The UN-sanctioned establishment of Jan. 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day is a welcome development and long overdue. But as the success of Hamas in this week's Palestinian elections shows, memorials for Holocaust victims must be coupled with a response to the existential threats to the survival of the Jewish people posed by Middle Eastern Islamists.
The fact that Palestinian voters would give so much support to a murderous terrorist organization is telling. Consider Hamas' 1988 founding covenant, in which it approvingly quotes Imam Hassan al-Banna's invocation that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it."
In effect, many Palestinians were voting for the extermination of the Jewish state.
Of course, Hamas does not yet have the means to make good on this goal. Nor will it anytime soon. But the same is not true of the group's patrons in Tehran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and has said that he wants to put Israel "into eternal coma -- like (Ariel) Sharon."
Ahmadinejad also denies the historical reality of the Nazi Holocaust, which he claims is a hoax invented by Zionists.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has challenged Iran's President to visit Auschwitz to "come and see the evidence of the Holocaust himself."
The response by Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reiterates Tehran's promise to hold a government-sponsored Holocaust Denial conference giving voice to a rogue's gallery of hatemongers who will promote Ahmadinejad's claim that Hitler's murder of six million Jews is a "fairy tale."
Prime Minister Blair may consider the idea of such a conference "shocking, ridiculous, stupid," and President Bush may reiterate the U.S. commitment to an embattled Israel, but Tehran's mullahs are not at all ashamed. To the contrary, they have already learned the only lesson they care to from Europe -- that, six decades after Auschwitz, there is still no price to be paid for anti-Semitic statecraft.
Indeed, Iran's Ahmadinejad used as a bully pulpit a visit to the Muslim holy of holies, Mecca. He proudly takes credit for rekindling "the Islamic world (which) was getting passive and extinguished on opposing Israel and needed a shock on the basis of truth."
Compounding the menace of Hamas on Israel's doorstep and Iran's genocidal threats is the fact that not a single Arab government is willing to forthrightly condemn either movement.
Perhaps these leaders remember the fate of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, murdered in 2005 by Syrian agents. He'd got on the wrong side of Damascus' Bashar Assad in 2001 by courageously canceling an international Holocaust Deniers' Conference in Beirut. Organized by Jurgen Graf, a professional bigot who fled Switzerland to Tehran after being sentenced to jail for defaming the memory of Hitler's victims, the plan was a sit-down among a cross-section of extremists from Hezbollah to William L. Pierce, whose infamous racist tract, The Turner Diaries, was the blueprint for Timothy McVeigh's terrorist attack in Oklahoma City.
Collectively, Hamas, Hizbullah and their patrons in Tehran represent the synthesis of two poisonous ideological movements in the Muslim world: The denial of the Nazi Holocaust, and the desire to create a second Holocaust. And they're getting plenty of support from "mainstream" Arab sources.
In Egypt, where a columnist in the newspaper Al-Massa recently described Nazi gas chambers as "no more than rooms to disinfect clothing," the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's leading opposition movement, has abandoned its "moderate" pose during recent parliamentary election in order to add its voice to Ahmadinejad's.
According to Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the Brotherhood's supreme spiritual leader, "the sons of Zion" are responsible for manufacturing "the myth of the Holocaust" as well as "manipulating" the "new world order" that America is imposing on the Mideast.
Despite recent condemnations from leaders such as Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush, the world continues to give Mideast hatemongers mixed signals.
No cozying up to Hamas-led government
In June, 2005, UN Secretary Kofi Annan eloquently described the world body as "emerging from the ashes of the Holocaust" to rectify great evils like Jew hatred. But the UN General Assembly has failed to even censure Tehran for threatening genocide against a member state; and at the recent UN Palestine Day proceedings, Annan appeared on stage in front of a map of the Mideast with Israel expunged.
Only now is it beginning to dawn on some world leaders that we are approaching a 21st century "Munich moment." Will Washington recognize a Hamas administration as legitimate? Will it succumb to threats to unleash a terrorist network to "burn" American cities if the world takes action against Iran's nuclear program? Will the European Union seek to appease Tehran's genocidal Jew-hatred in hopes that any toxic fallout will be limited to the Middle East?
The West must make clear that it will not give in to terrorists and their supporters. In addition to tough UN sanctions to stop Iran's nuclear weaponization, Western governments must counter Iran's anti-Semitic statecraft by making opposition to the new global Jew hatred integral to their own statecraft.
No more friendly meetings or sweetheart economic deals with Tehran until the mullahs stop their genocidal rhetoric and nuclear preparations; ad no cozying up to a Palestinian government dominated by Hamas. There is still time to act before the world may have to face a new Holocaust.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Leo Adler is Director, National Affairs, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto