Iran Blocks Websites Promoting Holocaust Education, State Department Report Says
The government of Iran has continued to block the website of an initiative aimed at fostering a warmer Jewish-Muslim relationship and educating about the Holocaust, the State Department report on human rights in Iran revealed.
“The government continued to block the Persian language website of the Aladdin Project, a foreign-based NGO launched by the foreign Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah that provided information about the Holocaust and Jewish-Muslim relations,” said the report, which was released last Thursday after protracted delays.
The Aladdin Project was founded with U.N. support and has since been supported by 1,000 intellectuals, academics and public figures from 50 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America, “to counter the falsification of history in the shape of Holocaust denial and trivialization.”
According to the report, “officials continued to question the history and uniqueness of the Holocaust.” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was rebuked last year when he called the Holocaust a “horrible tragedy” during an interview with a German television station. And Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made remarks questioning the reality of the Holocaust and wondering if it “actually did happen.”
Iran has a Jewish population of about 25,000, and one member of its parliament is Jewish.
Other countries where antisemitism occurred at the highest echelons of government included Venezuela, with a Jewish population of about 9,000, where President Nicolas Maduro compared Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge to the Holocaust.
In Turkey, which has a Jewish community of about 20,000, the report noted a rise in antisemitic incidents in 2014, perhaps spurred in part by the Gaza war. The State Department report said Turkish officials and the media often generalized criticisms of Israel to include all Jews.
Antisemitism also made it to Turkish pop culture, when in July 2014, “pop singer Yildiz Tilbe tweeted a series of anti-Semitic messages, including ‘May God bless Hitler,’ in connection with her condemnation of Israeli actions in Gaza,” according to the state department report.
And in South Africa, which has a Jewish population of between 75,000-80,000, ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duart indirectly compared Israel to Nazi Germany and the Gaza operation to the Holocaust.
The State Department country-by-country reports were released last Thursday after several months of delays and postponements.