Tuesday, January 23, 2007

United Nations' Resolution on Holocaust Denial: The Holocaust as a tool in International Diplomacy

In intriguing piece in today's International Herald Tribune John Vinocur analyzes how an American sponsored resolution condemning Holocaust denial is really a move to demonstrate that, in the words of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, "the Iranians are overplaying their hand."

The resolution, if it passes, will serve "in theory, as an incremental warning signal to Iranians on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's leadership." It would serve to signal to Iran that the nations of the world do not consider him a partner for dialogue and, in fact seem him as a dangerous person who is leading his country down a dnagerous path.

Last month in the NY Jewish Week I made a similar point about how Ahmadinejad's behavior -- particularly his convening of a Holocaust denial conference -- is a means of shooting himself in the foot. It is also a gift -- of sorts -- for those who are concerned about Jewish issues. It put him solidly in the camp of the crazies, wackos, and dangerous folks. He lost whatever credibility he might still have had.

In truth, it shows the dangerous -- if not tragic -- state of world affairs that a resolution against Holocaust denial is the way in which the countries of the world might be prepared to respond to Ahmadinejad's threat of nuclear-armed hatred.

The resolution, according to experts cited in the article, won't accomplish much beyond the "shame of international reproach."

There is no question but that Iranian anti- Semitism is directly linked to an anti-Israel campaign on the part of Arab nations. The particularly shameful thing is the was many secular Arab intellectuals share the kind of antisemitism propounded by Ahmadinejad.

Vinocur writes that Benjamin Stora and Pierre Vermeren, in an article in Le Monde, deplored that "the scientific reality of the Holocaust" was so threatening to "Arab regimes, that Arab historians were denied the means to explore its reality."

I wonder if they are denied or have no desire to explore its reality.

Stora, observed that "Rather than opening to a greater universality," he said, the Arab intellectual world was "increasingly confining itself in its own identity" and "not going to the sources or contemporary history."

What then is this resolution going to accomplish? Vinocur describes is as part of a "a haphazard series of steps and pronouncements getting called a strategy without having its substance," and it will do little to "shak[e] Ahmadinejad from his course.

It's all pretty sobering.

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