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.