August 17, 2006

Jewish leaders, Paris slam Iran Holocaust cartoon show

By Corinne Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli government, Jewish groups
and the mayor of Paris on Thursday condemned an Iranian
exhibition of cartoons on the Nazi Holocaust, accusing Tehran
of spreading hatred and trivializing the murder of six million

Organizers of Iran's International Holocaust Cartoon's
Contest said the museum exhibit, which has drawn more than 200
entries, aims to challenge Western taboos about the discussing
the Holocaust.

Israeli government spokesman Gideon Meir called on the
international community "to express disgust from such an
anti-Semitic and inhuman event."

Yosef Lapid, chairman of the council of the Yad Vashem
Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, said: "The exhibit not only is
horrific propaganda that supports Holocaust denial, it also
paves the road to justifying genocide of the Jews in Israel."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has drawn
international condemnation for dismissing the Holocaust as a
"myth." Nazi Germany killed six million European Jews in World
War Two.

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe condemned the display in a
letter to Iran's ambassador, saying it "intended to mock the
tragedy of the (Holocaust) and to trivialize a new anti-Semitic
bid under the false pretext of art and freedom of speech."

France is home to western Europe's largest Jewish and
Muslim communities. It is a crime in European countries such as
France, Germany and Austria to deny the Holocaust.

"At a time when violence and war should lead everyone
toward a willingness for dialogue, appeasement and tolerance,
such a step serves, on the contrary, motivations dominated by
hatred," Delanoe, a Socialist, said.

Russia's Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and
Associations urged Muslims around the world "to reject the
blasphemy of political intriguers and say in their very hearts,
'Keep your hands off the memory of the Holocaust's victims."'

Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris said
Iranian's Holocaust cartoon exhibit was part of the "Iranian
drive toward its own aggrandizement on the back of the Jews."

Salomon Korn, chairman of the Jewish community in the
German city of Frankfurt, said he thought the exhibition was
"pathologically crude."

"Ahmadinejad is demanding from the West what he does not
allow himself, and of which he perhaps has no idea, namely
tolerance," Korn said.

Iran's best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, launched a
competition in February for the best cartoon about the
Holocaust in retaliation for the publication of caricatures of
the Prophet Mohammad in Danish and other European newspapers.

Those images of the Prophet sparked attacks on European
embassies in Muslim nations, including missions in Iran.

Samuels said a member of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
submitted two cartoons to Iran's competition, depicting
Ahmadinejad as Hitler.

Samuels said the cartoons were sent back.

(Additional reporting by Kerstin Gehmlich in Paris and Guy
Faulconbridge in Moscow)