Sep 15, 2008

Denial in Tehran

the following is an older piece that received limited publication. originally drafted for threewayfight, we are now republishing it because of its continued relevance. the article was initially submitted by threewayfight's sometime contributor, Saddam Khomeini

by Saddam Khomeini

Friday, December 08, 2006

The much-publicized Holocaust Conference has opened in Tehran, Iran and will doubtless attract more than its fair share of international criticism. Even the sole Jewish representative in the Majles - Iranian parliament - has publicly criticized it.

"Denying it [the Holocaust] is a huge insult," he said. "By holding this conference, they [the government] are continuing to insult the Jewish community."

It appears to be a weird scene, with white supremacist David Duke and Orthodox Jewish Rabbis together under the auspices of an Islamic fundamentalist government. One can also see the irony of a Holocaust revisionist gathering in a country with name that translates into English, "Land Of The Aryans."

Much will be said by the media about "Islamo-fascism" and the presence of Duke will no doubt be having certain people expand upon that and claim there's even a convergence of interests between Muslim fundamentalism and neo-Nazism.

It's highly unlikely that Tehran even cares about white power, much less seeking an alliance with it; likewise, neither is the veracity of the Holocaust the point of this conference, either.

It seems that one of the reasons for the conference is to embarrass the West on its double standards when it comes to Israel, because of the perception that the Holocaust is used as a weapon to silence critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

On this point the Islamic Republic may have a point - it is illegal in many western countries to deny the Holocaust, a curious phenomenon given the supposed respect for freedom of speech and thought in the West, a pillar that many writers and intellectuals claimed to defend in the face of Muslim "violence" that roiled in the face of the Danish Muhammad cartoons. Likewise, such a conference would serve to rally the predominantly Arabic region by showing whose more anti-Israel. Again, the West - the United States, especially - deserves blame for being pro-Israel, and hence pro-apartheid, for so long.

Regardless, Holocaust revisionism, or denial - whatever one calls it - has only one goal and that is to revive fascism as a viable political alternative. Again, Tehran doesn't have a vested interest in neo-Nazism, but its so-called conference may serve to embolden the right, for that it should be condemned.

Another reason for this conference, as well as Ahmadinejad's actions in general, may have as much to do with internal politics as it does with anything else. In this, the Islamic Republic has something in common with their enemy, Israel, in that their larger actions are largely motivated by domestic concerns.

When the Jewish state attacked Lebanon, killing 1300 Lebanese civilians and destroying the infrastructure because two IDF soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah - a fair trade - PM Ehud Olmert and DM Amir Peretz may have been motivated by domestic concerns as well as regional hegemonic ones, as well.

After alienating the Israeli right by disengaging from Gaza, and Ariel Sharon's stroke, Olmert had to find a way to show he was still a badass with the Kung Fu action grip. Prior to assuming the top post, Olmert's career was largely minor cabinet posts and as mayor of Jerusalem, and his later, bigger posts came only because of his association with Sharon. In short, he's Sharon's "mini-me." And nothing says proving oneself in the political sphere than waging war. Likewise, his DM Peretz's biggest post prior was head of the Histadrut, Israel's oldest and largest trade union.

In short, war.

Similarly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a relative unknown in Iranian politics, and his previous job was Mayor of Tehran. After becoming president, he sought to fulfill his vision of a neo-Khomeinist government and further marginalizing the reformist movement. In order to do that, he found ways to isolate them by attacking the core principle of that movement - the West. Many reformists, from former president Khatami to former political prisoner Akbar Ganji have called for re-establishing relations with the United States, as well as closer ties to West in general.

Since the Holocaust is a secular religion in the West and a sacred cow, Ahmadinejad attacked the Holocaust as a way to derail that process, and hence derail any opposition to the regime itself. While doing so, he replaced many diplomats with those more loyal to him, banned western music, etc. under the cover of his comments, which also included calling for Israel, or the Zionist regime, - another sacred cow - to be wiped off the map.

(His infamous comment may have been mistranslated, purposely perhaps, has some people have told me. The purpose and the effect of such a statement, however, is still the same.)

So the real significance of the Holocaust Conference is this: Iran is doing a great disservice to both Iranians and the anti-fascist movement for giving legitimacy to Holocaust revisionism, Israel and its allies do a great disservice to Palestinians and anti-fascists for using the Holocaust as a means to justify its actions and to silence any subsequent criticism and the West - particularly Europe -does a huge disservice to democracy and anti-fascism by criminalizing denial and hence, giving Nazis a platform and setting a precedent to criminalize other political thought deemed bad, laws which almost always attack the left, including, you guessed it, anti-fascists.