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Mr. President: The problem is not Holocaust denial

by Rabbi Marvin Hier

September 27, 2012 | 12:23 pm

President Barack Obama at the U.N. Headquarters in New York on Sept. 25. Photo by REUTERS/Keith Bedford

President Barack Obama at the U.N. Headquarters in New York on Sept. 25. Photo by REUTERS/Keith Bedford

As the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, I should be the last person to criticize the president of the United States for mentioning Holocaust denial in an important speech at the United Nations General Assembly a day before the most infamous Holocaust denier speaks from that same rostrum. Nonetheless, I think the president missed the point entirely when he said: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images we see of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”

The president is repeating the same mistake he made during his historic speech in Cairo two years ago, when he appeared to say that the only justification Jews had for their return to Israel was the suffering they endured during the Holocaust, rather than a 3,500-year relationship with the land of Israel. 

Today, the central concern of Jews around the world is not the tragedy that happened 70 years ago, but what is happening now before our very eyes — the indifference of the world toward the continued demonization of Judaism, not only by extremist Muslims but also by the mainstream Palestinian leaders themselves. They serially vilify Judaism by alleging:

• “They claim that 2,000 years ago they had a Temple. I challenge the claim that this is so.” (President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority)

• “The Jews have no religious ties to the Temple Mount or the Western Wall.” (Al-Mutawakel Taha, Palestinian Ministry of Information)

• “The Temple of the Jews never existed.” (Palestinian Authority Chief Judge, Sheikh Tamimi)

• “Jews are Satans and Zionist sons of bitches.” (Senior Palestinian Authority official, Jibril Rajoub)

In other words, according to the Palestinian Authority, the prophetic writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel about the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, revered by Jews and Christians alike, are lies and distortions.

Raising that calumny would have been an appropriate comparison with the defamation of Muhammad and Jesus. It would have put the world on notice that President Barack Obama is concerned not only about what happened to the Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust but also about the Jewish people today who are imperiled by escalating anti-Semitism and the threat of annihilation by the Iranian mullahs.

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