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The Holocaust cannot be used to justify Israel’s abuse of Palestinians

Israel/Palestine
on 36 Comments

 This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Well the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has admitted the unspeakable – the Holocaust happened.  Now all hell is breaking lose in Iran, Israel and the American Jewish community.   Did President Rouhani really say what he said?  Did he really mean what he said if he said it?

Translation, translation.  Whichever way you parse it, the Holocaust is here to stay.

The Holocaust happened, it really did, and to make it a political football is disgraceful.  But since the Jewish establishments in America and Israel have gorged themselves on the Holocaust to justify the abuse of Palestinians, why shouldn’t Iranian officials and others in the international discourse game abuse the Holocaust as well?

How about,– because two wrongs don’t make a right?

President Rouhani deserves credit for breaking the Holocaust ice when he named the Holocaust as a “crime the Nazis created towards the Jews.”  He also called the Holocaust “reprehensible and condemnable.”  This is quite different than his predecessor who, no matter the disputes over translation, saw the Holocaust as a fabrication.

Whether former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believed his statements about the Holocaust or not – whether they were political ploys for domestic consumption – is beside the point.  Ahmadinejad was a Holocaust denier.  Rouhani is not.

Should it matter what either think of a historical event of such magnitude?  That’s another story.  But as President Rouhani also commented, the Holocaust cannot be used to justify Israel’s abuse of Palestinians.  This is the correct position.

Is that enough for Jewish leadership in Israel and America?  Of course not.  They want Iran on their Holocaust knees for political reasons.  With the world on their Holocaust knees, Israel is unaccountable for its deeds.  So Israel and many Jews believe.

Admitting the Holocaust.  Even Jews of Conscience swallow hard when they hear the Holocaust named.  Jews of Conscience have every right to object to the Holocaust being used politically.  It isn’t only used against Iran, it’s used against them.

Now we have a new opening on the world scene if President Rouhani can survive his own domestic opposition to naming the Holocaust.  Iranians in the political realm don’t want to give over anything to Israel without Israel giving something to them.  This is understandable in the world of politics.  But a new opening of honesty and truth bodes well for the future.

President Rouhani has opened a new path for Jews of Conscience on Iran, Israel and the Palestinians.  We are in his debt.  What we need now is a mature response from Jews around the world.

The Holocaust happened.  What Jews have done and are doing to the Palestinians is wrong.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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36 Responses

  1. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    September 26, 2013, 11:29 am

    Why keep focus on this non issue that only benefit Israel?

    Ahmadinejad did not deny it btw.

  2. lohdennis
    lohdennis
    September 26, 2013, 12:50 pm

    Excellent summary. What President Rouhani said here is extremely sensible. While the extremists on both sides can quibble about what it means, the rest of the world can move on and make Holocaust less of an issue in dealing with Iran. I think it will quickly pass over as the overall narrative has dramatically changed in the last month or so. I’m cautiously hopeful.

  3. Ludwig
    Ludwig
    September 26, 2013, 12:56 pm

    The Iranian official news agency says this was a mistranslation. Rouhani never acknowledged the holocaust even occurred.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      September 26, 2013, 2:53 pm

      “Rouhani never acknowledged the holocaust even occurred.”

      That’s a lie. Rouhani specifically stated that he “fully condemn[s] any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout the history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jews.”

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      September 26, 2013, 3:21 pm

      Who cares if he did or not.

      Abbas wrote a paper Holocaust denial paper didn’t he?

      And plenty of Israeli politicians deny the Nakba. Most Israelis deny the Nakba or justify it.

      So your concern trolling is especially hypocritical.

      Instead of focusing on the Iranian whatever, get out of Palestinian territory and pay reparations for 60 years of murder and ethnic cleansing you thief.

      • talknic
        talknic
        September 26, 2013, 3:30 pm

        @ Cliff “Abbas wrote a paper Holocaust denial paper didn’t he?”

        I believe it was a thesis on Holocaust denial. Quite different from a ‘Holocaust denial’ paper.

  4. Seth Edenbaum
    Seth Edenbaum
    September 26, 2013, 1:31 pm

    “Well the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has admitted the unspeakable – the Holocaust happened. Now all hell is breaking lose in Iran, Israel and the American Jewish community. Did President Rouhani really say what he said? Did he really mean what he said if he said it?”

    According to Fars, he said this:

    “I have said before that I am not a historian and historians should specify, state and explain the aspects of historical events, but generally we fully condemn any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout the history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jews, the same way that if today any crime is committed against any nation or any religion or any people or any belief, we condemn that crime and genocide. Therefore, what the Nazis did is condemned, but the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers, I am not a history scholar.”
    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920703001316

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      September 26, 2013, 2:27 pm

      Yes, noob, a number of people posted this language and/or links to it. What is your point, or do you not have one?

      • Seth Edenbaum
        Seth Edenbaum
        September 26, 2013, 6:48 pm

        The main difference seems to be between the focus on Nazi crimes specifically against Jews, as opposed to Jews among others.

        CNN also included this: “but this doesn’t mean that on the other hand you can say Nazis committed crime against a group now therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This too is an act that should be condemned. There should be an even-handed discussion”.

        So according to CNN Rouhani referred to the Nakba, while Fars says he didn’t.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        September 27, 2013, 8:23 am

        “The main difference seems to be between the focus on Nazi crimes specifically against Jews, as opposed to Jews among others. ”

        Well, since it is a plain historical fact that the Nazis’ crimes (including the crime of genocide) were not limited to Jews, specifically, but included crimes against the Jews and non-Jews, then it appears that Rouhani’s statement is more historically appropriate than one which simply looks at the Nazis’ crimes against the Jews, wouldn’t you agree?

        “So according to CNN Rouhani referred to the Nakba, while Fars says he didn’t.”

        I would like to see a full transcript. I wonder if that portion in the CNN translation isn’t a reference to another portion of the interview.

  5. annie
    annie
    September 26, 2013, 1:48 pm

    what i can’t figure out is why, with so much going on in the world, wrt iran, syria, the nuclear issue, etc, why even ask rouhani about the holocaust. it has nothing to do with iran, or him, or what’s going on today.

    i just do not get why, when a big news agency gets the opportunity to interview the president of iran they ask him questions about the holocaust. it strikes me as very OT.

    • yrn
      yrn
      September 26, 2013, 6:32 pm

      You must be very disappointed that it came out that he did not say what you wanted him to say….
      Why they ask him, there must be a reason, see how Iran press is screaming that he did not say the words regarding the Holocaust you wanted to hear, so there is an issue why they ask him the question.
      as he escaped from the answer and the Iran press pushed it further that “oy vey” he did not say what you all wanted to hear.

      • annie
        annie
        September 27, 2013, 1:09 am

        what do you mean ‘what i wanted him to say’? i would have been fine with him not addressing it at all. why should any leader in this century have to make some public statement about the holocaust? what’s his opinion about the holodomor? after all he’s interacting with russia! and what does he think of franco’s spain while we’re at it, or mussolini. i think what fars said he said was fine. i’d really rather he wasn’t asked. it’s simply not relevant to today’s politics.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        September 27, 2013, 1:29 am

        Annie- No one asked Ahmadinejad to convene a Holocaust denial conference. As a result of that, Ahmadinejad’s successor had to face this question.

      • just
        just
        September 27, 2013, 3:12 am

        BS, yonah.

        BS.

        Where are all of the Israeli ‘leaders’ acknowledging the ongoing Nakba???

      • yrn
        yrn
        September 27, 2013, 8:53 am

        Annie Robbins
        When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad The President of Iran, hosts Holocaust denial conferences with Notable Holocaust deniers attendees included David Duke, , Robert Faurisson, Gerald Fredrick Töben, Richard Krege, Michèle Renouf, Ahmed Ramiand and gives a Medal to the world famous Holocaust denier “Robert Faurisson” for his “professional” work regarding Holocaust denial.
        It has more then a personal issue, it’s a president of a country issue.
        It want help you to try and push away the Holocaust denial in Iran.
        So you don’t have to be too intelligent to expect that he as the following president will be asked regarding his Holocaust denial, if you like it or not.

      • annie
        annie
        September 27, 2013, 10:00 am

        look on the bright side, it was only a conference. he didn’t start another holocaust, genocide iraqis or rain down CW’s on fallujah or gaza, frying little babies into crisp bundles… like we know who.

      • yrn
        yrn
        September 28, 2013, 9:12 am

        just

        The Israeli ‘leaders’ are not hosting a Nakba Denial conference and inviting ALL world famous Muslim Haters and giving them Medals.

      • annie
        annie
        September 28, 2013, 9:40 am

        The Israeli ‘leaders’ are not hosting a Nakba Denial conference

        no, they’re hosting live ethnic cleanings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqVJo6nMSjo

        which is worse yrn? conferences or the ongoing nakba? this was just filmed:

        On Monday, September 16, 2013: residents of Khirbet Makhul were woken up at 5:00 am to the sound of Israeli military bulldozers, escorted by Civil Administration teams, who started demolishing the houses in the area without prior warning.

        reams of bandwidth has already been dedicated to discussing that conference in 05 or 06 or whenever it was. thousands of homes have been demolished since then. thousands of innocent people are impacted daily by the ongoing nakba.

      • yrn
        yrn
        September 28, 2013, 9:47 am

        Annie Robbins.
        You mention that the Iran official Holocaust denial conference, that honored all
        The Notable Holocaust deniers attendees David Duke, Robert Faurisson, Gerald Fredrick Töben, Richard Krege, Michèle Renouf, Ahmed Ramiand
        all known as notorious Jew Haters.
        Was only a conference and I should look at the bright side.
        What bright side should I look upon as a Jew.

      • annie
        annie
        September 28, 2013, 9:48 am

        Who is the threat? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWXI-6cAqsg

        watch, watch as the settlers come barbwire the home and animals of those they want to ethnically cleanse then the army comes…wake up!

      • annie
        annie
        September 28, 2013, 10:03 am

        What bright side should I look upon as a Jew.

        i already told you: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/holocaust-israels-palestinians.html/comment-page-1#comment-597325

        look on the bright side, it was only a conference. he didn’t start another holocaust, genocide iraqis or rain down CW’s on fallujah or gaza, frying little babies into crisp bundles

        what do you mean by as a Jew? what am i supposed to make of that? are you suggesting that as a Jew genociding iraqis or raining down chemical weapons on fallujah or gaza or syria or little babies fried into crisp bundles does not impact you? the ‘bright side’ is it does not compare to actually killing people or ethnically cleansing them from the land or an invasion. ‘look on the bright side’ is an idiom yrn. meant to compare crimes or infractions. obviously. the holocaust cannot be used to justify israel’s abuse of palestinians.

        yes, it was a conference and not one person, jew or non jew had their home destroyed as a result of it. not one person died as a result of it, no village gone/destroyed. everyday crimes of much larger magnitude occur because of israel’s ongoing nakba. children suffer everyday because of crimes occurring right now.

      • talknic
        talknic
        September 28, 2013, 12:01 pm

        yrn “You mention that the Iran official Holocaust denial conference”

        Uh? Why don’t you call it by the “official” name?

      • yrn
        yrn
        September 28, 2013, 4:13 pm

        talknic

        You mean the Holocaust denial conference.
        You better ask her, I sent all the information about the conference and the list of all the Jew Haters attendance.
        all the information I sent deleted.

      • annie
        annie
        September 28, 2013, 4:31 pm

        yrn, your two post with the attendees are right here, they were not deleted:

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/holocaust-israels-palestinians.html/comment-page-1#comment-597317

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/09/holocaust-israels-palestinians.html/comment-page-1#comment-597636

        if there were other posts i didn’t see them.

        i think you have made your point (again and again), and willfully ignored mine, which is to be expected. i won’t be clearing anymore of your redundant comments about the conference.

  6. German Lefty
    German Lefty
    September 26, 2013, 2:12 pm

    So, Rouhani admitted that the Holocaust happened and was a crime. When will Netanyahu follow this example by admitting that the Nakba happened and is a crime?

  7. LanceThruster
    LanceThruster
    September 26, 2013, 2:18 pm

    “Never again” could have truly been a rallying cry to protect every person and community from such injustices but instead was often an excuse to subject others such oppression.

  8. seafoid
    seafoid
    September 26, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Rouhani should have gone further and said that Israel’s treatment of the elderly and poor Shoah survivors living in Israel whose reparations money has all been spent is a disgrace and would never be tolerated by the Jews in Iran or ,indeed, Iranian culture.

    I wish some Muslim politician could get up and hit the bots in the gonads with their own hasbara.

  9. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    September 26, 2013, 7:17 pm

    RE: “Is that enough for Jewish leadership in Israel and America? Of course not. They want Iran on their Holocaust knees for political reasons. With the world on their Holocaust knees, Israel is unaccountable for its deeds” ~ Marc Ellis [i.e., “the world on their Holocaust knees” acts as Israel’s enablers and co-dependents. – J.L.D.]

    SEE: “Gunter the Terrible”, By Uri Avnery, The Palestine Chronicle, 4/13/12

    [EXCERPT] Stop me if I have told you this joke before:
    Somewhere in the US, a demonstration takes place. The police arrive and beat the protesters mercilessly.
    “Don’t hit me,” someone shouts, “I am an anti-communist!”
    “I couldn’t give a damn what kind of a communist you are!” a policeman answers as he raises his baton.
    The first time I told this joke was when a German group visited the Knesset and met with German-born members, including me.
    They went out of their way to praise Israel, lauding everything we had been doing, condemning every bit of criticism, however harmless it might be. It became downright embarrassing
    , since some of us in the Knesset were very critical of our government’s policy in the occupied territories.
    For me, this extreme kind of pro-Semitism is just disguised anti-Semitism. Both have a basic belief in common: that Jews – and therefore Israel – are something apart, not to be measured by the standards applied to everybody else. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=19233

  10. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    September 26, 2013, 7:28 pm

    RE: “Iranians in the political realm don’t want to give over anything to Israel without Israel giving something to them.” ~ Marc Ellis

    IN OTHER WORDS: The Iranians do not want to be frayers*! ! !

    * SEE: James’ Journey to Jerusalem (Massa’ot James Be’eretz Hakodesh), 2004, NR, 87 minutes
    In the imaginary village of Entshongweni [probably somewhere in Africa], far from western civilization, young James is chosen to undertake a mission — a pilgrimage to holy Jerusalem. But Israel is no longer the Holy Land that James and his people imagined. When he’s suspected of trying to infiltrate the country to work illegally, James’s journey takes him through the cruel heart of our [i.e., Israel’s] economic system, as he learns the tricks of the game [how to avoid becoming a “frayer”] and plays it toward an inevitable end.
    Director: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz
    Language: Hebrew (with English subtitles)
    Netflix format: DVD
    Netflix listing – http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/James-Journey-to-Jerusalem/60037222?trkid=190393
    IMDb – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0305178/
    Massa’ot James Be’eretz Hakodesh (2003) – movie trailer [VIDEO, 01:38] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRM4XlFPea

  11. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    September 27, 2013, 7:24 am

    I thought Ahmadinejad wanted some historical records opened up so that numbers could be looked at. Did he really deny the Holocaust or was he questioning numbers?

    Can anyone explain why the US MSM and most individuals seldom mention the millions of others who were murdered in Hitler’s death camps. Seems some can easily dispense even with the accounting of other lives lost.

    As a kid obsessed with reading about WWIi I always wondered how could people be so brutal? And of course only Jews were talked about being killed in many of the books that I read about that horrific genocide. How could so many just stand to the side and do nothing.

    And yet the U.S. invades Iraq, hundreds of thousands die, are injured,millions displaced and now Iraq is over run with Al Qeada etc and the killing still is going on. And Americans have little to no idea about how many Iraqi people were killed, tortured in their names. Many have just stood by. Ok the numbers are very different but that does not dismiss the value of these people’s lives and the pain and devastation that has been caused by what our military did in Iraq. And the majority of people do not seem to care at all.

    My friend Peggy Gish a Christian Peace Maker team member who has literally spent over six years in Iraq. She was there four months before the invasion and has said that many Iraqi people believe that the Bush administration (Feith, Cheney, Cambone, Rumsfeld) never wanted peace in Iraq in fact wanted a consistent level of in fighting…chaos so that the oil industry could be grabbed up for the multinationals and the regime who Israel felt was a threat was gone.

    Millions stood by while millions of Jews, Poles, Gypsies were being slaughtered. Millions of Americans stood by while hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people were slaughtered. Different numbers same horrible consequences. The indifference is terrifying

    • Shegetz
      Shegetz
      September 27, 2013, 8:05 am

      And of course only Jews were talked about being killed in many of the books that I read about that horrific genocide.

      I’ve always made the point that my people lost 80+ million during WWII.

      You know, human people.

      • yrn
        yrn
        September 28, 2013, 8:44 am

        Shegetz
        No one ever tried to deny the point that your people lost 80+ million during WWII, As the regime in Iran dose and last president of Iran.

      • American
        American
        September 28, 2013, 9:05 am

        yrn says:
        September 28, 2013 at 8:44 am

        Shegetz
        No one ever tried to deny the point that your people lost 80+ million during WWII, As the regime in Iran dose and last president of Iran.>>>>

        You miss the point as usual—-Jews ARE INCLUDED in that 8o million ‘humans’ who died.
        What you do is the opposite , you ‘single out’ what happen to the Jews as more important than what happened to anyone else — ever in the whole world.

    • German Lefty
      German Lefty
      October 1, 2013, 11:17 am

      @ Kathleen

      Did he really deny the Holocaust or was he questioning numbers?

      In a Spiegel interview Ahmadinejad said:
      “We don’t want to confirm or deny the Holocaust. We oppose every type of crime against any people. But we want to know whether this crime actually took place or not. If it did, then those who bear the responsibility for it have to be punished, and not the Palestinians. […]
      We are saying that if the Holocaust occurred, then Europe must draw the consequences and that it is not Palestine that should pay the price for it. If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from. I believe that the German people today are also prisoners of the Holocaust. Sixty million people died in the Second World War. World War II was a gigantic crime. We condemn it all. We are against bloodshed, regardless of whether a crime was committed against a Muslim or against a Christian or a Jew. But the question is: Why among these 60 million victims are only the Jews the center of attention?”
      http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/spiegel-interview-with-iran-s-president-ahmadinejad-we-are-determined-a-418660.html
      Ahmadinejad said pretty much the same stuff that Rouhani is saying now.

      Can anyone explain why the US MSM and most individuals seldom mention the millions of others who were murdered in Hitler’s death camps.

      No idea about other people, but I can tell you why I focus on the Jewish victims. It’s because Jews are the only victim group that currently commits crimes. And they misuse Nazi crimes to justify or distract from their own crimes. If gay people or gypsies did something like this, I would talk about them and their double standards much more often.

      Millions stood by while millions of Jews, Poles, Gypsies were being slaughtered. Millions of Americans stood by while hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people were slaughtered. The indifference is terrifying.

      The difference is that Nazi Germany was a dictatorship, whereas the USA is a democracy. US citizens would not have risked their lives if they spoke up.

  12. edwardm
    edwardm
    September 27, 2013, 10:21 am

    Abbas’ paper was on the Haavara agreement.
    A quote from another attendee to the famous conference in Iran. The last sentence is key.
    “Now maybe I can say that at the discussion of the holocaust, I may be the representative, the voice of the people who died in the holocaust because my grandparents died there. They were killed in Auschwitz. My parents were from Hungary. My father escaped and his parents remained. He wasn’t able to get them out of Hungary and they died in Auschwitz as were other relatives and all the communities that they knew. So to say that they didn’t die, to me you cannot say that. I am the living remnant of the people who died in the holocaust and I am here, I believe sent by God, to humbly say, simply to speak to the people here and say, ‘You should know that the Jewish people died, and do not try to say that it did not happen. They did die!’ There are people throughout the Jewish communities, still alive in their seventies and eighties and every one of them will tell you their stories. It is something which you can not refute, but that being said, it doesn’t mean that the holocaust is a tool to use to oppress other people.” – Dovid Weiss

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