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Iran President: Israel Will Be Wiped Out

by Ali Akbar Darei­ni

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s hard-line pres­i­dent said Tues­day that Israel will one day be “wiped out” as the Sovi­et Union was, draw­ing applause from par­tic­i­pants in a con­fer­ence cast­ing doubt on the Holo­caust.

Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad’s com­ments were like­ly to fur­ther fuel the out­cry prompt­ed by the two-day gath­er­ing, which has gath­ered some of Europe’s and the Unit­ed States’ best-known Holo­caust deniers.

Anger over the con­fer­ence could fur­ther iso­late Iran as the West con­sid­ers sanc­tions in the stand­off over Tehran’s nuclear pro­gram.

But Ahmadine­jad appeared to rev­el in his meet­ing Tues­day with con­fer­ence del­e­gates, shak­ing hands with Amer­i­can par­tic­i­pants and sit­ting near six anti-Israel Jew­ish par­tic­i­pants, dressed in black ultra-Ortho­dox coats and hats.

“The Zion­ist regime will be wiped out soon the same way the Sovi­et Union was, and human­i­ty will achieve free­dom,” Ahmadine­jad said dur­ing Tues­day’s meet­ing in his offices, accord­ing to the offi­cial IRNA news agency.

He called for elec­tions among “Jews, Chris­tians and Mus­lims so the pop­u­la­tion of Pales­tine can select their gov­ern­ment and des­tiny for them­selves in a demo­c­ra­t­ic man­ner.”

Ahmadine­jad has used anti-Israeli rhetoric and cast doubt on the Holo­caust to ral­ly anti-West­ern sup­port­ers at home and abroad, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Asia and the Mid­dle East. Sev­er­al times he has referred to the Holo­caust as a “myth” used to impose the state of Israel on the Arab world.

“The Holo­caust is the device used as the pil­lar of Zion­ist impe­ri­al­ism, Zion­ist aggres­sion, Zion­ist ter­ror and Zion­ist mur­der,” David Duke, a for­mer Ku Klux Klan leader and for­mer state rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Louisiana, told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press.

Ahmadine­jad announced the con­fer­ence would set up a “fact-find­ing com­mis­sion” to deter­mine whether the Holo­caust hap­pened or not. The com­mis­sion will “help end a 60-year-old dis­pute,” he said.

The Tehran con­fer­ence was tout­ed by par­tic­i­pants and orga­niz­ers as an exer­cise in aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom and a chance to open­ly con­sid­er whether 6 mil­lion Jews real­ly died in the Holo­caust, away from West­ern taboos and the restric­tions imposed on schol­ars in Europe, where some coun­tries have made it a crime to deny the Nazi geno­cide dur­ing World War II.

It gath­ered 67 writ­ers and researchers from 30 coun­tries, most of whom argue that either the Holo­caust did not hap­pen or that it was vast­ly exag­ger­at­ed. Many have been jailed or fined in France, Ger­many or Aus­tria, where it is ille­gal to deny the Holo­caust.

Par­tic­i­pants milled around a mod­el of the Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp brought by one speak­er, Aus­tralian Fred­er­ick Toben, who uses the mock-up in lec­tures con­tend­ing that the camp was too small to kill mass num­bers of Jews. More than 1 mil­lion peo­ple are esti­mat­ed to have been killed there.

Rab­bi Moshe David Weiss, one of six mem­bers attend­ing from the group Jews Unit­ed Against Zion­ism, told del­e­gates, “We don’t want to deny the killing of Jews in World War II, but Zion­ists have giv­en much high­er fig­ures for how many peo­ple were killed.”

“They have used the Holo­caust as a device to jus­ti­fy their oppres­sion,” he said. His group rejects the cre­ation of Israel on the grounds that it vio­lates Jew­ish reli­gious law.

British Prime Min­is­ter Tony Blair said Tues­day that the con­fer­ence was “shock­ing beyond belief” and “a sym­bol of sec­tar­i­an­ism and hatred.”

In Wash­ing­ton, the White House con­demned Iran for con­ven­ing a con­fer­ence it called “an affront to the entire civ­i­lized world.”


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