Peace in our Time?

December 23, 2006

Other Victims of Denial (A Letter to the President of Iran)

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 9:39 pm

The following is courtesy of Tikkun Magazine:

Other Victims of Denial
by Mahmoud Al-Safadi
A Letter to the President of Iran

Mr. President, I write to you following the announcement of your intention
to organize a conference on the Holocaust in Teheran on 11-12 December, and
I sincerely hope that this letter will be brought to your attention.

First of all, allow me to introduce myself: Mahmoud Al-Safadi, a former
prisoner from occupied Jerusalem. I was released less than three months ago
from the Israeli prison where I had been locked up for eighteen years for
having been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
and having taken an active part in resistance to the occupation during the
first Intifada. Since you were elected president, I have followed your
declarations with great interest — in particular those relating to the
Holocaust. I respect your opposition to the American and Western
injunctions concerning the Iranian nuclear program and believe it legitimate
that you complain of the double standard that the world has with regard to
the nuclear development of certain regimes.

But I am furious about your insistence on claiming that the Holocaust never
took place and about your doubts about the number of Jews who were murdered in the extermination and concentration camps, organized massacres, and gas chambers, consequently denying the universal historical significance of the Nazi period.

Allow me to say, Mr. President, with all due respect to you, that you made
these statements without really knowing the Nazi industry of death. To have
read the works of some deniers seems to be enough for you — a little like
a man who shouts above a well and hears only the echo of his own voice. I
believe that a man in your position should not make such an enormous error,
because it could be turned against him and, worse still, his people.

Like you and millions of people in the world — among whom, alas, are
innumerable Palestinians and Arabs — I was also convinced that the Jews
exaggerated and lied about the Holocaust, etc., even apart from the fact
that the Zionist movement and Israel use the Holocaust to justify their
policy, first of all against my own people.

My long imprisonment provided me with the occasion to read books and
articles that our ideology and social norms made inaccessible to us outside
the prison. These documents gave me a thorough knowledge of the history of
the Nazi regime and genocide that it perpetrated. At the beginning of the
1990s, by reading articles written by the Palestinian intellectuals Edward
Said and Azmi Bishara, I discovered facts and positions which contradicted
mine and those of many Palestinians. Their writings having piqued my
curiosity and given birth inside me to the need to know more, I set about
reading accounts of survivors of the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation.
These testimonies were written by people of various nationalities, Jews or

The more I learned, the more I realized that the Holocaust was indeed a
historical fact and the more I became aware of the monumental dimension of
the crime committed by Nazi Germany against the Jews, other social and
national groups, and humanity in general. I discovered that Nazi Germany
aspired to found a “new world order” dominated by the “pure Aryan race”
thanks to the physical annihilation of “impure races” and the enslavement of
other nations. I discovered that various “normal” official institutions —
bureaucracies, judicial systems, medical and educational authorities,
municipalities, railroad companies, and others — had taken part and
collaborated in the implementation of this new world order. From a
theoretical point of view, this objective, just like the victories won at
the time by the Nazi armies of occupation, threatened the existence of the
Arabs and Muslims as well.

Whatever the number of victims — Jewish and non-Jewish — the crime is
monumental. Any attempt to deny it deprives the denier of his own humanity
and sends him immediately to the side of torturers. Whoever denies the fact
that this human disaster really took place should not be astonished that
others deny the sufferings and persecutions inflicted on his own people by
tyrannical leaders or foreign occupiers. Ask yourself, I beg you, the
following question: were hundreds of thousands of testimonies written about
death camps, gas chambers, ghettos, and mass murders committed by the German army, tens of thousands of works of research based on German documents, numerous filmed sequences, some of which were shot by German soldiers — were all these masses of evidence completely fabricated?

Can all that be summed up simply as an imperialist-Zionist plot? Are the
confessions of high-ranking Nazis officials about their personal role in the
project of extermination of whole nations only the fruit of the imagination
of some disturbed spirit?

And all these heroic deeds of the people subjected to the German occupation
— the first among whom were Russians, Polish, and Yugoslavs — only lies
and gross exaggerations? Could the struggle of the Soviets against Nazi
Germany be only a phantasm? The Russians continue to celebrate their
victory over Nazi Germany and remember millions of their civilian and
military compatriots who lost their lives in this struggle. Are they lying,

I invite you to read historical studies and serious testimonies before
making your public statements. You divide the world in two camps: the
imperialists-Zionists, who manufactured the myth of the Holocaust, and the
adversaries of imperialism, who know the truth and uncover the plot.
Perhaps you think that the act of denying the Holocaust places you at the
vanguard of the Muslim world and that this refusal constitutes a useful tool
in the combat against American imperialism and Western hegemony. By doing
so, you actually do great disservice to popular struggles the world over.

At best, you cover your people and yourself with ridicule in the eyes of
political forces who reject imperialism but cannot take your ideas and
arguments seriously, due to the fact that you obsessively deny the existence
of an abundantly documented and studied historical period whose consequences are still felt and discussed today.

At worst, you discourage and weaken the political, social, and intellectual
forces who, in Europe and in the United States, reject the policy of
confrontation and war carried out by George Bush, but are forced to conclude
that you, too, jeopardize the world by your declarations denying the
genocide and by your nuclear program.

Concerning the struggle of my people for their independence and their
freedom: perhaps do you regard the negation of the Holocaust as an
expression of support for the Palestinians? There, again, you are mistaken.
We fight for our existence and our rights and against the historical
injustice which was inflicted on us in 1948. We will not win our victory
and our independence by denying the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people, even though the forces who occupy our country today and dispossess us are part of the Jewish people.

Mahmoud Al-Safadi is a former Palestinian militant, He was imprisoned in
Israel for eighteen years and freed in 2006. The French text, a translation
from English by Gilles Berton, was published in Le Monde on 4 December 2006.
The English original was unavailable on the Net, so the English text
is a translation from the French text published in Le Monde.
English translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.


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