Whatever the Findings at Iran’s Holocaust Conference, It Works Politically for Ahmadinejad





Mr. Cravatts, Ph.D., a lecturer at Boston University, Babson College, and Emmanuel College, writes frequently on law, religion, social policy, business, and housing development.

In the same week that the Iraq Study Group released its own report to determine how history had unraveled internecine horror in Iraq, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kicked off his own “fact finding” mission, a two-day conference called "Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision," with the stated intent of determining, once and for all, the nature and extent, if any at all, of one of the most monstrous crimes of the twentieth century. Over sixty “researchers and intellectuals” from some thirty countries were expected to attend the hate fest.

Of course, Holocaust denial, wherever it rears its perverse head, is a puzzling oddity in historical research. Western deniers are more easily revealed for what they are and what their denial hopes to achieve: crypto or blatant anti-Semites revising history to exculpate Nazism and German socialism from its most damming aspect—genocide. They attempt this by minimizing and trivializing the numbers of Jews they believe were murdered at the hands of the Nazis, repeating the accusation that Zionism manipulated and revised history by ‘inventing’ the Shoah, suggesting that Jewish control of the media has and continues to promulgate the myth of the Holocaust to the ill-informed world; and accusing that this oft-repeated story of perpetual victimization was the false moral premise upon which the State of Israel was justified and created.

Arab Holocaust denial has been growing in incidence, too, as it has proven to be an effective tool for satisfying some of the same motives of deniers in America and Europe—namely, further insulting the memory of human tragedy, and torturing both the living and the perished by second-guessing the extent, nature, or even certitude of the Final Solution. But where traditional deniers have stopped there—even as they condemn the Jews in general for perpetrating a great lie for the purpose of evoking the world’s continued sympathy and moral and financial support—the Arab world has taken this revisionist effort to another level: accusing Zionism of creating and perpetuating the Holocaust lie for the specific purpose of justifying Israel’s creation and the subsequent subjugation, persecution, and “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians.

Thus, the Holocaust “myth” for Arabs serves a politically-healing purpose that no Western denier has needed to seek. Arabs, who do not care to mend the reputation of the Third Reich or defend its other nationalistic achievements by denying its role in the extermination of European Jewry, do want the reality, the actual happening of the Holocaust, to be proven false, if for no other reason than it at once diminishes most of Israel’s moral capital by eliminating once and for all the cataclysmic social and political event that led the world to accept and endorse the creation of the Jewish State. It is also a politically-expedient accomplishment to position the Palestinians as the ultimate victims among victimized peoples, and this is much easier without the inexpressible evil of the Holocaust as core element of Israel’s tragic heritage. “After all, wrote Jonathan Eric Lewis, “if Zionism manufactured the lie of the Holocaust, then the Arab world, in exposing the lie, can view itself as the double victim of European imperialism and Zionist propaganda about European history.”

If the victim status of Israel—and by extension, all Jews—can be diminished by exposing the lie of the Holocaust, the Palestinian becomes the more aggrieved victim, a people victimized by former victims, the Jews, who spread the lie of their own suffering for material ends. Thus, for Ahmadinejad and other deniers, “denying the atrocity,” wrote Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman, “denies any moral authority to victims of the atrocity.” It is not without irony, of course, that while the Arab world, not to mention Israel-haters in the West, want to rob Jews of the piece of dismal history that brought about the extermination of six million of their brethren, they are eager to repeat regularly the vile comparison they draw between the perceived behavior and shared values of the Zionist state and the Nazi regime.

Ahmadinejad, and his like-minded brethren in the Arab world, has a secondary motive for resenting an event like the Holocaust, which has conferred on Israel victim status and, initially at least, gained the world’s sympathy. If he can point to a great lie that led to Israel’s creation, if he can ascribe to Israel a conspiratorial and exploitive deception that garnered the world’s financial and moral support for the “Zionist regime,” he can also dismiss the successes of the democratic Israeli state and help explain why Iran’s own society and culture have languished in comparison—due to Jewish wile and duplicity.  According to Mr. Lewis, Ahmadinejad’s familiar bluster, his effort in hosting a conference, and his repeated public exhortations to “wipe Israel off the map,” help to create a smokescreen that shields the political and social weaknesses of his own regime from careful evaluation. “This is where Holocaust denial fits in,” Lewis wrote, “for it both explains Zionism's success and provides the Arab world with a means to deny any responsibility for the myriad failures that engulf its societies.”

Another reason why Holocaust denial serves well the purposes of Jew hatred is probably the same source of inspiration that inspired August’s Iranian cartoon contest in which over 200 international cartoonists mocked the Holocaust, and which underlies criticism of Israel frequently heard from Israel bashers when they excoriate Zionism by saying it is equivalent to Nazism.

Whether the critic believes that the Holocaust actually took place or not, in this instance, is immaterial; more important for these Jew-loathers is slandering and causing hurt to people, in the most cruel and hateful way, by comparing them to, and accusing them of having turned in to, a regime which practices genocide and engages in inhuman barbarism—just like the Nazis did. How better to cause the greatest hurt and to speak the gravest criticism than to deny or minimize on one hand that the Nazi atrocities and slaughter ever took place, and then to suggest, that if they did, the people reborn of that fire have descended morally to the same moral level as their former tormenters? This behavior, wrote P. David Hornick, is perhaps “motivated by aggression toward the victims of Hitler’s Holocaust, seeking both to ‘murder’ them a second time by denying their deaths while also mocking those deaths in cartoons and the like.”

"Anti-Semitism," wrote Stephen Eric Bronner, author of the engaging book A Rumor About The Jews, "is the stupid answer to a serious question: How does history operate behind our backs?" For some in the Arab world, anti-Semitism—and, by extension, Israel hatred—is still the stupid answer for why what goes wrong with the world does go wrong. It is a world view that creates conspiracies as a way of explaining the unfolding of historical events; it is a pessimistic and frantic outlook, characterized in 1964 by historian Richard Hofstadter as "the paranoid style" of politics, which shifts responsibility from the self to sinister, omnipotent others—typically and historically the Jews.

The overarching objective of Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust conference, and of deniers in general, is at base to expose this vast conspiracy, that only they see, once and for all, to show how, in a world-wide fraud perpetrated over the course of some 60 years, the Zionists have duped the world with a historical hoax of such perfidy that it has helped create an immoral state of Israel at the expense of Arab states and the Palestinian people. They yearn to peel away Jewish deceit and rewrite their own history—this time with themselves, not Jews, as the victims, and no longer made to pay the price of Nazism’s treachery by having to define themselves in the mirror of another people’s own tragic history.

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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

Prtofessor Cravatts final paragraph:

"The overarching objective of Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust conference, and of deniers in general, is at base to expose this vast conspiracy, that only they see, once and for all, to show how, in a world-wide fraud perpetrated over the course of some 60 years, the Zionists have duped the world with a historical hoax of such perfidy that it has helped create an immoral state of Israel at the expense of Arab states and the Palestinian people. They yearn to peel away Jewish deceit and rewrite their own history—this time with themselves, not Jews, as the victims, and no longer made to pay the price of Nazism’s treachery by having to define themselves in the mirror of another people’s own tragic history."

This is, in fact, pretty much what I found at the conference, tho I would use a less agressive language. At the same time, it should be noted that due to disorganization and a great deal of confusion leading up to the event itself, I do not believe any significant revisionist (or any other) paper was presented. But the one thing that could be observed again and again, during the Q&As as well as the abriveiated talks, was the Muslim passion over the insult, if I can put it that way, of the Palestinian issue. At the same time, I hardly heard Iraq mentioned, which was a surprise for me.

With regard to the "vast conspiricy" which only "revisionists" see: that is in large part due to the backing of the taboo by the American professorial class against seeing it, and the fact that it is a criminal act in continental Europe (and Israel) to "see" it.

How many other historical "truths" have to be protected by taboo and the imprisonment of those who "see?"


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

HOW incurable, not "now incurable" in my first post here.

Not that your pretended failure to comprehend has any plausibility.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The TRUE fact that Kovachev has already (at this point) made eleven posts to the HNN article on Jimmy Carter and apartheid (running this week as well) which the author himself says is about NOTHING else EXCEPT a "quibble over titles," shows (for the umteenth time on HNN) now incurable is the hypocrisy of the hate- and fear-mongering biased.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This moderately informative article would have been much more interesting had it had much of anything to do with its title. Since Ahmadinejad is not even an Arab leader of an Arab country, let alone a Palestinian, the political value to him of his Holocaust denialism is left in utter obscurity by this piece.


Peter Kovachev - 12/19/2006

Huh?


chris c womak - 12/19/2006

The fact that you come here and spew all the predictable, typical and boring Jewish bullshit in regards to "genocide" and "Islamofascism," is. well, predictable, typical and boring. Be gone fool.


chris c womak - 12/19/2006

The article was boring.


Peter Kovachev - 12/18/2006

HNN must be running some equal oppotunity scheme. Lunatics, antisemites and whatever else can manage to crawl out out of a sewer and slither towards the nearest keyboard are now accepted. Welcome to the forums, Womak, make yourself at home.


Peter Kovachev - 12/18/2006

The fact that you can wax phlosophical and quibble over titles regarding repeated calls for another Jewish genocide by an Islamofascist state which is about to go nuclear, and which has been politically and financially bankrolling "Palestinian" terror groups tells me more about you than anything you've written so far.