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December 11, 2006
Holocaust Scholars Are Not Welcome In Iran

The Iranian regime hosts its Holocaust denial conference this week, the long-promoted effort of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian president says he wants an unbiased look at the evidence of the Nazi genocide of European Jews during World War II, and he's inviting every nutcase in the Northern Hemisphere to attend the conference. However, one Palestinian has found his invitation withdrawn:

An outspoken Palestinian lawyer was hoping to challenge Holocaust deniers during a provocative conference that opens in Iran today. The international gathering will question whether six million Jews were actually slaughtered by the Nazis in the Second World War.

But yesterday Khaled Kasab Mahameed learnt from the Iranian Foreign Ministry — which had invited him to speak — that he would not receive a visa. No reason was given.

Mr Mahameed suspects that it was because he has an Israeli passport. It may also have been because he has made clear what he intended to say.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” Mr Mahameed, who studied at a British university, told The Times. He was seeking a personal audience with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, to tell him that denials or questioning of “such huge, monstrous horror” harmed the Palestinian cause.

Mr Mahameed lives in Israel, where he has established the Arab Institute for Holocaust Research and Education, the Arab world’s first Holocaust museum, in Nazareth. He believes that the “study, analysis and acknowledgement” of the Holocaust by Arabs is important for a durable peace between the Palestinians and Israel. “It’s not enough to curse these Holocaust deniers as foolish. We have to convince them the Holocaust did happen,” Mr Mahameed said.

Originally, Mahameed's attendance figured to class the joint up a bit. With the invitation list leaning heavily towards flat-earthers, the presence of a scholar such as Mahameed would have allowed the Iranians to claim that they gave all sides an opportunity for a hearing. Instead, the appearance of a single person with a connection to reality, no matter how tenuous, has given the Iranians the, er, heebie jeebies.

So who's on the A-list in Teheran? David Irving was rumored to have planned to appear, but the Austrians tossed him in prison for his repeated denials of the Holocaust. That's a bad idea, as I wrote last February, but Irving hardly deserves much sympathy otherwise. Australia didn't keep Frederick Toben from gaining a visa, and probably hope he decides to relocate to Iran permanently. Lady Michele Renouf, who championed Irving and a variety of far-right nuttiness, will also appear in Teheran. Ahmadinejad brags that 67 such "experts" from over 30 countries will attend his convention.

Truth, alas, will not make an appearance.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 11, 2006 5:06 AM

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