On November 1, 2005, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted an Israel-sponsored resolution designating January 27 as the annual date to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day. Co-sponsored by 104 other states, the resolution rejects Holocaust denial and encourages countries to develop educational programs about the horrors of genocide, and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment, or violence based on ethnicity or religious belief. Assembly President Jan Eliasson said the memory of the Holocaust must be “a unifying historic warning around which we must rally; not only to recall the grievous crimes committed in human history, but also to reaffirm our unfaltering resolve to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.”
But Holocaust deniers exploit the freedom of speech that liberal democracies cherish, and use academic parlance as a guise for disclaiming or minimalizing Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis and for delegitimizing the State of Israel.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s radical Islamist regime commit state-sponsored Holocaust denial. In 2005, Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a “myth” and urged Canada and other Western countries “consumed by guilt over the Holocaust” to establish the Jewish state on their soil. In December 2006, Ahmadinejad convened an “International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust.” No credible scholar was fooled by Iran’s attempt to portray the gathering as anything but what it was: a sophisticated effort to legitimize Holocaust and Israel denial and genocidal anti-Semitism.
Successive governments of Canada have consistently condemned Iran’s state-sponsored Holocaust denial. Prime Minister Paul Martin rejected Ahmadinejad’s 2005 call to “transfer” Israel and Israelis as “irresponsible, contrary to Canadian values… [and] completely unacceptable to the Canadian people.” The Stephen Harper government condemned the Holocaust denial conference and Iranian statements that willfully distort Holocaust history and deny Israel’s legitimacy.
At the annual commemoration of Yom Hashoah on Parliament Hill on April 15, 2007, Prime Minister Harper declared: “It’s not good enough for politicians to stand before you and say they remember and mourn what happened over six decades ago. They must stand up to those who advocate the destruction of Israel and its people today. And they must be unequivocal in their condemnation of anti-Semitic despots, terrorists and fanatics. That is the only real way to honour the memory of those who were consumed by the Holocaust. And the only way to ensure it never happens again.”
In addition, Canada should support ongoing efforts to bring Ahmadinejad and other leaders of the Iranian regime to justice for their state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, including their call for the eradication of the Jewish state.