In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes”, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi refused to acknowledge the Holocaust, saying it should “be investigated”.
Asked by anchor Lesley Stahl if he believes the Holocaust happened and that six million Jews were slaughtered, Raisi replied, “Look… Historical events should be investigated by researchers and historians. There are some signs that it happened. If so, they should allow it to be investigated and researched.”
Asked whether Israel has a right to exist, the Iranian President replied, “You see, the people of Palestine are the reality. This is the right of the people of Palestine who were forced to leave their homes and motherland. The Americans are supporting this false regime..."
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, condemned Raisi's remarks.
"Shocking to hear Iranian President Raisi's remarks calling into question whether the Holocaust happened. I call on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deny that denier a world stage to spread antisemitism and hatred. The UN will reach a new low if they give the Butcher of Tehran a platform," tweeted Erdan.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid, meantime, also took to Twitter to express his dismay at the Iranian leader's statement. Posting images of Jewish women and children taken to the slaughter by Nazi SS guards and referencing Raisi's statement that there may be "some sings" that the Holocaust "really happened", Lapid simply wrote: "Some signs."
Yad Vashem chairman, Dani Dayan, was among a row of other diplomats to criticize Raisi for his comments.
"There are signs that President Raisi is a despicable antisemite," wrote Dayan on Twitter.
Holocaust denial is a regular occurrence in Iran. The country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, questioned the veracity of the Holocaust on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2016.
Two years earlier, Khamenei 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.
Iran has repeatedly held Holocaust-denying cartoon exhibits, with one of them notably being announced days after the 2015 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.