Sunday, January 15, 2006

Islamism and Anti-Semitism

Today, the Iranian Islamist dictatorship of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad announced yet another step in its campaign to make Iran the world capital of Holocaust denial:

Iran, whose president has labeled the attempt by Nazi Germany to exterminate Jews during World War II a "myth" and called for the destruction of Israel, announced Sunday it will hold a conference on the Holocaust.

"There will be a conference that will research the topic of the Holocaust and all its dimensions in the future," according to a statement on the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

It is a safe bet that any connection between the opinions to be voiced at this conference and historical truth will be strictly coincidental.

The danger posed by Ahmedinejad's espousal of Holocaust denial is that it is symptomatic of a much larger and extremely dangerous ideology of hate, that in Iran's case is well on the way to obtaining nuclear weapons. MEMRI and the Anti-Defamation League have long documented the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism in the Muslim Middle East, a phenomenon that goes far beyond mere dislike of the state of Israel. As Joseph Loconte noted in a recent essay for the Weekly Standard, anti-Semitism has become an essential part of radical Islamist ideology, in both its Shia and Sunni variants:

The rise of Islamo-fascism in Tehran, in fact, is not at all beyond comprehension. Its emergence is perfectly predictable--given the political theology of radical Islam and the culture of victimization that sustains it. Like his mentor, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad embraces an extremist Shiite view of purity, obedience, death, and redemption. Bush deserves much credit for recognizing this ideology for what it is: the totalitarian impulse, inspired by utopian illusions and sanctified by the pathology of anti-Semitism.

Osama bin Laden and his allies, after all, have repeatedly expressed their hatred not only of America but of Israel and Jews everywhere. In a tape that surfaced recently in Cairo, bin Laden deputy Ayman Al-Zawahri again urged Muslims to take up arms against the "malignant illness" of Israel and the Christian West. Bush critics imply that this message resonates with the "Arab street" because of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians (and America's support for Israel). More likely is the fact that anti-Semitism rises like a vapor from the political and cultural swamps of the Arab world. Television programs, newspapers, internet cafes, universities, mosques, religious schools--here and elsewhere Jews are regularly depicted as "satanic" enemies of Islam and instigators of U.S. intervention in Muslim lands. Holocaust denial is routine. A columnist for the Egyptian paper Al-Masaa, for example, defended the Iranian president's outbursts with these words: "What this truth means is that these massacres . . . never happened. The famous execution chambers were no more than rooms for disinfecting clothing."

When anti-Semites try to deny the Holocaust, it is usually because they one day wish to reenact it. Those who believe that we can "live with" a nuclear-armed Islamist Iran would do well to keep this in mind.


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