PM - Iran stages conference questioning Jewish Holocaust
Tuesday, 12 December , 2006 18:22:00
Reporter: Lisa Millar
MARK COLVIN: The United Nations may have moved a step closer to possible sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice certainly thinks so. She expressed optimism that the Security Council would finally impose sanctions after a European draft resolution got support from the US and Russia.
Meanwhile in Tehran, a conference which some have accused the Iranian Government of staging as a provocative diversion from the nuclear issue, is well underway.
It's discussing an issue which Iranian President Ahmadinejad keeps raising - whether the Nazis really killed six million Jews in the Holocaust.
One of the two Australians at the conference claims it's the beginning of a whole new debate in which people will wake up, as he puts it, to what he calls the "fraudulent factors" behind the deaths of millions of Jews.
Frederick Töben has been jailed before for his views and says he expects to be targeted again after attending the conference in Tehran.
Lisa Millar reports.
LISA MILLAR: The three-day conference has attracted around 100 people. The Iranian Government says they've come from across the globe, and from a variety of viewpoints.
But the majority are firm believers in the argument that the Holocaust was either exaggerated or invented.
Frederick Töben from Adelaide is a keynote speaker.
FREDERICK TÖBEN: The Holocaust for many is in the memory, is in their memory, it's an absolute, but it has no reality in time or space.
LISA MILLAR: Mr Töben is an amateur historian who promotes his cause through the Adelaide Institute and its website, both of which he set up.
He's been jailed in Germany for inciting racism, but he's convinced this conference is finally giving weight to his views.
FREDERICK TÖBEN: They know that we are correct, that our argument... we have won the argument on paper. It's the beginning. It's the beginning of people in Africa, in South America, in Asia, waking up to the fraudulent factors embedded in what is called the Holocaust.
LISA MILLAR: The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, began planning the conference a year ago after his comments about wiping Israel off the map caused international outrage.
But he wasn't there when the conference opened, instead speaking at a university where students staged a rare protest.
(Sound of protesters chanting)
The President says that's a sign of the freedom Iranians have, and why the country can hold a conference about the Holocaust.
His Foreign Minister spoke on his behalf.
MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI (translated): The Zionist regime is aware that if the conventional interpretation and picture of the Holocaust is questioned, the essence and identity of the Zionist regime will be questioned.
LISA MILLAR: Israel, the US and the United Nations have all criticised the conference.
Graham Leonard from Australia's Jewish community is infuriated by it.
GRAHAM LEONARD: Look, at a time when international tensions are running high, about escalating problems in the Middle East, this conference can only be seen as another act on the part of Iran to up the ante, and one of provocation and brinksmanship, I think.
LISA MILLAR: What's it likely to achieve?
GRAHAM LEONARD: Very little, except it will give a stage for some amateur Holocaust revisionists who claim to be historians.
LISA MILLAR: Do you think this conference is giving the revisionists greater credibility?
GRAHAM LEONARD: No, I don't think it will give greater credibility at all, because people will see it for what it is, which is in the context of Iran's attempt to destabilise the region.
I think the other point we want to make very strongly is we're not against free speech. I mean, free speech is an important value in any modern, vibrant democracy.
But this is not about free speech. This is about repugnant, demeaning, state-sponsored historical revisionism, and it's just deeply offensive and should be condemned.
LISA MILLAR: Dr Benjamin MacQueen is from the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University.
BENJAMIN MACQUEEN: I don't think there's any... and I'm certainly showing my colours here, I don't think there's any serious scholarship that really agrees with the positions that are being put forward by Holocaust denial.
It still remains in, for instance, in academia, it still remains even more fringe than a fringe group.
LISA MILLAR: But as the US comes under pressure from the Iraq Study Group to begin negotiating with Iran over the future of Iraq, this conference is unlikely to help convince the President George W. Bush that talking to the regime is an option.
Frederick Töben admits there's politics behind Iran's decision to play host to the revisionists, and on that subject, Dr MacQueen agrees.
BENJAMIN MACQUEEN: I think yes, it's part of this sort of, broader movement, this sort of multifaceted attack on Israel, on the legitimacy of the Israeli state.
MARK COLVIN: Dr Benjamin MacQueen from Monash University, ending that report by Lisa Millar.
This is the print version of story
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Here is an earlier one from LATELINE, ABC TV, 21 February 2006
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
British historian jailed
Reporter: Tom Iggulden
An Austrian court has sentenced British historian
David Irving to three years jail for calling the Holocaust "a fairytale" 16
years ago, sparking debate about free speech and how to deter neo-Nazis from
spreading their message. Jail time has done little to deter Australia's most
prominent Holocaust denier, who's about to travel to Iran at the invitation
of the country's leaders, who have recently renewed calls for the
destruction of Israel and restarted the country's nuclear program. Tom
And another PM Report from the past:
Toben jailed in Germany over Holocaust website
PM Archive - Thursday, 11 November , 1999 00:00:00
Reporter: Bronwyn Adcock
An Australian who questions the Nazi Holocaust was sentenced to gaol in
....and more ABC Reports on Fredrick Töben
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