Iran Hosts Anti-Semitic Hatefest in Tehran
Responses from World Leaders
Posted: December 14, 2006
In response to the Holocaust denial conference hosted by the Iranian Foreign Ministry December 11-12, 2006, a number of world leaders from the United States, the U.N. and Western nations spoke out against the conference and its goals to spread Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. The following is a selection of comments from world leaders on the conference, which featured dozens of speakers questioning the historical fact of the Holocaust.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan (via Spokesman Stephane Dujarric): "…any attempt to cast doubt on the reality of this unique and undeniable horror must be firmly resisted by all people of goodwill and of whatever faith… The secretary general would deeply deplore any conference whose purpose is to question or deny the reality of the Holocaust."
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura: "In the face of the attempts to re-write history that are currently at work, I can but recall in the most emphatic manner that it is our moral duty to analyze the past and to pass it on without falsification, alteration or omission… Any attempt to call into question or to deny the reality of the Holocaust or of any other crime against humanity is to be deeply regretted… I fully share the conviction of the United Nations Secretary-General [Kofi Annan], who recently denounced all attempts to cast doubt on the reality of the Holocaust, which he qualifies as 'a unique and undeniable horror.'"
Incoming U.N. Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon: "Denying historical facts especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust is just not acceptable… Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of states or people… I would like to see this fundamental principle respected in both rhetoric and practice by all the members of the international community."
President George W. Bush (via Press Secretary Tony Snow): The conference is "an affront to the entire civilized world as well as to the traditional Iranian values of tolerance and respect… The Iranian regime perversely seeks to call the historical fact of those atrocities into question and provide a platform for hatred."
State Department (official statement): The conference is "just awful."
Senator John McCain: Iran is a "possibly deranged and surely dangerous regime." It is the world's "chief state sponsor of international terrorism… It is simply tragic that millennia of proud Persian history have culminated in a government that today cannot be counted among the world's most civilized nations." Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is "an unacceptable risk… [Iran] must understand that it cannot win a showdown with the world."
Richard Jones, Ambassador to Israel: "For those people to say that the genocide did not occur is a real blow to humanity, a blow to civilization… It is all part of his goal of creating a smoke screen to divert world attention away from what Iran is trying to do in pursuing nuclear weapons."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper: "On behalf of the government of Canada, I want to condemn, in the strongest terms, this latest example of anti-Israeli and racist statements from the president of Iran… In addition, the conference hosted by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the sole purpose of denying the Holocaust is an offence to all Canadians."
Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay: "This conference was in fact an outrage. It was an insult to Holocaust victims. It was an insult to their descendants… Canada's new government and I am sure many others in this House and around the globe condemn this conference, just as we have previously condemned the Iranian president's comments about the Holocaust as hateful… Canada would never take part in such a sham of a conference. However, we would highlight the work of the task force for international cooperation on Holocaust education, remembrance, and research. Canada participated there as a special guest in Hungary last week. We commend this ongoing work that actually serves humanity while this despicable, provocative conference is taking place in Tehran."
Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (via statement): "The Republic of Croatia condemns the conference, as well as any attempt to deny…the tragedy of the Holocaust, primarily inappropriate statements and events which insult the victims and their descendants. As a country which suffered the horrors of World War II and as a victim of the recent aggression, Croatia considers as unacceptable statements questioning or denying the right of states or nations to existence, as well as statements negating historical facts and the position of the international community on the Holocaust."
European Union President Finland (official statement): "The Presidency of the European Union is deeply concerned about the Conference on the Holocaust, which was held in Tehran… The Presidency regards the holding of the conference as detrimental to efforts aimed at furthering the dialogue among civilisations, cultures and religions… The Presidency condemns in the strongest of terms any politically or racially motivated attempts and the use of pseudo-scholarship to deny or question the Holocaust and is disturbed by the continuous efforts of the Iranian government to question or trivialize the undeniable historical facts of the Holocaust and its horrors."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair: The conference is "shocking beyond belief… I think it is such a symbol of sectarianism and hatred toward people of another religion. I find it just unbelievable, really… I mean to go and invite the former head of the Ku Klux Klan to a conference in Tehran which disputes the millions of people who died in the Holocaust...what further evidence do you need that this regime is extreme?... I look around the region at the moment, and everything Iran is doing is negative."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "I would like to make clear that we reject with all our strength the conference taking place in Iran about the supposed nonexistence of the Holocaust… We absolutely reject this. Germany will never accept this and will act against it with all the means that we have… [The conference] shows the danger of the situation Israel is in and in particular the threat that Israel lives under."
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy: The conference represents a resurgence of "revisionist" theories "which are quite simply not acceptable."
European Union Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini: "I want to state my firm condemnation of any attempt to deny, trivialize or minimize the Shoah, war crimes and crimes against humanity… Anti-Semitism has no place in Europe; nor should it in any other part of the world." The conference shows an "utter disregard of historically established facts" and is "an unacceptable affront not only to the victims of that tragedy and their descendants, but also to the whole democratic world." It elicits "shock and indignation."
Vatican (official statement): "The memory of those horrible events must remain as a warning for people's consciences." The Holocaust is "immense tragedy before which we cannot remain indifferent… With reference to the conference taking place in Tehran, the Holy See re-states its own position, already expressed in the document of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews: 'We remember, a reflection on the Shoah.' … Last century witnessed the attempt to exterminate the Jewish people, with the consequent killing of millions of Jews of all ages and social categories, simply for the fact of belonging to that people. The Shoah was an immense tragedy to which no one can remain indifferent… The Church approaches with deep respect and great compassion the experience suffered by the Jewish people during the Second World War. The memory of those terrible events must remain as a warning to consciences, in order to eliminate conflicts, respect the legitimate rights of all peoples, and press for peace in truth and in justice… This position was affirmed by Pope John Paul II at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on March 23, 2000, and repeated by His Holiness Benedict XVI on his visit to the concentration camp of Auschwitz on May 28, 2006."
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik: "Any attempt at abetting intolerance and anti-Semitism must be sharply and emphatically rejected by the entire community of states… The information that already emerged during the preparation of this event gives rise to deepest concern. We explicitly made the denial and belittling of the national-socialist genocide a criminal offence in Austria in 1992, and we did so for important reasons… Austria and the European Union want a dialogue with Iran. This conference, however, completely contradicts the constant efforts for an open and serious dialogue between cultures which has to be based on respect for common values as well as on respect for one another. I call upon all those responsible in Iran to participate in this dialogue in a constructive manner instead of obstructing and undermining it with a conference of this kind."
Former French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicoullaud (2001-2005): "[Ahmadinejad is] trying to scientifically justify the unjustifiable…"
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President Pier Ferdinando Casini: Speaking about "the reality of the Holocaust," the President said, "To deny the existence of the Holocaust is an insult to our conscience as human beings… [There is] a moral obligation to combat racism. Any intention to deny the existence of the Holocaust - which would in any case be bound to fail - is an insult to our conscience as human beings… All of us have a moral obligation to combat discrimination and crimes against humanity."
Swiss Foreign Ministry (via statement by spokesman): "The Shoah is a historical fact. It is unacceptable to call this into question."
Russian Foreign Ministry (via statement by spokesman Mikhail Kamynin): Russia opposes "the distortion of historic events, the concealment of the truth about the monstrous crimes of the Nazis, and revision of results of humanity's most difficult struggle against Nazism… Russia shares the determination of the UN general assembly not to allow the denial of the Holocaust."
Slovak Foreign Minister Jan Kubis: "Slovakia resolutely rejects any efforts at questioning the Holocaust."
Belgium Ambassador to Israel Danielle del Marmol: "Ahmadinejad's declarations are absolutely despicable and unacceptable. I find it amazing that a politician could go this far in his absurd statements. All European states, all the states that realize these despicable statement must react."
Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Feim Chaushev: "The Holocaust is an undisputed historical fact and one of the greatest tragedies in human history, which can move anyone and can by no means be called into question… Bulgaria considers totally unacceptable any calls to wipe a nation off the face of the earth. Such calls inspire intolerance and hatred and can lead to unnecessary brutality and violence."
Cameroon Ambassador to Israel Henri Etoundi Essomba: "The world must oppose the message coming from Tehran whose goal is clearly to wipe out the state of Israel. We condemn it… I would like to express our solidarity with Israel in its legitimate fight against the dangerous ideologies expressed by the Teheran leadership."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: The conference is "unacceptable," a "sick phenomenon," and a "danger" to the Western world.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni: The conference is "falsifying and disgracing the Jewish past… The problem is that this conference is being dignified by a handful of people. This is a disgrace… The Iranian problem is not just a problem for the State of Israel, it's a problem for anyone who values democracy and the free world." In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry called the conference a "shameless initiative" and said that Iranian President Ahmadinejad "seeks to create legitimacy for his declared intention to destroy Israel and to spread his extremist doctrine, which contravenes the values of the free world… By denying or questioning the Holocaust, the most extreme form of genocide to date, he is challenging the essence of the notion of universal human rights, which was developed by the international community after -- and because of -- the Holocaust."
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima): In letters sent to 145 parliaments, he asked them to "send a clear and urgent message that such behavior can no longer be tolerated by the family of nations."
Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor): "[Ahmadinejad] should meet the survivors who have numbers tattooed on their wrists… All over the world, the survivors' words, their writings, should be passed on from father to son and in every classroom… For the first time since World War II, a member of the United Nations has called for the extermination of another member. That says it all."
Knesset Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud): Ahmadinejad is "the evil of our time…[He] supports all the terror organizations that are fighting Israel… By denying the Holocaust he persecutes not only the living Zionist state, but the Jewish dead."
Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Authority (official statement): The conference is an attempt to "paint [an] extremist agenda with a scholarly brush… The Iranian government's pseudo-academic conference, 'Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision,' is an effort to mainstream Holocaust denial and must be unequivocally rejected."
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Authority in Israel hosted a conference entitled, "Holocaust Denial: Paving the Way to Genocide" days after the Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran. Meant to highlight the danger in Holocaust denial and the threat posed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the conference attracted ambassadors and representatives from 40 countries including the United States, Uzbekistan, Austria, Uruguay, Ireland, El Salvador, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Belgium, Belarus, Hungary, Greece, Moldova, Norway, Czech Republic, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cameroon, Croatia, Sweden, Italy, Angola, Georgia, Germany, the EU, Ivory Coast, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Slovakia, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Panama, France, Romania and Russia.