Holocaust Museum Calls For Pressure On Rouhani To Confront Holocaust Denial At UN

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani answers a question during press conference in New York on September 26, 2014. Rouhani said Friday that talks with international powers on Tehran's nuclear program must move forward more quickly, saying limited progress had been made in recent days.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV — The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum urged world leaders to condemn Iran’s Holocaust denial ahead of President Hassan Rouhani’s address at the UN General Assembly.

“We want to make sure that the upcoming discussion at the United Nations is informed by facts about official attempts to promote hatred and extremism in the form of Holocaust denial,” Ted Stahnke, the director of the museum’s Initiative on Holocaust Denial and Anti-Semitism said Tuesday.

“The museum calls on international leaders at the General Assembly to condemn [Iran’s] Holocaust distortion.”

Stahnke and Iranian filmmaker Maziar Bahari warned against believing claims by so-called moderates like Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that Tehran renounces Holocaust denial.

The Islamic Republic has made a policy of denying the Holocaust since Al-Quds Day in 1998, when then-president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani dismissed the genocide of Jews as “Zionist propaganda.”

Since then there have been several instances of Holocaust denial, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressing doubt that it ever occurred and former president Ahmadinejad’s oft-repeated denial. Ahmadinejad said his achievement in making Holocaust denial no longer taboo was the highlight of his presidency.

Most recently, Iran held a cartoon contest in May which the U.S. termed “a platform for Holocaust denial and revisionism and egregiously anti-Semitic speech.”

Zarif denied that the contest had anything to do with the Iranian government.

Bahari warned against believing Zarif, calling it a “lie.”

“Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism has become a weapon of the hardliners in Iran to use against reformers,” he said. “So whenever the hardliners want to put pressure on reformers they promote anti-Semitism and deny the Holocaust because they know exactly what it will mean from outside of Tehran.”

Stahnke said Rouhani will likely use the UN platform to decry extremism while condemning its rival, Saudi Arabia.

“Iranian leaders should be made to talk about Iranian Holocaust denial at the UN General Assembly,” Bahari said.

.