What Iran’s president said, is said to have said and says he said

Robert Mackey writes: In an interview with Charlie Rose of CBS News broadcast on Thursday, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, rejected accusations that he had not clearly acknowledged the historical reality of the Holocaust in remarks to CNN earlier this week.

According to the simultaneous translation of Mr. Rouhani’s remarks from Persian into English, he replied:

In principle, we and I condemn the massacre carried out by the Nazis in World War II. I’ll also add that many groups were killed by the Nazis in the course of the war, Jews in specific, but there were also Christians, there were Muslims. So in principle, I’ll tell you that my government, I condemn massacre — the killing of people or any group. I’ll tell you that when an innocent person is killed, we never go about asking or inquiring whether they were Jewish or Christian or Muslim. That’s not our way or our creed. We simply say that we condemn any killing, any massacre, and therefore we condemn the massacre of the Jewish people by the Nazis, as we also condemn the other massacres that took place in the course of the war.

“Why would I want to deny it?” Mr. Rouhani asked rhetorically. “Given that we live in the Middle East,” he added, “we feel the impact of what took place in World War II today in our region.”

The president argued — as his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had in far more inflammatory language — that the Palestinian people had been forced to pay for the crimes of the Nazis when the state of Israel was established as a Jewish homeland in the Middle East after the German genocide in Europe. “We think that it’s time to really separate that event from what’s happening to a group of people now in the Middle East who’ve lost their homes, who have been discriminated against, who have gone through some of the worst kinds of torture that no one — even the Jewish people — would want to see.”

While Mr. Rouhani made broadly similar remarks in his response to a question about his predecessor’s Holocaust denial from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour a day earlier, a conservative Iranian news agency — known for its, at times, comically staunch support of Mr. Ahmadinejad — injected a note of uncertainty by pointing out that the simultaneous translation in that broadcast was inexact. [Continue reading…]

M.J. Rosenberg — who lost relatives in the Holocaust — writes: It’s starting again. The “bomb Iran” crowd are again complaining that President Rouhani is a Holocaust denier like his deranged predecessor.

As Ha’aretz reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu is worried that Rouhani might totally abandon “denial” and leave him with no propaganda points to use for his war-mongering. Top Israeli journalist Chemi Shalev writes that the Holocaust is Netanyahu’s “only ace in the hole” to use against Rouhani who is clearly moving toward compromise on the nuclear issue. Meanwhile Netanyahu looks like the warmonger he is.

I wish Rouhani would just drop the ugly and offensive quibbling about the Holocaust. All he needs to do is speak the truth: the Holocaust happened; 6,000,000 Jews were killed along with millions of others; and the mass killing constituted a crime against humanity.

Period. End of controversy. Friends of both truth and peace celebrate: the war lobby gnashes its teeth.

But Rouhani resists that kind of formulation, although he does condemn the Holocaust.

So what?

If Rouhani is prepared to negotiate over nuclear weapons, why do we care what he says about the Holocaust (it would be different if he acknowledged it and endorsed it). The government of Turkey, our NATO ally, denies the Armenian genocide and Turkey perpetrated it. Japan, our closest friend in Asia, still denies the Rape of Nanking and all the other war crimes Japan committed in China in the 1930′s. Congress forced the Smithsonian Institute to eviscerate its exhibit on the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for hinting that there might have been alternatives to using nuclear weapons. There are dozens of more examples, and (unlike Iran’s) these denials all come from the nations that committed the crimes. [Continue reading…]

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One thought on “What Iran’s president said, is said to have said and says he said

  1. delia ruhe

    Rouhani has a point. The sooner we can get the 6 million who perished in the context of the 60 million who perished in the most barbaric conflagration in human history, the better we’ll be able to study it rationally and thus be in a position to think through the idea that war went out of style with the invention of the nuclear bomb.

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