AJC’s Harris calls Iranian president ‘Holocaust denier-in-chief’


ATHENS — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the “Holocaust denier-in-chief,” American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris in Greece.

“The Holocaust denier-in-chief is the president of Iran. This is shameful enough. What I find no less shameful, though, is how many countries are prepared to overlook or minimize his heinous words in the interest of ‘solidarity’ or business as usual,” Harris said Monday during an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency

Harris spoke from Thessaloniki, where he arrived to participate in commemorative events in the city on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“One common denominator of Holocaust deniers is an unquestionably hatred of Jews,” he said, adding: “why else deny the reality of perhaps the most documented genocide in human history?”

Harris also addressed the recent European Union decision to impose sanctions on Iran, saying: “sanctions may cause some economic pinch in a struggling Europe, including Greece, but there are alternative energy suppliers today to minimize disruption. The cost of doing nothing in the long run would, in any case, be much higher than acting now. For example, what would Greece do if Turkey decided it needed a bomb to match Iran’s?”

Harris also said that “in the immediate future, prospects for advancing overall Arab-Israeli relations do not look promising, though the picture is not uniformly bleak.”

He added that he is “quite pessimistic about Egypt’s current direction” and does “not expect any miracles in Syria. Lebanon remains under the thumb of Hezbollah, and Gaza is in the hands of Hamas. Libya is not rushing to a stable democracy anytime soon. And so on. At the same time, in some other parts of the Arab world, links with Israel, including economic ties, are quietly developing.”

He underlined that “acceptance of Israel and open relations require political courage in the Arab world, as the late Anwar Sadat of Egypt demonstrated,” adding that “such courage is largely lacking at the moment.”

He also said that the “AJC has long supported an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel as a result of a negotiated outcome between Israelis and Palestinians,” stressing that this is “the only conceivable realistic political deal”.

Referring to the recipe that will lead to such a development, he said the most necessary element is “a Palestinian leader capable of telling his own people that the 63-year dream of eliminating Israel is over and compromise is the answer.”

Harris and a delegation of leaders concluded a three-day trip to Greece Monday. Harris and the group met during the visit with: Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos; President of the “New Democracy” Party Antonis Samaras; PASOK party officials; Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris; Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis; Israel’s Ambassador to Greece Arye Mekel; and leaders of the Greek Jewish community.