Sunday, December 17, 2006

Other victims of Holocaust denial

Mahmoud Al-Safadi is a former Palestinian militant who was recently freed from an Israeli jail after 18 years for throwing Molotov cocktails during a 1988 uprising. In an Open letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he questions the Iranian President's stance on Holocaust and calls it a "great disservice to popular struggles the world over." Another Palestinian, Khaled Mahamid, a lawyer who has opened the first Arab Holocaust museum in his office in Nazareth, believing it is essential for the Arab world to acknowledge and understand the Holocaust if it is ever to make peace with Israel, was denied visa by Iranian embassy in Jordan to attend the conference because as he himself professed, he intended to face the Holocaust deniers and prove to them that they should recognize the Holocaust.

So much for Iranian freedom of speech.

Here are some excerpts from Al-Safadi's letter, published on December 6:

...I am furious about your insistence on claiming that the Holocaust never took place and about your doubts about the number of Jews who were murdered in the extermination and concentration camps, organized massacres, and gas chambers, consequently denying the universal historical significance of the Nazi period.

Allow me to say, Mr. President, with all due respect to you, that you made these statements without really knowing the Nazi industry of death. To have read the works of some deniers seems to be enough for you -- a little like a man who shouts above a well and hears only the echo of his own voice. I believe that a man in your position should not make such an enormous error, because it could be turned against him and, worse still, his people.

...Whatever the number of victims -- Jewish and non-Jewish -- the crime is monumental. Any attempt to deny it deprives the denier of his own humanity and sends him immediately to the side of torturers. Whoever denies the fact that this human disaster really took place should not be astonished that others deny the sufferings and persecutions inflicted on his own people by tyrannical leaders or foreign occupiers.

...Perhaps you think that the act of denying the Holocaust places you at the vanguard of the Muslim world and that this refusal constitutes a useful tool in the combat against American imperialism and Western hegemony. By doing so, you actually do great disservice to popular struggles the world over...At worst, you discourage and weaken the political, social, and intellectual forces who, in Europe and in the United States, reject the policy of confrontation and war carried out by George Bush, but are forced to conclude that you, too, jeopardize the world by your declarations denying the genocide and by your nuclear program.