There are those in the U.S. and in Israel who argue that Ahmadinejad’s views on the Holocaust are of utmost importance in understanding Iranian policy. I have heard more than one influential foreign-policy analyst argue that the Iranian president’s beliefs regarding the Holocaust are what drives Iran’s nuclear program, that Ahmadinejad wishes to finish what he refuses to believe the Nazis started.
This is absurd. First of all, Ahmadinejad has no say in Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, the security clearance of the president of Iran is not high enough to even look at the country’s nuclear dossier, let alone make decisions about it (that right rests in the hands of the Supreme National Security Council, of which Ahmadinejad is not a member).
But, more importantly, Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust comments must be understood as nothing more than the pandering of a politician (that is, pandering to the Arab street, not Iranians). It bears mentioning that every high-school student in Iran is taught about the events of World War II, including the Nazi extermination of Jews. In fact, I once asked an Iranian friend if he was embarrassed at Ahmadinejad’s ignorance of world events. He replied that he was no more embarrassed than I must be when President George W. Bush says that the world is 6,000 years old. [continued…]