Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Playing to the Crowd

Capital Time Editorial:

First it was the new president of Iran. Now it's the leader of the main opposition party in Egypt. Both are claiming that the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of 6 million Jews, is nothing more than a myth.

This is very dangerous talk. It deserves the strongest rebuttals possible not only by Western governments, but by Arab governments as well. It also deserves notice from people in this country who think those who deny the reality of the Holocaust are just some kind of fringe element.

Talk to the people who have survived the Nazi concentration camps and it is hard to image anyone reducing the horror they experienced to some kind of a made-up story. Talk to the American soldiers who were the first ones into the concentration camps at the end of the war and it is inconceivable that anyone could say this never happened. These are firsthand witnesses to the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

Yet even the accounts of firsthand witnesses, the collections of artifacts, the files of Nazi documentation, the public trials of the architects of this horrendous policy seem not to make a dent in the propaganda being spewed by the leader of Iran and the rising power in Egypt.
They are playing to the crowd, trying to undermine the main rationale for the creation of the state of Israel. If there was no Holocaust, then finding a safe haven for the world's Jews was not a humanitarian act but simply a land grab of territory occupied by Palestinians.

There can be reasonable debates over the way Israel came into existence and over its current policies. But to dismiss a people's suffering as fiction, to pretend a piece of history does not exist is a recipe for disaster. It means official policies and public perceptions are based on a false view of the world.

Strong rebuttals are needed, but so are ongoing efforts to help people in Arab nations indeed, in all nations understand the reality of what European Jews experienced under Hitler. It is not fiction. It is part of what shapes the world even to this day.