute, which has repeatedly invited him to attend the event in the past, evidently thinking he was a Palestinian, cut off all contact with him after he sent in a copy of his Israeli passport for visa purposes. "This is a political decision," he said. Muhammad, who has 80 pictures of the Holocaust hanging in his office alongside three pictures of Palestinian suffering from the 1948 War of Independence, said he had planned to go to the controversial event to debate the Holocaust-deniers over the extermination of six million Jews during World War II. Meanwhile, Yad Vashem on Sunday voiced renewed alarm over Iran's continued Holocaust denial, lambasting the Islamic Republic's latest attempt to "paint its extremist agenda with a scholarly brush." "The Iranian government's pseudo-academic conference... is an effort to mainstream Holocaust denial and must be unequivocally rejected," Israel's Holocaust center said in a statement. Yad Vashem will host a seminar on Thursday for the diplomatic corps stationed in Israel entitled "Holocaust Denial: Paving the Way to Genocide." "There is only one reason for this conference, and that is to spread anti-Semitic propaganda and to besmirch the Jewish people and the State of Israel," said Nazi hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Israel office of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center. He noted that none of the individuals invited to speak at the event have any expertise whatsoever regarding the Holocaust, and the only reason they were invited to speak was because of their "relentless efforts" to attack Judaism, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Zuroff added that it was particularly discouraging and outrageous that extremist Jews from the virulent anti-Zionist sect Natorei Karta were participating in the event. The US has called the conference, which will be attended by dozens of Holocaust deniers from around the world, "disgraceful." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a myth. He has also repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Earlier this year, Iran held an international exhibition of Holocaust cartoons in Teheran. The cartoon fair was initiated by Iran "as a test of western tolerance" in response to last year's controversial caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, which sparked worldwide Muslim outrage and a wave of violence.