Outrage was swift in coming to remarks by the Islamic Republic’s President Ebrahim Raisi over the attempted genocide of the Jewish People during World War Two.
By Erin Viner
During an interview with the 60 Minutes program aired on the United States’ network CBS, the Iranian leader stated that he could not confirm that the Holocaust had occurred.
While stating that “there are some signs that it happened” when asked by interviewer Leslie Stahl if he believed six million Jews were murdered during WWII, Raisi went on to add the matter should be further “investigated and researched.”
Leaders across Israel’s political, defense and diplomatic spectrum were swift to castigate Raisi’s comments.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid reacted by posting graphic photographs of the Holocaust on his official Twitter account, under the pointed heading: “Some signs.” The Premier’s father Tommy Lapid was a Holocaust survivor.
Also responding on Twitter, President Isaac Herzog posted the image he presented on Holocaust Remembrance Day of the tattooed arm of Holocaust survivor Dora Dreibelt-Eisenberg entwined with the hand of her great-granddaughter’s against the backdrop of an Israeli flag, in a symbol of victory over the attempted Nazi genocide.
“Mr. Raisi, on my desk in Jerusalem there is one photograph,” Herzog wrote, emphasizing that, “The numbers speak for themselves.”
Amid an official visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland, IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi commented, “You don’t need to be a historian or a researcher to understand the horrors of the Holocaust. You need to be a human-being.” In reference to Iran’s intransigence over resuming compliance with a renegotiated version of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, Israel’s top military commander also stressed that, “whoever lies and denies the truth of this painful and concrete history, easily lies today and naturally will lie in the future. This is yet another reminder that these kind of people must be prevented from attaining any capability of any type to develop weapons of mass destruction.”
Branding Raisi as a “despicable anti-Semite,” Chairman Dani Dayan of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center stressed that, “Even casting doubts on the occurrence of the Holocaust is one of the most abhorrent forms of anti-Semitism.”
The statements by Raisi, a hardline Shi’ite Islamic cleric known for his hostility to the West, come just ahead of his slated address at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) – in what will mark his first appearance at the annual gathering of world leaders since taking office as the favored presidential candidate of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It was widely speculated that Raisi refused to attend last year’s UNGA opening to avoid sparking major protest over his role in the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Iran, for which he remains on a United States list of sanctioned individuals. 460 prominent world leaders signed a letter last January calling on United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to investigate the killing, including actions by Tehra’s then-Deputy Prosecutor.
“Shocking to hear Iranian President Raisi’s remarks calling into question whether the Holocaust happened,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan wrote on Twitter, calling on UN Secretary General António Guterres “to DENY THAT DENIER a world stage to spread anti-Semitism and hatred. “
“The UN will reach a new low if they give the Butcher of Tehran a platform,” insisted Ambassador Erdan.
The Islamic Republic has never acknowledged that mass executions were carried out during the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the country’s revolutionary leader who died in 1989. It was during questioning by Stahl over his own responsibility that Raisi veered into a verbal attack on Jews – while also denying Israel’s very right to exist.
“The people of Palestine are the reality. This is the right of the people of Palestine who were forced to leave their houses and motherland. The Americans are supporting this false regime there, to take root and be established there,” he said.
Regarding the Abraham Accord normalization pacts between Israel and Arab nations, the Iranian President declared, “If a state shakes hands with the Zionist regime, then they are an accomplice to their crimes. They are stabbing the very idea of Palestine in the back.”
The Ayatollah regime has repeatedly vowed to annihilate and wipe the Jewish State ‘off the map, and made previous claims to distort the murders of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.
Jerusalem has long warned that arch-enemy Tehran has been trying to secure a windfall in sanctions relief at the Vienna Talks, without sufficiently rolling back nuclear bomb-making potential through its accelerated enrichment of uranium.
Raisi boasted during the now-infamous 60 Minutes interview that the Islamic Republic has no intention to compromise on its demands to restore the JCPOA. International sanctions to curb Iranian nuclear development will ultimately be rendered “ineffective,” he said, because of the resulting unification among the rogue countries slapped with punitive economic measures for violations.