You Can’t Make Peace With Antisemites
The time has come for Israel to stop willfully ignoring the phenomenon of Holocaust denial in the Arab world, and start fighting it. Dialogue and rapprochement cannot possibly start from a position of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
In Israel, as well as in several Western countries, Holocaust denial is a criminal offense punishable by a prison sentence. In Arab countries, this is far from the case. In these countries, not only is the Holocaust not taught in schools, but its existence is actively denied — an act of harm directed at both Israel and the Jewish people in general.
In a particularly gruesome example, journalists and researchers in Jordan attended a conference on October 14 entitled “The Holocaust — The Biggest Lie in Modern History.”
A video posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) exposed racist utterances by several of the panelists. The number of victims to perish in the concentration camps was stated as having been between 600,000 and 800,000, and only half of them, so it was ahistorically alleged, were Jews.
In another antisemitic trope, one panelist evoked the “destructive influence” of Jews in German society. It was suggested, despite the abundance of documented and readily accessible evidence, that nothing — no bodies, ashes, gas chambers, or anything else — has been found to support the premise that the Holocaust ever happened. Evoking Joseph Goebbels’ famous quip that persistently repeating a big lie will eventually lead people to believe it, one panelist described the (supposed) “Jewish version” of the Holocaust as, “Lie and lie again until you believe yourself.”
This despicable conference could not have taken place without the approval of the Jordanian government, whose officials publicly and blatantly deny the Holocaust. Doing so is to falsify history and science, and reject facts and decades-long academic research. Events like this encourage Holocaust denial and spur antisemitism, which is on the rise throughout the Arab world and across the globe.
It was overwhelmingly clear that the purpose of the conference was to demonize Jews and delegitimize Israel by minimizing both the importance and scope of the Holocaust, which is misperceived by Arabs and their Western champions as the foremost justification for Israel’s establishment. No one who supports such an event can be considered a real peace partner.
In a misguided effort to prioritize other matters, Israel has failed to expose and counter the growing phenomenon of Holocaust denial in the Arab world in general and the Palestinian Authority in particular — not least since Mahmoud Abbas blatantly expressed such denial in his Soviet-written doctoral dissertation and attendant book. The time has come to stop ignoring this phenomenon and start fighting it. Dialogue and rapprochement cannot possibly start from a position of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
Dr. Edy Cohen is a researcher at the BESA Center and author of the book The Holocaust in the Eyes of Mahmoud Abbas (Hebrew).
A version of this article was originally published by Israel Today and The BESA Center.