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Tehran Conference platform
Lady Renouf and colleagues on the platform
at the Tehran Conference

Ever since last December's Holocaust Conference in Tehran, the Iranian government and the participants in the conference have been subjected to a catalogue of horrific smears.

The propagandist media throughout the Western 'democratic' world queued up to denounce Iran's President Ahmadinejad, insisting paradoxically that only someone who wished to exterminate Jews in the 21st century could possibly be interested in debating the truth behind the alleged extermination programme of the previous century.

The diverse conference speakers - from Professor Faurisson to Lady Renouf to the rabbis of the Neturei Karta - were similarly slandered, sometimes in the most grotesque terms. The American Jewish Professor Norman Finkelstein was viciously attacked by other Jews - putting his job on the line - for even having considered attending the conference.

Yet behind the scenes the Tehran conference seems to have had a very different impact. The Swiss weekly Weltwoche reported at the end of May 2007 that the Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey held a meeting with Iranian officials shortly after the conference, at which she proposed that "a seminar about different perceptions of the Holocaust could be organized in one of the Geneva centers."

There are of course many possible motives for a mainstream politician such as President Calmy-Rey to make such a proposal, and some revisionists may react with scepticism, bearing in mind Switzerland's shameful record of persecuting its own revisionists.

Yet perhaps the Swiss government should be given the benefit of the doubt. If participants in such a seminar were guaranteed immunity from prosecution under Swiss anti-revisionist laws, allowing them to speak freely in the traditions of free academic enquiry and discussion, the idea of a Geneva seminar seems a positive step forward.

Abraham Foxman, of the U.S.-based propagandist group ADL, has already angrily denounced the Swiss initiative: "Any seminar on so-called perceptions of the Holocaust, especially one that would possibly include Iranian participants, would be tainted because it would aid and give comfort to the anti-Semites and the deniers who call the fact of the Holocaust into question."

Dr Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center was similarly hostile, arguing that "Switzerland has in one move compromised its status of neutrality. You have thereby served the Iranian political agenda, encouraging the most extreme rejectionists of any hope of Middle East peace, and offered a platform for every... denier."

Mr Foxman and Dr Samuels should think again. It seems possible that the recent leaking of President Calmy-Rey's proposal may be part of some broader political or diplomatic game, especially given the coincidence that the President held a meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator this week. Yet the issues involved in the Holocaust debate are surely worthy of serious discussion, aside from the slings and arrows of press leaks and partisan outrage.

In due course the 2007 Tehran Conference Committee may formally respond to the Swiss invitation as reported in Weltwoche. If they are prepared to set aside their prejudices for a few hours, Mr Foxman and Dr Samuels would be welcome to join us for an open discussion of the many complex historical and scientific issues involved in the alleged Holocaust of Europe's Jews.

Watch this space for emerging developments next week.


Further reports about revisionism in Switzerland will appear here in early June.

email the web editor peter@jailingopinions.com