Yad Vashem Takes on Tehran Holocaust Deniers
Will the world take action before it is too late?
September 19, 2007 - Audio, 11.00 MIN
(Links at bottom of page to download free viewers.)
Originally Produced December 2006
Some time ago the Bible Magazine visited the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Jerusalem, Israel. Frank Abel spoke with the library director of Yad Vashem for us, and discussed this issue of Holocaust denial. Here is part of that interview.
This is the Bible in the News with Paul Billington talking with you this week about Iran, Holocaust denial, and the response to it by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre in Jerusalem. To many of us, denying the Nazi Holocaust of World War II is only possible if you are a crank--a madman--and obsessed by a hatred of reality as well as of the Jews. It is hard to understand the mind of someone who would blind themselves to all the accumulated evidence that there is. Yet that is what Iran has engaged in. As we will know, President Ahmadinejad of Iran not only denies the fact that six million Jews perished in the Nazi Holocaust, but he wants to repeat the terrible crime by (in his words) wiping Israel off the map. Israel, incidentally, has about 6 million Jews today--so he really does intend to match the exploits of Adolf Hitler!
Frank Abel—:With all the education that Yad Vashem provides, are there still serious Holocaust deniers out there today?
Dr. Robert Rozett--: Yes there are. Holocaust denial is a phenomenon that many trace back to the Nazis themselves. The Nazis tried to get rid of the evidence of the murder of the Jews, and we know that there was a special unit set up, and that in the last year or so of the war they went around burning bodies and trying to get rid of the evidence of what was happening. The denial that we talk about now is really rooted in that, but it took off much more in the late 1960's and into the '70's, and is unfortunately found today in many parts of the world. The Holocaust is so hard to believe--that there were people on the face of the earth in the mid-20th century who sought to wipe out another entire people, simply because they deemed those other people to be dangerous to the world, but not based on anything more than a false ideology. It's very hard for people to come to terms with that. It makes more sense sometimes to believe it didn't happen than to believe it did happen, because we are humanists, and we believe that human beings don't do things like that--but of course they do do things like that. So Holocaust denial is out there and it's in many places and in many forms. We see it a great deal today in the media, and especially on the internet. There are so many sites that push Holocaust denial along with various aspects of antisemitism, anti-Zionism, other Jew-hatreds and xenophobia--all kinds of things that all get mixed together. So there is a lot of Holocaust denial out there.
Frank Abel--: Now there is one term that you used there Rob, that I would like us to get a better handle on--that's anti-Semitism. What would you say anti-Semitism is?
Dr. Robert Rozett--: Anti-Semitism in its colloquial usage is hatred of Jews. It’s a word that is really a misnomer. It's a 19th century word that came into being as people were talking about linguistic groups, and the connection between language groups and race--with the idea that there was some sort of Semitic race--though you cannot really use the term. Hebrew is a Semitic language like Arabic is a Semitic language. So anti-Semitism came into being as 'against Semitism'--as though the Jews were pushing something called Semitism, but it doesn’t exist; there is no such thing. Which is why (by the way) we at Yad Vashem spell it with a small ‘a’ as one word, because there is no anti-slash-semitism. There is no such thing. But it’s the hatred of Jews. By the 19th century anti-Semitism had taken on the component of hatred of Jews that was rooted in Western society for many, many centuries, based on the Jews being different in the Christian world. By the 19th century it was taking on two new aspects; one was the political antisemitism we talk about--the Jews were entering the political process, they were slowly entering daily life as equals in Europe and there was a back-lash to this. It was said that Jews wanted to take over the world. For example, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, this book was put out by the Russian Secret Police at the turn of the 20th century. It became an ingrained myth that the Jews were out to take over the world. That's political anti-Semitism.
Dr. Robert Rozett Continues--: The other is racial anti-Semitism: the Jews were a separate racial group. They have their own specific blood--and the people who really took this as far as it could go were the Nazis of course, with their racial view of the world. Jews were considered to be an inferior race by the Nazis; they were what we could call an anti-race. They were the antithesis of everything that the Germans saw in themselves--blonde, blue-eyed, athletic, creative and good. The Jews were seen as dark, ugly, stooped and destructive--and all because of their blood. That was what was seen in them. So anti-Semitism embodies all of these things.
Since the creation of the State of Israel anti-Semitism has taken on a new component, and that is what we call anti-Zionism. It’s not a rational anti-Zionism; it's not based on any rational thought, but it's a sort of knee-jerk reaction that 'we don't want Israel to exist; we don't want the Jews to have their land; the Jews are different--the Jews should be judged differently and treated differently.' This has also come in now to join what today we call anti-Semitism.
Well this President of Iran has made it clear that HE doesn't want Israel to exist. Psalm 83:4 comes to mind where we read these sentiments:
"They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance."
Also Ezekiel 35:10, speaking of Israel and Judah:
"Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there."
In verse 5 of that chapter it speaks of "a perpetual hatred" against God’s people--and that is exactly what we see in anti-semitism and in anti-Zionism. In both the Scriptures that we have referred to, God says that this is a challenge to Him. Ezekiel 35:13 says: "Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them" (Ezekiel 35:13).
So the boastings of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reach to Heaven.
In an article in the Jerusalem Post this week, Robert Rozett (the librarian that we interviewed at Yad Vashem) wrote the following:
"Words are inadequate to express the feeling of insult, sacrilege and anger that I feel when Ahmadinejad and his ilk call this history into question. It is my family's history, the history of my people, and the shared history of much of the world. It is also the history that my colleagues and I at Yad Vashem can verify and recount in great detail, based on the 110,000 published titles and the 70 million pages of documentation in our collection, and the personal records of a sizable percentage of the individual Jews who were murdered.
It is a history I have shared with countless visitors to Yad Vashem over the years, including presidents and prime ministers. Calling the Holocaust into question can only be likened to questioning if the earth rotates around the sun, or if humans need to breathe to live - but with the addition of a feeling of unfathomable sadness and loss. Debating a Holocaust denier is like debating a person at the beach who swears that the blue-green sea undulating before him is pink.
"Without doubt, Ahmadinejad thinks differently than we do. For him, historical facts are a matter of opinion, and matters of opinion, such as whether Islam is the "true" religion, are facts. It is crystal-clear that the Western notions of proof and logic are not integral to his way of life, but are only manipulated by him for his own ends.
At the upcoming conference in Iran, for certain, the participants will marshal their fallacious evidence to prove their unfounded thesis, eschewing scientific methods for those of pseudo-science and sophistry.
"Denying and ridiculing the Holocaust and refusing to comply with international conventions regarding developing nuclear capabilities are merely expressions of the same arrogance, born of ignorance. Ahmadinejad and his crew have amply demonstrated that they will not be swayed by reasonable argument, but will do whatever they want, regardless of the price for mankind.
"The leaders of the world have yet to find a way to deal with the threat Ahmadinejad poses. The question is: Since words have proven futile, will the world take concerted action before it is too late?"
Well, whether the world takes action or not, we must wait to see--but this challenge to the Almighty will not go unnoticed by the angels. You know what happened to Haman in the book of Esther (it is recorded in chapter 7:10); and you know what happened to Hitler.
With those examples before us we should know what to expect. Meanwhile keep tuning in to the Bible in the News. We will be back again next week, God willing.
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