Photo: Israel Hadari
Micheline Calmy-Rey
Photo: Israel Hadari

Switzerland offers 'Holocaust perception' meet with Iran

Swiss president secretly offers Iran to hold 'perceptions of Holocaust' conference in Geneva. Proposal nixed amid Swiss political objections. 'The Swiss government owes an apology to all Holocaust survivors,' says ADL

Switzerland secretly approached Iran offering to hold a conference regarding "various perceptions of the Holocaust" in Geneva, the Swiss magazine Weltwoche reported earlier this week.


The proposal was made via confidential memorandum from Switzerland's President, Micheline Calmy-Rey, to Iranian deputy foreign minister Saaid Jalili, during his visit in Switzerland last December.


The Swiss foreign ministry objected to the idea, annulling it. Calmy-Rey's proposal, which would have voiced anew the Iranian doubts over the very existence of the Holocaust, outraged many Jewish organizations, which demanded she apologize.


Calmy-Rey was subject to her own party's criticism as well, as her accusers said that should her proposal be realized she would have compromised Switzerland's international diplomatic status.


Western diplomats described the proposal as a "clumsy, dangerous idea, intended to help Iran out of its seclusion." The Weltwoche magazine, which broke the story, called the idea "a stupid, naïve notion" saying the Iranians would have clearly used the conference for their own agenda.


The Swiss president, the magazine assumed, hoped the proposal would push the Swiss initiative for alternative negotiations between Tehran and the West over the Iranian nuclear plan.


The Swiss initiative is Calmy-Rey's alternative to the current talks with Tehran, led by France, Germany and the UK which have resulted in escalating sanctions and no Iranian concessions.


Objections aside, there is little chance the conference could have taken place in Switzerland to begin with since it's one of six countries in the world where denying the Holocaust is a criminal offense.


Any attempt to underestimate or "redefine" the Holocaust's magnitude is punishable by a jail sentence.


The Swiss president refused to comment on the report in the Weltwoche, but issued a statement saying "the existence of the Holocaust is a historical fact and must never be doubted."


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published an official statement in the Weltwoche, saying "We are outraged that the Swiss government could have pitched the idea of a seminar on the Holocaust to - of all countries – Iran… the Swiss government owes an apology to all Holocaust survivors."


פרסום ראשון: 06.07.07, 14:01
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