The Iranian Ambassador to Uruguay, Hojatollah Soltani, participated in a conference on July 27 on "Lies and Truths in the fight against Terror" organized at the Uruguay-Sweden House of Culture in Montevideo. The event was moderated by Eduardo Rubio, a member of the March 26 Movement, a Marxist-Leninist political party in Uruguay. The only participants were Soltani and the Iranian MP, Karami Rad, who recently visited Montevideo to invite members of the Uruguay's government and Parliament to assist to an international conference on Palestine in Iran.

Rubio, who recently participated to a conference entitled "Against Terror and for a Just Peace" in Teheran, opened the debate by saying that his political party in Uruguay shared the Iranian government's same fight against Imperialism. After discussing the Iranian Ambassador and the Iranian MP's anti-West interventions on terror "supported by powerful nations," such as the U.S., Rubio asked Soltani if it were true that Iran denies the Holocaust. "This is a very good question," answered the Ambassador seriously, before starting a speech in which he denied the Holocaust..

Iranian Ambassador: It is a lie that millions of Jews died in the Holocaust

"World War II began in 1939 and ended in 1945. It is said that during that war the Nazis killed 2 million, 4 million, 6 million Jews; there are different figures in the news. This was named a 'Holocaust,' and Israel is using this issue to present itself to the world as a victim and asking for economic and political support from some countries in Europe," the Iranian Ambassador said; then added, "What is then the position of the Iranian Islamic Republic on the Holocaust? Our President, Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Professor in the University, he holds a PhD in urbanization. [...] Hence, our President as Professor has asked two questions on the Holocaust. The first one is [...] why in the world anyone can talk and investigate about anything but not on the Holocaust? We should study what really happened in the period between 1939 and 1945. Don't we live a world where freedom of speech and of thought should be respected? [...] Should we believe only what the Zionists and Israel are saying [on the Holocaust]? [...] Why doesn't [the world] let people study what really happened in the Holocaust? Why, when professors, scientists and European historians are sent to jail when they reach the conclusions through their investigations that [all these figures] are a lie? Why are they condemned? [...] What is the reality" Why, according to some historians' documents don't these figures exist? Maybe some people died, some were murdered, I don't know, maybe thousands of Jews. But that figure of 2 million, 4 million, 6 million, is a lie according to some European historians who have submitted documents. [...]" Soltani ended his intervention saying that Israel's activities against Palestinians are the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial a permanent feature of Iranian political discourse

Over the past several years, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism have become permanent features of Iranian political discourse. Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Supreme Leader, Khamenei, have made countless statements calling for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. Moreover, Ahmadinejad did not restrain himself from exposing all of his anti-Semitic hatred in front of the UN Assembly when he claimed that "a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists" are dominating financial and political centers in Europe and the U.S. in "a deceitful, complex and furtive manner."

The anti-Semitic campaign launched by the Iranian regime, in which the Holocaust denial is a core element, is a pre-planned strategy through which the Iranian regime intends to achieve a series of goals. First, the Iranian government is using the "Zionist threat" as a scapegoat to deflect attention from internal problems. Second, Iran intends to magnify the danger of the Zionist threats to justify Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon. Further, in Iranian discourse the Holocaust is something to dismiss, as the world should focus on the new "Holocaust against the Palestinians." As Soltani said during the event: "Let's suppose that the Holocaust really happened in the '40s, then it means that this happened almost seventy years ago. Please, we should instead pay attention to the real Holocaust that is going on now in the world, the Holocaust of the Palestinian people." Iran seems to intend to achieve regional hegemony by fostering the Palestinian cause, beyond sectarian differences, presenting itself as the spearhead of the Palestinian struggle.

Uruguay's reaction

Uruguay's Foreign Minister, Luis Almagro, condemned Soltani's statements: he declared that the Holocaust is an "undeniable historic event." He added that some of the survivors are still living in Uruguay, but softened his declaration by saying that diplomatic and trade relations with Iran would not be affected by the incident. Some media outlets declared that Uruguay's reaction was not strong enough and that he should have taken tough measures against the Iranian Ambassador.

Jewish organizations from around the world reacted, instead, with disdain to this new Iranian attack on the existence of the Holocaust. The Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a request to the government of Uruguay asking for the expulsion of the ambassador of Iran.. Similar requests came from Jewish groups in Uruguay and other countries in South America. The Montevideo incident should be considered as part of the wider campaign aimed at the destruction of the state of Israel.

The answer from the West is probably often weak, however, because everybody wants to keep on doing business with Iran. Even Argentina seems ready to forget Iran's involvement in the 1994 terrorist attack against the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), which killed 87 people and injured more than 100. Last April, the Argentinean paper Perfil reported that in a meeting in January with Iran's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Argentinean Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, offered to drop investigations in Iran relating to the 1994 bombings. In return, it seems, Timerman's desire was to deepen economic relations between Buenos Aires and Teheran.

Movements in Uruguay support the Iranian regime

The International community should not only condemn the Iranian Ambassador for his comments, but also people and political movements that are providing the platform and the support to spread this anti-Semitic rhetoric.

The Uruguayan 26 of March Movement, which participated to the event, entertains good relations with Iran and shares the same anti-West view. Rubio, the leader of the political party, is seen for the Iranian Embassy in Uruguay as person of reverence.. During a recent visit to Teheran, Rubio said he was surprised to see that the Iranian regime is investing deeply in building strong bonds in Latin America, whether with governments or with political movements. Rubio underlined that Iran should feel that it can find true allies in South America to fight together their common enemies -- the U.S. and Israel.

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