Two Jewish organizations on Sunday condemned the statements of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has once again denied that the Holocaust took place.
In a speech on Friday honoring the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, Khamenei said, "In European countries, no one dares to talk about the Holocaust, and we do not know if it's real or not."
He also claimed that Europe's criminalization of denying the Holocaust is an attack on Iranian culture.
“It is no accident that Iran’s Supreme Leader chose his major national address of the year to question if the Holocaust happened,” said the director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Abraham Foxman, in a statement quoted by the European Jewish Press (EJP).
“His message is that despite the ongoing nuclear negotiations, Iran is holding strong to its radical ideology, including denial of the Holocaust, and other extremist anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views as well as their ongoing support for world terror as evidenced by the recent Israeli seizure of Iranian weapons destined for the Gaza Strip,” continued Foxman.
“Once again, the injection of Holocaust denial by an Iranian leader shows the world how such deep seated hatred exists at the helm in Iran. We have seen the Ayatollah spew his vehement animosity toward Jews before on other national occasions in Iran and these statements once again show the bigotry and hypocrisy of this regime,” he said.
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder also condemned the remarks and asked whether the world could trust the “charm offensive” of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in the wake of Khamenei’s statements.
“When countries are rushing to welcome back a supposedly more moderate Iran into the world community and to do business with it, they should remember, it is not a new Iran, but the same Iran with a new face,” Lauder said, according to EJP.
“Ayatollah Khamenei's words are unmistakable: he denies the Holocaust happened. Iran needs to renounce Holocaust denial, extremism, and bigotry if the world is to have any faith in its conduct and intentions. Until then, the West needs to be very careful in engaging with Tehran,” added Lauder.
Khamenei’s remarks are a reflection of Iran’s true positions, despite attempts by Rouhani and his government to hide these positions.
Several months after being elected, Rouhani stated in an interview on CNN that the Nazis committed a "reprehensible" crime against the Jewish people.
Iran subsequently claimed that CNN had misrepresented Rouhani's statements, claiming the network added the words "Holocaust" and "reprehensible" to its translation.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, stated at the recent Munich Security Conference that the Holocaust was “tragically cruel and should not happen again.” He later allegedly added that “We have nothing against the Jews. We do not feel threatened by anyone."
Hardliners later upbraided Zarif over the statements.
Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, openly denied the Holocaust on endless occasions and, towards the end of his presidency, boasted that his proudest moment was the Holocaust denial.