Will Iran Pay a Price for Denying the Holocaust?

[New York Times, 23Jan07] John Vinocur - By the end of the week, if things go the way the U.S. has planned, the UN General Assembly will have approved an American-sponsored resolution condemning denial of the Holocaust, in time to mark the commemoration of the entry of Soviet forces into the Auschwitz death camp on Jan. 27, 1945. It would also say, in effect, that the world considers Iranian President Ahmadinejad increasingly dangerous, and that Iran merited sanctions and even isolation as a country in the grips of disreputable radicals. This gets entered on the diplomatic ledger as effective pressure. For Olivier Roy, the widely respected French expert on Iran, Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust doesn't play to Iran but a targeted audience beyond the shame of international reproach. Roy believes that Iranian anti-Semitism is part of a broad political undertaking, profiting from the perceived weakness of the U.S. and Arab regimes, and aimed at Iran's securing a leading role in a "front of refusal" of Arab maximalists that rejects any place for Israel in the Middle East's future. Hizbullah and Hamas are obvious elements in that clientele. The Iranians may be "overplaying their hand," as the administration says. But nobody out there, at this stage, is really calling their bluff.

2007-01-24 01:00:00

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