Senior Holocaust researchers in Israel are outraged at the self-titled Holocaust research conference opening in Teheran. The purpose, said the researchers on Monday, is painfully clear: Spreading anti-Semitism and de-legitimizing the state of Israel.
Yad-Vashem director Avner Shalev said, "It's important for Ahmadinejad to host this conference because it is another step in a well planned process; creating a suitable background and public set of mind that can allow him to strive towards genocide."
According to Shalev this is "a systematic method that he is employing with the intention of destroying the moral basis for the existence of the state of Israel as a home for the Jewish people.
"Ahmadinejad wants to link together these questions of 'historical truths' and moral rights with the Israeli-Arab conflict so that this link will gnaw at global recognition of the moral right of a sovereign Jewish state in Israel."
"There is no connection between this conference and researching the Holocaust," said Dr. Ephraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
"What are the credentials of these people who are participating in the Tehran conference? None of them are Holocaust experts but they are all experts of something else: Spreading anti-Semitism, spreading anti-Zionism, attacking Israel and the Jewish people and trying to de-legitimize the state of Israel. This is their expertise and that is why they are participating in this conference."
Zuroff explains what he believes is the reason that Ahmadinejad chooses to focus his efforts on the subject of the Holocaust: "The Holocaust has become the most classic example of genocide in the 20th century. As a result there is a natural empathy towards Jews as victims of the Holocaust.
"Those anti-Semites understand that as long as the subject resonates so deeply in the world – it will be much more difficult for them to harm Jews and the state of Israel, which was established as a direct or indirect result of the Holocaust."
Russia, China and the impressionable massesBoth researchers are concerned over the moves that Iran is trying to push forward. Shalev is worried about those "who are easy to influence and already have a tendency towards anti-Semitism and reject Israel as a Jewish state. They can attach to things said in this conference and therefore there is a real danger here."
Zuroff believes that the danger lies in the absence of an appropriate international reaction. The true key, he says, lies in the hands of Russia and China. "These are the countries with whom Iran has important economic ties to, they are also the ones who have defended Iran in the UN when it comes to nuclear sanctions," says Zuroff who knows there is a "zero chance" that either Russia or China will condemn the Iranian conference.
Shalev is worried about the influence Ahmadinejad holds over the Arab-Muslim world, saying that what is now an extremist fringe may widen considerably.
"This is a struggle that we must gather our strength to fight against," Shalev concluded.