U.S. Holocaust museum urges world leaders to press Iran on Holocaust denial

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum urged world leaders to press Iran’s leadership on its Holocaust denial during the UN General Assembly.

“We want to make sure that the upcoming discussion at the United Nations is informed by facts about official Iranian efforts to promote racism and extremism in the form of Holocaust denial,” Tad Stahnke, the director of the museum’s initiative against Holocaust denial, said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters as the General Assembly formally launched in New York.

Stahnke and Maziar Bahari, an Iranian filmmaker, cautioned against believing claims by reputed moderates like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that the government of Iran repudiates Holocaust denial.

They noted that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, questioned the veracity of the Holocaust as recently as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January.

They also noted the most recent Holocaust cartoon contest in May, and said Zarif and others played word games when they said there was no “government” involvement. There are two “governments” in Iran, they said, and while the formal government may avoid Holocaust denial, the “system” of semi- and quasi-governmental authorities, including the Revolutionary Guard, is steeped in it.

The Holocaust museum’s website includes pages exposing Iranian Holocaust denial and pages in Persian explaining the Holocaust.

Also featured on the website is a short film about Abdolhossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat in Paris who rescued Jews during the Holocaust by issuing them passports.

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