Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiReuters

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is urging world leaders to press Iran’s leadership on its Holocaust denial during the UN General Assembly, JTA reported Wednesday.

“We want to make sure that the upcoming discussion at the United Nations is informed by facts about official Iranian efforts to promote racism and extremism in the form of Holocaust denial,” Tad Stahnke, the director of the museum’s initiative against Holocaust denial, said in a conference call with reporters as the General Assembly formally launched in New York.

Stahnke and Maziar Bahari, an Iranian filmmaker, cautioned against believing claims by alleged moderates like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that the government of Iran repudiates Holocaust denial.

They also noted that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, questioned the veracity of the Holocaust as recently as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January.

Khamenei two years ago suggested that the Holocaust “was not real”, and former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust on a regular basis as well.

Prior to leaving the presidency, Ahmadinejad said he prided himself most on his denial of the Holocaust.

Stahnke and Bahari also noted the most recent Holocaust cartoon contest in May, and said Zarif and others played word games when they said there was no “government” involvement.

There are two “governments” in Iran, they said, and while the formal government may avoid Holocaust denial, the “system” of semi- and quasi-governmental authorities, including the Revolutionary Guard, is steeped in it.

Iran has repeatedly held Holocaust-denying cartoon exhibits, notably last year when it announced the contest days after the terrorist attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine which had been attacked in the past over its caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Holocaust museum’s website includes pages exposing Iranian Holocaust denial and pages in Persian explaining the Holocaust, noted JTA.

Also featured on the website is a short film about Abdolhossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat in Paris who rescued Jews during the Holocaust by issuing them passports.