Young Iranians Release Book Caricaturing The Holocaust

By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, September 28, 2008

TEHRAN, Sept. 27 -- Iranian students have released a book containing cartoons of the Holocaust, including some depicting hospitalized Jews on respiratory machines attached to canisters of Zyklon B, the gas used to exterminate Jews during World War II.

The students, members of a state militia, unveiled "Holocaust" in Tehran's Palestine Square on Friday in the presence of Education Minister Ali Reza Ali-Ahmadi, during annual demonstrations calling for the retreat of "Zionists" from "occupied Palestine."

In a speech at the United Nations last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed "Zionists," rather than Jews, for the occupation of the Palestinian territories, a reference to the historical movement to reestablish a Jewish homeland. Iranian officials frequently draw that distinction, mindful of the approximately 25,000 Jews in Iran -- more than in any country in the Middle East except Israel.

The book, however, talks explicitly of the history of the Jews "before, during and after the Holocaust." The cartoons show caricatured Jews with large, hooked noses trying to fabricate evidence for the Holocaust, while the text states that the Nazi massacre has been highly exaggerated, makes fun of testimonials from survivors and accuses present-day Jews of trying to make money from the Holocaust.

Ahmadinejad has publicly questioned whether 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust and in 2006 opened a conference in Tehran attended by Holocaust deniers. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was one of the speakers.

"We have seen many anti-Zionist stances but never anti-Semitic," said Siamak Mehre Sadegh, a Jewish member of the Iranian parliament who had not yet seen the book. "Anti-Semitism is not the official position of the country."

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