Holocaust denial is a vicious form of antisemitism, a cudgel antisemites brandish to doubly punish Jews. Having implicitly or explicitly applauded the mass murder of Jews, they then vastly underplay its scale and severity, or deny it ever took place. In pursuit of their malicious agenda, they fabricate evidence and twist the facts.
Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, has now joined the loathsome ranks of Holocaust deniers, the corps of racists who hate Jews and detest Israel.
In a recent speech, he had the gall to claim that “no evidence” exists to substantiate the veracity of the Shoah. Doubling down on this despicable lie, he declared that the Holocaust is neither a “humanitarian” nor a “real” issue. Going one step further, he said it had been “politicized” to facilitate the transfer of European Jews to Palestine.
In yet another falsehood, he asserted that Jews who settled in Palestine were Khazar pagans who converted to Judaism centuries ago. And in an attempt to sever the irrefutable connection between Jews and their ancestral homeland in Israel, he said, “They have nothing to do whatsoever with the (ancient) people of Israel.”
The only conceivable response to Assad’s assertions is that he is a damnable liar, a pathetic ignoramus, or both. Whatever the case, he cannot be deemed to be a serious person. But since he rules one of the most important nations in the Middle East, a country that has fought Israel in four wars and countless skirmishes since 1948, his lies must be exposed and consigned to a rubbish bin.
To say, as he does, that there is no evidence to support the fact that six million Jews perished during the Holocaust is to willfully ignore the testimonies of survivors and witnesses, to bypass the richly documented record methodically assembled by the Nazis themselves, and to deny reality.
Denying the Holocaust is like saying that World War II is fake news, a figment of the imagination. Does Assad think that Auschwitz-Birkenau was a summer resort or a spa?
Assad’s assertion that the Holocaust is neither a “real” nor a “humanitarian” issue demonstrates a profound degree of maliciousness and insensitivity.
And his argument that the Holocaust was “politicized” in the Zionist quest to lay the groundwork for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine falls into line with the reluctance of far too many Arabs to come to terms with Israel’s right to statehood and legitimacy.
His nonsensical contention that Jews in Palestine were Khazars is shorthand for saying that Jews have no genuine claim to their ancestral homeland. Assad is obviously unaware that Jews were among the first inhabitants of the Land of Israel, having established two sovereign states there long before the rise of Islam and the arrival of Arabs in Palestine.
Contrary to Assad’s argument, Jews are as indigenous to Israel as First Nations are to Canada. Israeli Jews most definitely are not settlers or colonists who have no historical, cultural or religious links and attachments to Israel.
Assad’s disgraceful foray into Holocaust denial is yet one more reason why he will not retrieve the Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel in the Six Day War.
During the 1990s and in the following decade, Israel seriously considered the possibility of withdrawing from the Golan within the framework of a peace treaty with Syria, Russia’s chief Arab ally (which takes pride in having defeated Nazi Germany and liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau).
But that scenario vanished with the eruption of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and Assad’s ill-fated decision to allow Iran — Israel’s deadliest enemy and Hezbollah’s patron– to build a threatening military infrastructure on Syria’s side of the Golan. Since then, the Israeli Air Force has regularly bombed Iranian bases in Syria and Hezbollah arms convoys to Lebanon.
Syria, the so-called beating heart of Arab nationalism, remains one of Israel’s most durable foes. And in the wake of Assad’s inane and counter-productive comments on the Holocaust, Israel will be all the more suspicious of him and his rotten authoritarian regime.