"Dear Yad Vashem, we just wanted to say thanks for the good information. I am an Iranian, but I love Israel and the Jewish nation, and wish the best for them, unlike our crazy President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad." "Your site uses very simple and unbiased language to describe a very disturbing and horrific chapter of human history, and I am sure everyone who visits it will come away with a firm belief that we must all work hard, shoulder to shoulder to stop the same happening to our children and future generations. Sincerely, Ahmad."
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These are just two of the comments posted by Iranians on the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial's Farsi-language Internet mini-site in the five days since it was launched to raise awareness in Iran about the Holocaust.
Since the Persian site went on-line late Thursday night, some 11,000 hits have been recorded, including 2,242 visits from Iran. That figure is just 1,000 hits short of the total number of visits the Yad Vashem Web site received from Iranians in the whole of 2006.
Yad Vashem spokeswoman Estee Yaari said Tuesday evening that none of the Farsi-language posts translated so far had been negative.
"Every year, nearly 20,000 people from Muslim countries, including Iran, visit the Yad Vashem Web site," Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem's chairman, said earlier Tuesday.
"We believe that making credible, comprehensive information about the Holocaust available to Persian speakers can contribute to the fight against Holocaust denial," Shalev added. It was especially important today to reach out to Muslim countries regarding Holocaust awareness, he said, given Ahmadinejad's recent Holocaust-denial conference in Teheran.
The Farsi Web site details, in 20 chronological chapters, the period from the rise of the Nazis in 1925 to the fall of Berlin in 1945, as well as offering pictures, information on post-war trials including Nuremburg, and poems written by victims of the Holocaust such as Abramek Koplowicz. The site was translated into Farsi by Menashe Amir, the veteran Israel Radio Farsi broadcaster, whose programs are widely listened to on short-wave in Iran.
The response to the Farsi mini-site has been very positive, said Shalev. Iranians (some of them Jewish), Iranian exiles and others have posted responses expressing remorse, sympathy and understanding. Many of the respondents stress that Ahmadinejad, in his Holocaust denial, does not speak for the Iranian people, and brand his comments inappropriate, even hateful, and not reflective of the Persian culture or people.
"The world should not allow people such as Ahmadinejad to fulfill their evil intentions. As an Iranian, I feel ashamed of his comments and am quite certain the people of my country feel the same way," writes a man identifying himself as K.R. "I think the Farsi section of this Web site can have a major effect on the understanding of people in Iran toward a situation that is historically distorted, and in Iran, we don't have much information about WWII and the Holocaust."
Paryam, another respondent, praises Yad Vashem, "as a proud Iranian," for "the effort put forth by your respectful organization in taking the time to create a Farsi language Web site to increase public knowledge about the Holocaust."
He encourages more organizations to provide Iran with the empirical knowledge needed to combat Holocaust revisionism and expurgation, and notes that "the tyrants and the Mullahs in Iran should realize the power of the Internet is far beyond their censors.
Paryam urges his own president to not only visit the Web site - at www.yadvashem.org - but to tour Yad Vashem itself and get a first-hand look at the destruction inciting genocide can produce.