holocaust denial » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘holocaust denial’
March 11, 2016

In Iran, Holocaust Denial and Mockery are Alive and Well

Despite the international community’s reengagement with a more “open” and “moderate” Iran, some things in Iranian society haven’t changed, including the prevalence of Holocaust mockery and denial. While President Rouhani hasn’t touted the issue like his predecessor Ahmadinejad had, recent announcements indicate that the questioning of the Holocaust is very much alive and well within Iranian society.

In December, the Tehran International Cartoon Biennial announced an international Holocaust cartoon contest, with the winning entry getting a $50,000 reward. Now, the Islamic Association of the University of Isfahan has announced that it will hold its own Holocaust cartoon contest. The Islamic Association held a similar contest in 2015. In announcing this year’s contest, the Islamic Association explained that its goal is to demonstrate sympathy with oppressed Palestinians and show hatred towards the Zionist regime and “the child killer Israel.” The organizers claim the contest is “not anti-Semitic,” but rather an effort to question such a disgraceful and false phenomenon – the Holocaust – something which no one in the Western world dares to do.

Islamic Association of  Isfahan University Holocaust Cartoon Contest

Islamic Association of Isfahan University Holocaust Cartoon Contest

They also claim their goal is to empower talented individuals with skills they can use to educate students and others about the fallacy of the Holocaust.

Additionally, a recent confab for NGOs including social service agencies in an unnamed Iranian city titled “The International Conference on Cooperation and Humanitarian Aids”, which included a session promoting Holocaust denial. A report published following the session stated that there is “no proof for Zionist claims about the Holocaust and Jews.” Mohammad Javad Khosrave, a Holocaust “expert” and Emad Najar, Zionist and Media “expert”, were among the attendees.

Tags: , , ,

February 23, 2016

Holocaust Denier Bradley Smith’s Legacy of Lies

Holocaust denier Bradley Smith, the founder of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH), died on February 18, 2016, his 86th birthday. Smith’s lasting impact is apparent in his peers’ reaction to his death – and in the continued efforts of the organizations he created to promote dangerous Holocaust denial theories. Smith’s acolytes and fellow Holocaust deniers rushed to eulogize him in the days following his death.bradley-smith-report-logo

Smith was one of the original Holocaust deniers – an aging group that included Willis Carto, who died in October and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in February amid considerable controversy. Smith denied every fact about the Holocaust: He discounted the number of murders, he dismissed the gas chambers as “false,” and he questioned the existence of a planned “Final Solution.”

Smith had an eclectic, literary – even progressive – young adulthood, and did not engage in so-called “revisionism” until he was nearly 50, when he read a copy of Robert Faurrison’s “The Problem of the Gas Chambers.”  The pamphlet, as Smith recalled in his memoir, “Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist,” changed his life. From that moment on, Smith’s Holocaust denial was absolute – he refuted every piece of evidence that was presented to him, from eyewitness testimony to photographs of the concentration camps to historical documents – and he was determined to share his new beliefs widely, especially on college campuses.

David Cole, who also promoted Holocaust denial on campus in the 1990s, wrote this about Smith: “…He made his mark. Whether they know if it or not, those today who campaign for free speech on college campuses… all use techniques Bradley helped pioneer. Campus newspaper ads disguised as op-eds, calculatedly provocative speaking tours, pitting student idealists against ideologues… Bradley did it first.”

From 1987 to 2001, CODOH ran the Campus Project, Smith’s attempt to fuel Holocaust denial on university campuses by placing essay-length ads in more than 350 student newspapers. Smith’s efforts set off heated First Amendment debates nationwide.committee-for-open-debate-on-the-holocaust-codoh-logo

In his homage to Smith, Holocaust denier Arthur Butz, a professor of electrical engineering at Northwestern University and author of “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century,” wrote of CODOH: “I call it a great success, because [Smith’s] kitchen-table operation has grown into the principal center of revisionism, publishing, posting or linking to articles in several languages and providing outlets for people who make worthy contributions… Congratulations and R.I.P., Bradley, for a life that made a difference!”

Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf, a longtime Smith collaborator, added these words of praise: “Bradley’s legacy is monumental. Among revisionists, there are few who have achieved as much as he has… He almost single-handedly made his own nation listen to the revisionist message, in spite of all establishment attempts to silence him.”

Smith’s impact reached beyond his peers to everyday “revisionists.” On the day after his death, an anonymous commenter posted condolences on the CODOH website:  “Though I never knew him personally, I have read a bit of his work… May he rest well knowing that he lived a accomplished life fighting the wicked goliath that sends waves of propagation far…”

In recent years, Smith seemed determined to continue his work – and shore up his hateful legacy. In March 2015, he announced the creation of a new Holocaust denial website, A Light on Campus, which features the tagline: “As a student, with regards to the Holocaust narrative, you are being directed by academic taboo rather than intellectual freedom and a free press. Do you want to continue to support this taboo, or confront it?”

Even in the week leading up to his death, Smith was making noise: On February 10, 2016, Jewish students at the University of Vermont received an email questioning the record keeping at Auschwitz and claiming that one of the camp’s crematoriums was constructed after World War II. The message was signed by Bradley Smith.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

December 28, 2015

Iran: While We Weren’t Looking

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

Khamenei - Social Media Image

It’s been nearly two months since the so-called “adoption day” when Iran officially began the process of scaling back its centrifuges and retrofitting some its nuclear infrastructure as part of the agreement with the world powers to restrict its nuclear weapons program. Some have touted the agreement as a sign of Iran seeking to soften its policies and join the world community.

Yet, for all of the fanfare over the summer about the consequences of the Iran deal, it seems like little attention has been paid to other Iranian policies. Alas, with the world’s focus on the immediate danger of the radical extremism emanating from the Islamic State, Iranian actions in recent months have affirmed the regime’s unchanged agenda — promoting illiberal policies that profoundly conflict with our core values and those of nearly every other member of the family of nations.

In recent weeks, some actually have suggested that Washington “separate its Iran policy from Israel.” This is little more than a smokescreen to divert attention. Despite the impassioned rhetoric of some regime supporters, it’s not about Israel. It’s about the Islamic Republic of Iran, a regime that continues its authoritarian rule at home and one that enforces policies overseas that challenge the core principles that center our country:

Doubling Down on Human Rights Violations: Two years into the term of “reformist” President Hassan Rouhani, the Islamic Republic remains one of the world’s leading human rights violators. If anything, Iran has stepped up its abuses in recent months.

Activists and watchdog groups report a harsh crackdown since September, with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arresting dozens of activists, artists, cartoonists and journalists. Notable among these are the detention of 170 “managers of groups active in mobile social networks” in Ghazvin, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency, and the arrest of administrators of groups on a messaging app for spreading “immoral content.”

Iran is one of the most dangerous countries in the world if you are an LGBTQ person. In October, Revolutionary Guards arrested 17 people at a birthday party, saying they were “a network of homosexuals and Satanists.”

And, while critics rightly have decried ISIS’ persecution of religious minorities, there is widespread religious discrimination in Iran — including banning worship and frequent arrests. In November, according to reports, more than a dozen Christians in Varamin were arrested for the “crime” of attending church services on a Sunday.

The Baha’i World News Service reported 20 Baha’i Iranians were arrested in three cities across Iran in recent weeks for no discernible reason. The Shiite theocracy holds particular contempt for Sunni Muslims. Many human rights observers are monitoring the high-profile case of Shahram Ahmadi, a Sunni prisoner of conscience who currently languishes on death row in Iran simply because of how he prays.

Beyond religious persecution, a U.N. General Assembly human rights committee resolution passed in mid-November condemned Iran for its “alarming high frequency of, and increase in the carrying-out of the death penalty….”

While ISIS has been derided for their brutal haphazard executions, Iran has systematized the use of capital punishment as a tool of the state against its perceived enemies, and has done so in complete disregard of internationally recognized norms. This includes widespread executions “undertaken without notification to the prisoner’s family members or legal counsel.” According to Amnesty International, Iran’s “staggering execution spree” in 2015 could reach 1,000 executions by the end of the year.

Anti-Jewish and “Anti-Zionist” Propaganda: Fantastical anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have been a mainstay in the state-run Iranian media since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Official sources regularly issue explicit and implicit threats against the Jewish State. Almost too frequent to mention, there are some notable new additions to the canon of hatred:

Just days after the attacks in Paris, Iran’s Fars News Agency published a so-called report titled, “Paris Bombings — Fingerprints of the Zionists Are Found Again” that made a series of bizarre unsubstantiated accusations, including that “After the terrorist attacks in Paris, it was once again confirmed that French Jews were informed that the tragedy would happen. Just as it happened in the September 11 attacks 14 years ago, when Jews work­ing in the Twin Towers did not attend to work.” To add to this fiction, the account added that “Zionist officials wanted to exploit [the attacks] to achieve their specific goals,” albeit no factual basis was provided to explain this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

Iran consistently uses war-mongering rhetoric in its campaign against the Jewish state. Iran has accused Israel of creating ISIS, despite the clear lunacy of such a suggestion. It is troubling to even repeat such a monstrous fiction, but also seems ironic in light of the fact that arguably the Islamic Republic of Iran has benefited more than any other government in the world from the distracting capabilities of ISIS. In this year’s annual commemoration of the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the Iranian government launched a new public relations campaign that declared: “Israel will be destroyed within 25 years.” This came on the heels of the Supreme Leader’s repeated use of social media to threaten Israel with destruction, including his announcement in November 2014 of a new “9-point plan to destroy Israel.”

In a recently released open “Letter to Western Youth,” Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei charged that Israel’s “terrorism” is worse than the attacks in Paris. He wrote of Israel, “In today’s world, do we know of any other violence on this scale and scope and for such an extended period of time?” Alas, this was not written with any hint of irony.

Finally, whether we can credit the Supreme Leader or those around him, Iran recently revived one of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s favorites: the Holocaust-themed cartoon contest. The 11th version of the “event” which has attracted extremists and propagandists from around the world promises to feature much of the same. Best of all, organizer Masud Shojai-Tabatabai told an Iranian news service, “[This year] we are also worried about the contemporary holocausts in which a great number of women and children are being killed in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria.” It is unclear whether this was intended to be ironic since he failed to point out that Iran is at the root of these conflicts, sowing unrest in Yemen and perhaps more involved than any other state actor in sustaining the brutality and loss of life in Syria.

Terrorism: Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism is well documented. While the world focuses on responses to ISIS and other radical Sunni groups including Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, Iran maintains its financial and operational support for equally violent terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen. And, although ISIS just recently has shifted its focus outside its local theater of operations, Iran long has exported terror beyond its borders. Its litany of crimes spans continents from Latin America to Europe and includes an attempted assassination in Washington, D.C. Iran has also expanded to Africa: just a few weeks ago, Kenyan authorities announced the arrest of two local men who were described as having “links to Iran” for plotting attacks against Western targets in the country.

Anti-Americanism: During the summer, many observers marveled at the fact that America and Iran seemingly overcame decades of distrust to forge a diplomatic agreement. Yet, despite the accord, Iranian leadership continues to rail against the “Big Satan” without penalty or even opprobrium. In a recent televised address, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei inexplicably alleged that the U.S. is trying to “infiltrate Iran” using sex and money.

Iran continues to imprison Americans without any legal basis for doing so. The list of captives includes Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who, according to reports in the Iranian media, recently was sentenced to a prison term of indeterminate length. But Rezaian is not alone. There are five otherimprisoned American citizens, including Siamak Namazi, a Dubai-based businessman with dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship who was detained by the authorities just last month for unsubstantiated crimes.

Beyond unprovoked arrests and public threats, the Islamic Republic employs increasingly sophisticated tools in its efforts to target America. U.S. officials have reported a “surge” in cyber-attacks emanating from Iran, including a series of attempted hacking attacks that targeted State Department officials, the very same individuals with whom the Islamic Republic allegedly was negotiating in good faith on the nuclear deal. Admittedly, the reported hacking attack of Bowman Avenue Dam near Rye Brook, NY took place two years ago before “good faith” was the norm. But it seems an indicator of what we can expect in the future.

We still are months away from “implementation day” — the date when the IAEA must certify that Iran has met the requirements spelled out in the nuclear agreement before international sanctions are lifted, and world attention might shift back to Iran and its behaviors. Meanwhile, commercial delegations blaze a trail to Tehran and analysts contemplate a new era for Iran and the West.

But just as the international community is committed to monitoring for potential violations in the nuclear realm, the Islamic Republic ongoing human rights violations and its external aggressions must be taken into account when considering the prospect of normalized relations.

Tags: , , , , , , ,