Jan. 27 was the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (1945). It was also U.N.-sponsored International Holocaust Commemoration Day.
Poland, as well as other European countries joined in support of a U.N. resolution, initiated by the United States, which “condemns without reservation any denial of the Holocaust” and urges U.N. member states “unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event.”
The U.S. Acting Ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro D. Wolff said “those who would deny the Holocaust — and, sadly, there are some who do — reveal not only their ignorance, but their moral failure as well.”
In a recent lecture, the newly elected U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, in a veiled reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people. … We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world.”
Heeding his call, 103 countries co-sponsored the resolution, which passed by consensus and without a vote. The Holocaust was one of the defining events of the last century. It should be one of its most important lessons.
But who is refusing to learn from the mass slaughter? Who voiced objections to the U.N. resolution and who opposed it? Those who do not wish to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Unsurprisingly, Iran made a strong statement against the resolution, focusing instead on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the treatment of the Palestinians. None of the Arab nations, and most Muslim countries refused to co-sponsor.
This is a chilling fact. It says a great deal not just about the Iranian state of mind, but of its intentions. By supporting Holocaust denial Tehran is legitimizing it — and paving the way to a new Holocaust.
The deafening silence of the Arab states, even though some, like Egypt and Jordan, are formally at peace with Israel, as well as the stance of nuclear-armed Pakistan, makes one wonder how deep both denial of history and hatred of the Jews go.
Even Kofi Annan, hardly a friend of Israel, stated at the end of his tenure that “the [Iranian] rhetoric implies a refusal to concede the very legitimacy of Israel’s existence, let alone the validity of its security concerns. … Today Israelis are often confronted with words and action that seem to confirm their fear that the goal of their adversaries is to extinguish their existence as a state and as a people.”
The United States and Israel have warned that Iran’s stance on the Holocaust— and its president’s assertions that Israel should be wiped off the map — are in direct violation of the U.N. Charter and should be viewed with extreme concern in light of its defiant development of nuclear capabilities.
“While the nations of the world gather here… with the intent of never again allowing genocide, a member of this assembly is acquiring the capabilities of carrying out its own,” said Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s nuclear arms race and calls to destroy Israel are connected by an umbilical cord to hatred. The nexus between the Holocaust and anti-Western and anti-Semitic Islamist ideology are well-known and well-documented. Twentieth century Muslim radicals were Adolf Hitler’s willing accomplices. Leading among them was the Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin Al Housseini, Yasser Arafat’s relative and mentor.
At the Nurenberg trials of the Nazi leadership, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy Dieter Wisliceny testified that “The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and [SS Chief Heinrich] Himmler in the execution of this plan. … He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him to say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”
After the war, the Mufti was the guest of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the founder of which, Hassan al-Banna, was an admirer of Hitler. Egypt gave refuge to Nazi propaganda experts and missile scientists, while Syria harbored SS brass.
The chief ideologist of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, though an exchange student in Colorado, came to passionately hate the United States, primarily because of the freedoms American women enjoy. He refined the anti-Western and anti-American trajectory of the Brotherhood, which later spawned even more extremist offshoots, such as Ayman al-Zawahri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the constituent part of al Qaeda. Hamas, which is bent on destroying Israel, is also an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qutb is still a guiding light among Islamist radicals.
In Iran, Nazi sympathies ran deep even before World War II, fuelled by hatred of the British Empire. Reza Pahlavi, the father of the last shah, renamed Persia Iran (meaning “Aryan” in Farsi) to signal his political sympathy with the Nazi “Arian” ideology.
Today Iran is a worldwide center of Holocaust denial. This did not start with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s December 2006 conference for Holocaust deniers, nor did it begin with Iran’s macabre Holocaust cartoon competition, which has now been declared an annual event. Since 2000, Iran has embraced Holocaust deniers Juergen Graf, Wolfgang Froehlich, David Duke and Roger Garaudy, who claim the Holocaust was a myth.
The refusal of Iran and Arab countries to co-sponsor the U.N. Holocaust commemoration resolution, their rejection of Holocaust education, and the Iranian nuclear arms and ballistic missile program are signs of an approaching danger.
The implied embrace of the ideology and politics of hatred that brought about the Holocaust does not threaten Israel alone. Radical Islamism, which embraces Holocaust denial, Jew hatred and denial of Israel’s right to exist, also vehemently denies Western civilization its right to exist. It is a clear and present danger to world peace. It is laudable that the Holocaust is commemorated at the U.N. But to preserve peace, U.N. members need to do much more than adopt nonbinding resolutions.
Ariel Cohen is senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.