They said, he said

In light of the Iranian leadership’s views towards Jews and the Holocaust, a German Muslim group is hitting back:

A Muslim cultural institute in Germany on Monday criticised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for disparaging the Holocaust, daring him to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“In this place of horror he can again deny the Holocaust, if he has the courage,” a spokesman for the Islam-Archiv-Deutschland Central Institute told the German Catholic press agency KNA.

In recent statements, the hardline Iranian president has dismissed the Nazis’ systematic slaughter of mainland Europe’s Jews as a “myth” used to justify the creation of Israel and called for the state to be “wiped off the map”.

By denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad not only denigrated the Jewish victims of the genocide but also the 200,000 Roms and Arabs murdered in the “gypsy camp” of Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps, the institute spokesman said.

The fact that the president of an Islamic state repeated Nazi anti-Semitism was harmful to the image of Islam and “a disgrace for all the world’s Muslims”, he added.

The article, published in the European Jewish Press, concludes with the following:

A controversial contest for cartoons of the Holocaust was launched in Iran on Monday in a tit-for-tat move over European newspaper publications of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that have angered Muslims worldwide.

The first entry was said to be from renowned Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig, according to the website organising the competition with Iran’s biggest-selling newspaper Hamshahri.

As we know, Leunig’s “entry” was a hoax. The Murdoch press is happy to continue the controversy, however, with an article in today’s Herald Sun that says Jewish groups believe Leunig’s cartoon “identifies Israel as a Nazi state.” Leunig, meanwhile, tells the Australian Jewish News (February 17) that his views on the conflict are not directed at Jews themselves:

“I admire what the Jews have done for the world. I have no problems with Jews, or with Israel, not even a problem with the Israeli Government – just one aspect of their policy.”

It seems self-evident. Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionist are Jews. An individual should be able to criticise the Jewish state’s actions without fear of being labelled an “anti-Semite.”