Yad Vashem: Iran has made Shoah denial strategic, not academic or intellectual.
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to carry out another genocide aimed at destroying the State of Israel, head of Israel's Holocaust center said Thursday.
The remarks by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev were the most severe public comments to date on the Iranian nuclear threat by the head of Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.
"Iranian President Ahmadinejad has made Holocaust denial part of a strategic agenda; not an academic or intellectual issue. Ahmadinejad wants to lead an Islamic Jihad and to orchestrate another genocide aimed at destroying the State of Israel," Shalev said at a symposium on Holocaust denial held at Yad Vashem for foreign diplomats stationed in Israel.
The conference, 'Holocaust Denial: Paving the Way to Genocide' which was held just days after a meeting of Holocaust deniers in Teheran, was attended by ambassadors and representatives from 40 countries.
"If Europe missed the opportunity to understand what Hitler was promising, then Europe should believe what the Iranian President is saying now. He means business," said Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and former Justice Minister who serves as the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council.
"The entire Judeo-Christian tradition is in a battle for survival against Radical Islam," he added.
Ahmadinejad, who has dismissed the Holocaust as a "myth," has repeatedly called for the destruction of the State of Israel.
Aimed at combating growing Holocaust denial, Yad Vashem announced that it would be translating its web site into Arabic and Farsi.
About 20,000 people from Muslim countries, including Iran, visit the Yad Vashem website every year, Shalev said.
"Not only do we oppose the message coming out of Teheran, but we condemn it as well." said Ambassador of Cameroon Henri Etoundi Essomba, who is serving as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Israel.
"I would like to express our solidarity with Israel in its legitimate fight against the dangerous ideologies expressed by the Teheran leadership," he added.
Ambassadors and representatives from the United States, Uzbekistan, Austria, Uruguay, Ireland, El Salvador, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Belgium, Belarus, Hungary, Greece, Moldova, Norway, Czech Republic, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cameroon, Croatia, Sweden, Italy, Angola, Georgia, Germany, the EU, Ivory Coast, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Slovakia, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Panama, France, Romania and Russia attended the event.
"I have not been able to sleep for the past few days," Holocaust survivor Rita Weiss told the crowd of diplomats.
"48 members of my family were murdered in Auschwitz during the first week of June 1944, including my mother, my father, and my brother. I am the only one who survived and managed to emerge alive, an orphan for my whole life. I cannot ever recover from this. I ask you, diplomatic representatives, did all my family just disappear? They were murdered. They have no graves, no one buried them; they became smoke and ashes," she said.
"We didn't believe Hitler when he said he would destroy the Jews, but he did it, he put it into practice. President Ahmadinejad has threatened and I believe him, I fear him."
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