Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Iran 'is making lunacy official policy'

Spiegel - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has followed up his calls for the destruction of Israel with plans to host a conference questioning the validity of the Holocaust. SPIEGEL ONLINE interviewed German Holocaust historian Götz Aly to discuss how anti-Semitism is becoming official Iranian state policy.

Spiegel Online: The organizers of the conference want to invite, not just representatives of the "conventional view of the Holocaust," but also those who doubt or deny that it happened, such as the revisionists Horst Mahler, Robert Faurisson from France and Israel Shamir, who is an Israeli of Russian origin.

Aly: The planned conference seems to me to demonstrate considerable political stubbornness. It doesn't have anything to do with academic historical research. A man like Mahler doesn't understand the first thing about the topic. It's just not good enough to be a professional know-it-all, and spread resentment. We will certainly not learn anything new about the Holocaust at this conference.

...Spiegel Online: How do you explain the heartlessness and brutality needed to aspire to the destruction of a country?

Aly: That is something which in Germany we know a fair bit about. Creating a universal enemy can serve as a politically uniting force for a country. This is particularly the case for states which are weak, badly led, highly corrupt and don't properly exploit their own economic opportunities. The concept of the enemy allows mass incitement to hatred to provide a diversion from the forces of modern life -- which is constantly demanding more specialization within society as well as greater flexibility.

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