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Israel Unimpressed by Rouhani's Holocaust Condemnation

Iranian President's condemnation of the Holocaust was insufficient, say Israeli officials.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 9/25/2013, 9:21 PM

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
Reuters

Israeli officials were unimpressed on Wednesday by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's condemnation of the Holocaust, saying it was insufficient.

After addressing the UN General Assembly late on Tuesday, Rouhani told CNN’s Christiane Amanapour said that the Nazis committed a "reprehensible" crime against the Jewish people, when asked if he accepted that the Holocaust occurred.

"I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect," he said.

"But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable," he added.

The remarks reflect of a radical change by the Tehran government, as Rouhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a strident critic of Israel who repeatedly questioned the Holocaust and said that Holocaust denial was his proudest moment as Iran’s president.

"It's true that (Rouhani) didn't deny the Holocaust, but he didn't condemn those who have denied it, such as his predecessor and other Iranian leaders," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz was quoted by AFP as having told Israeli public radio.

Deputy foreign minister Zeev Elkin asked during an interview on Army Radio, "What has this come to? It's enough to simply recognize that the Holocaust took place to be considered enlightened and cultivated?

"But the Iranian spiritual leaders who've denied the Holocaust are still in place," Elkin noted.

In Tuesday’s interview with CNN, Rouhani said that he condemned the “taking of human life” and added, "It makes no difference whether that life is Christian, Jewish or Muslim.”

However, the president also implicitly criticized the creation of Israel as a Jewish homeland, saying that the Holocaust "doesn't mean you can say Nazis committed crimes against a group so they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it.”

In his speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Rouhani did not specifically name Israel but denounced the “occupation of the Palestinian people”, claiming that they suffer from “structural violence.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)