Following Iran’s recent Holocaust conference, many in the Western media has chosen to portray all Iranians as tainted by the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brush. This is patently untrue and debate within Iran proves this.
The source of a perhaps unlikely rebuke of Ahmadinejad’s views on the Holocaust has emerged from former Palestinian militant Mahmoud Al-Safadi. He was imprisoned in Israel for eighteen years and freed in 2006. His letter to the Iranian leader was written before the conference but the message is clear:
First of all, allow me to introduce myself: Mahmoud Al-Safadi, a former prisoner from occupied Jerusalem. I was released less than three months ago from the Israeli prison where I had been locked up for eighteen years for having been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and having taken an active part in resistance to the occupation during the first Intifada. Since you were elected president, I have followed your declarations with great interest — in particular those relating to the Holocaust. I respect your opposition to the American and Western injunctions concerning the Iranian nuclear program and believe it legitimate that you complain of the double standard that the world has with regard to the nuclear development of certain regimes.
But I am furious about your insistence on claiming that the Holocaust never took place and about your doubts about the number of Jews who were murdered in the extermination and concentration camps, organized massacres, and gas chambers, consequently denying the universal historical significance of the Nazi period.
Allow me to say, Mr. President, with all due respect to you, that you made these statements without really knowing the Nazi industry of death. To have read the works of some deniers seems to be enough for you – a little like a man who shouts above a well and hears only the echo of his own voice. I believe that a man in your position should not make such an enormous error, because it could be turned against him and, worse still, his people.