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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has shown a peculiar obsession with the Holocaust, claiming that it never occurred and that the establishment of Israel therefore has no legitimacy. This claim goes along with many other conspiratorial claims about Jews and their supposedly destructive history, a disturbing characteristic of a national leader seeking nuclear arms and believing in a messianic vision. One might hope that Ahmadinejad's advisors might hold a moderating influence on his anti-Semitic paranoia, but unfortunately they appear to feed his madness. MEMRI has just posted a translation of remarks made by Ahmadinejad's advisor Mohammad Ali Ramin, who both questions the Holocaust and insists that the question will only find an answer in Israel's destruction:
On a visit to Gilan University, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s advisor Mohammad Ali Ramin said to a group of students in the town of Rasht, 'Ten years ago, when I brought up the issue of the Holocaust for the first time in this country, my goal was to defend the Jewish people. But among the Jews there have always been those who killed God’s prophets and who opposed justice and righteousness. Throughout history, this religious group has inflicted the most damage on the human race, while some of its groups engaged in plotting against other nations and ethnic groups to cause cruelty, malice and wickedness.
'Historically, there are many accusations against the Jews. For example, it was said that they were the source for such deadly disease as the plague and typhus. This is because the Jews are very filthy people. For a time people also said that they poisoned water wells belonging to Christians and thus killed them,' Ramin said.
This demonstrates the typical thinking of bigots. They offer tautologies as proof and produce no evidence whatsoever. Take the argument that the Jews spread plague and typhus. We have known for centuries how the plague spread: from rats and the fleas that infested them. This means nothing to Ramin, however, because he asserts that the Jews are a "very filthy people," and this assertion somehow proves his argument. Besides, all he's doing here is simply passing gossip. For a time, people also said that they poisoned water wells.... I suppose they did until they finally discovered that such tripe was patently false.
Of course, arguing logic with bigots only has the effect of honing one's own debating skills, because people like Ramin do not think on a rational basis on their hatreds. The point of publishing this account isn't to convince Ramin and the governing Iranians the error of their ways, but to demonstrate just how little effect negotiating with the Iranian mullahracy will have. While we're trying to find common ground to bring an end to their nuclear program and find a way for them to fit into the global community, Ramin busies himself blaming Jews for spreading AIDS, SARS, the bird flu, and "the deadly epidermis".
How does one negotiate with a group of people this utterly insane?
The Iranian view of the Holocaust, however, shows a particular strain of madness that we simply cannot afford to ignore or shrug off. Ramin reveals that Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial forms an integral part of the Iranian strategy in the Middle East:
Claiming that the Holocaust was the principal reason why Palestine was occupied while Israel was the main cause of crises and catastrophe in the Middle East. 'So long as Israel exists in the region there will never be peace and security in the Middle East,' he said adding, 'So the resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel.'
Ramin says he did not advise Ahmadinejad to make his remarks about denying the Holocaust but instead suggesting setting up a panel to determine the accuracy of the historical record. However, when one operates from the unchallengeable assumptions that Jews spread plague, typhus, poisoned Christian water wells, and now spread AIDS, SARS, and such, the historical review of such a group will have an obvious conclusion before the Iranians even bother to name the panel.
All of this is window dressing to the real worldview of the Iranian mullahcracy. They see Jews as inherently evil and subhuman, descended from pigs and/or monkeys, and they want to rid themselves of any Jewish presence in what they see as the ummah. Denying the Holocaust gives them some strange moral imperative to eliminate the result, as they see it, of the Holocaust's aftermath: Israel. None of these comments have any benign interpretation. They are making it clear that they intend to wipe Israel off the map, and anyone who comes to their aid. Mutual deterrence will not stop them from eventually acting to "resolve" the Holocaust question. And any policy of containment or MAD will fail as a result.
We have to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and we have to do it soon. Otherwise, we will see Iran take its chances with the West that we will not intervene after an attack on Israel as long as Iranian rockets can reach London. Given the current state of global leadership, that's a bluff they may well win.
NOTE: The excellent New York Sun blog, It Shines For All, pointed this out to me.Sphere It View blog reactions
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