Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says that Iran mocks the Holocaust while plotting another one against the Jews.
Netanyahu spoke Sunday, at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting, following an international cartoon contest Iran staged over the weekend depicting the Holocaust. Iran has long backed armed groups committed to Israel’s destruction and its leaders have called for it to be wiped off the map.
Israel fears that Iran’s nuclear program is designed to threaten its very existence. But Netanyahu says it is not merely Iran’s aggressive policies that Israel opposes, but its values. “It denies the Holocaust, it mocks the Holocaust and it is also preparing another Holocaust,” he said.
“I think that every country in the world must stand up and fully condemn this. This is what I told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday,” noted Netanyahu.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia, said the United States was concerned the contest could “be used as a platform for Holocaust denial and revisionism and egregiously anti-Semitic speech, as it has in the past.”
“Such offensive speech should be condemned by the authorities and civil society leaders rather than encouraged. We denounce any Holocaust denial and trivialization as inflammatory and abhorrent. It is insulting to the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust,” Toner said.
Contest organizer Masuod Shojai Tabatabaei said the purpose of the Tehran event was not to deny the Holocaust but rather to criticize alleged Western double standards regarding free expression — and particularly as a response to depictions of the founder of Islam by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and others.
The exhibit featured some 150 works from 50 countries, with many portraying Israel as using the Holocaust to distract attention from the Palestinians, and others comparing Netanyahu to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
The contest was organized by non-governmental bodies with strong support from Iran’s hard-liners. A previous contest in 2006 got a boost from then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fellow hard-liner who referred to the Holocaust as a “myth” and repeatedly predicted Israel’s demise.