The vile rhetoric of antisemitism pervades the Muslim world. Malicious myths and unfounded assumptions about Jews have become all too commonplace. No where else in the world today are Jews so openly maligned and excoriated.
Two examples will suffice.
On the eve of leaving office, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a brazen admission that Holocaust denial was one of the major achievements of his two-term presidency. As he put it, “There was a taboo topic that no one in the West allowed to be heard. We put in forward at the global level.”
Repeatedly, Ahmadinejad challenged the veracity of the Holocaust, suggesting its truthfulness could only be validated through further research and clarification. What arrant nonsense! The Holocaust is a seminal historical event, period. It happened. Nazi documents, first-hand testimonies by survivors and perpetrators alike and the ruins of German extermination camps in Poland attest to it. Historians, having sifted through the evidence and interviewed survivors, have written monographs and books about this unprecedented event. Only antisemites, be they subtle or not, deny that the Holocaust took place. Much to Iran’s discredit, Ahmadinejad cast his lot with these ignorant and hateful deniers.
One hopes that his successor, Hassan Rouhani, who promises to lead Iran on a path of moderation, will boldly disavow Ahmadninejad’s unenlightened, inaccurate and hurtful comments on the Holocaust.
Iran has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by disseminating Holocaust denial.
Unfortunately, this is not the sole problem Muslims must resolve.
Recently, Khaiber, a television series broadcast in the Arab world, was launched to coincide with Ramadan. The series, which dramatizes the battle between Jews and Muslims in the Saudi town of Khaiber centuries ago, is pervaded with classic anti-Semitic tropes, judging by recent episodes. Jews are portrayed as enemies of Islam and ascheap and greedy.
Regrettably, Khaiber is not the first Arab TV series to descend into the abyss of antisemitism. Such programs have been aired in Egypt and Syria.
There is a yearning for democracy in the Middle East, but Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic insults will not bring the region any closer to this worthy objective.