Iran's Holocaust Cartoons: The Latest in Holocaust Denial

It’s a good thing Iran is low on credibility these days.

Otherwise, the Holocaust cartoon website launched from the nuclear wannabe rogue state would be causing more than the current elicited outrage.

HoloCartoons, launched last week in Farsi, Arabic, and English, is financed by an Iranian non-governmental “cultural foundation.” The cartoons are based largely on a Holocaust-themed comic or cartoon book published in 2008. The book contains satirical images and texts questioning the Holocaust.

The landing page opens to Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther theme and initial texts dedicate the site to all those “killed under the pretext of the Holocaust.” The site also refers to “the killing of 6 million Jews in the Second World War known as the Holocaust” as a “sheer lie."

Internally, texts call the massacre of six million Jews during World War II a fabrication designed to allow Jews to grab hold of the Middle East and control its resources.

Site visitors click on swastika icons to advance along pages that depict Jews as beak-nosed murderers.

As would be expected, directors of Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust museum, were incensed over news of the launch:

The launch of a website dedicated to denying the Holocaust through caricatures and text is yet the latest salvo emanating from Iran that denies the facts of the Holocaust and attempts to influence those who are ignorant of history," Yad Vashem directors said in a statement.

The vulgar and cynical approach of the website, a combination of Holocaust denial and distortion, illustrated with antisemitic caricatures, further illustrates Iran’s disregard for reality and truth vis-à-vis the Holocaust, Jews and Israel.

Although the website is not affiliated with the Iranian government -- the organization that set it up calls itself "Bulwark of Faith and Thought" -- Holocaust denial within the Iranian regime is not novel.

In 2005, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to the Holocaust as a “fairy tale.”

And in December 2006, Iran’s government hosted a Holocaust denial conference termed the "International Conference on Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision." The conference was intended to bring international attention to the regime’s claims that the Holocaust did not occur and to minimize the magnitude of the genocide.

The larger objective was to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, something Iranian leaders have perpetuated since the 1979 Islamic revolution, primarily by refusing to recognize the Jewish state by referring to it only as “the Zionist regime.”

The latest cartoon site launch is an offshoot of an Iranian Holocaust denial cartoon contest that was held in 2006 as a cynical offset response to controversy stirred up by the 2005 Danish daily Jyllands-PostenMohammed” cartoon series.

The Iranian contest winners hailed from Morocco, Brazil, and France and they were awarded $12,000.00 and $8,000.00 for their depictions.

Beyond cartoon sites and allegations, does Holocaust denial coming from a Wild West -- or East, in this case -- state present a threat to Jews or minority populations at large?

Historian and author Deborah Lipstadt would probably nod vigorously. When she first decided to write about the phenomenon of Holocaust denial in the late 80s her colleagues advised against it, saying deniers were a fringe group of loonies.

Today, Lipstadt’s concerns, expressed in her authoritative work Denying the Holocaust -- The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, are almost prophetic.

In a 2006 interview, Lipstadt said:

There is a unique power possessed by the person who can say: "This is my story. This is what happened to me." But the tyranny of time guarantees that we will only have those voices for a few more years. ... One might have expected that there would be a recognition of the fact that the active denial so prevalent in the Arab/Muslim world makes those who express these views look silly at best and nefarious at worst. This has not happened.

Harmless cartoons? Dangerous descent? Preferably the former. But protest and outcry must continue to prevail loudly in order to prevent the latter.