In the wake of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s comments acknowledging that the Holocaust took place, the Anti-Defamation League said it was “about time” an Iranian leader recognized the Holocaust but denounced his insinuation that survivors then expelled Palestinians from their homes in a comparable fashion.
Rouhani “engaged in the more subtle form of Holocaust revisionism,” read the statement released September 25 by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, “minimizing it by accusing the Jewish survivors of taking vengeance on the Palestinians in fulfilling their 2,000-year-old dream of returning to their homeland, Israel. This was a gratuitous swipe at the survivors.
“There is no moral equivalency between the slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other innocent men, women and children in the Nazi gas chambers and the plight of the Palestinian people living in the West Bank and Gaza.”
“The Iranians, apparently, are willing to come only so far,” the statement concluded.
In a CNN interview last Tuesday with Christiane Amanpour, Rouhani emphasized, after denouncing the Nazi genocide, that “this does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say, well, the Nazis committed crimes against, you know, a certain group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned, in our view.”
The comments were considered a major break from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, repeatedly during his eight-year, two-term presidency, derided the mass murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany as a “myth” and a “great deception of the Holocaust” generated by Israel.
The next day, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency, said to be close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, claimed that CNN fabricated Rouhani’s remarks in the interview.
The news agency said that Rouhani had not used the word “Holocaust” and denied that he had called it “reprehensible.”
“CNN aired its interview with Rouhani on Tuesday but the news channel added to or changed parts of his remarks,” the Fars report stated.
The American news network, using an interpreter provided by the Iranian government, had quoted Rouhani as saying the following (the entire transcript of the interview can be found here):
“I’ve said before that I am not a historian and then, when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust, it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that Nazis committed towards the Jews as well as non-Jews is reprehensible and condemnable…
“Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim or what…. For us it is the same…It’s actually something that we condemn and our religion also rejects…”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.