Washington, Aug 3 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week delivered a new speech full of classic anti-Semitic themes while Palestinians erupted in a spate of Holocaust denial because one of their officials recently visited the Auschwitz death camp.
Speaking to ambassadors from Islamic countries ahead of 'Qods Day' ('Jerusalem Day'), an annual event established in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini to rally support against Israel that falls this year on August 17, Ahmadinejad said that a “horrible Zionist current” had been managing world affairs for “about 400 years.”
Repeating classic anti-Semitic libels, the Iranian president accused ‘Zionists’ of controlling the world's media and financial systems. “Any freedom lover and justice seeker in the world must do its best for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the path for the establishment of justice and freedom in the world,” he declared.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the speech should be a wake-up call for the world and a warning about what might happen should Tehran succeed in developing nuclear weapons.
“Unfortunately these comments do not come as a surprise,” Regev said. “This sort of extreme, poisonous language is unfortunately par for the course for the Iranian leadership.”
Regev said that the international community had the responsibility to “prevent the Iranian regime -- with its fanatical and hate filled agenda – from obtaining nuclear capability.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian media exploded in anger in response to a July 27 visit by Ziad Bandak, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Christian affairs, to the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps. Bandak laid a wreath at the site where Jews and other minorities were murdered during the Holocaust.
The Times of Israel commented: “Holocaust denial is common in official Palestinian discourse, and even the moderate Bethlehem-based Maan news agency referred to Bandak’s visit in Auschwitz as ‘the place where bodies were allegedly burned.”
Hamas also denounced the official's visit and called the Holocaust in which 6 million European Jews perished an “alleged tragedy.”
“It was an unjustified and unhelpful visit that served only the Zionist occupation,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas. Barhoum further called Bandak's visit to Auschwitz, a camp where the Nazis killed 1.5 million people, most of them during World War II, as “a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy.”
“Who among us believes that Hitler burned six million Jews?” asked columnist Issam Shawar. “The false Israeli narrative was refuted beyond doubt. They have exaggerated what had happened in order to garner international sympathy. Over the past years this came at the expense of the Palestinian people,” he added.
The Association of Palestinian communities in Europe also denounced the visit. “In these difficult times when all political avenues are shut, [this visit] has no moral justification,” read a statement issued by the organization Thursday. “It stands outside the national consensus and beyond political correctness.”