What does the head of state who has called for Israel to be 'œwiped off the map' do for an encore? asked Ilan Berman in National Review Online. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provided the answer last week, convening a two-day conference dedicated to examining 'œevidence' that the Nazi Holocaust never actually took place. Since the conference consisted of an assortment of discredited 'œscholars' and other crackpots, including former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, it's tempting to dismiss the whole thing as a 'œharmless attention-getting stunt.' But it must be taken seriously, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, because Ahmadinejad knows exactly what he's doing. Shrewdly 'œplaying to the extremists in his regional audience,' he wants to discredit the historical event that laid the groundwork for the creation of Israel. Then, his dream of destroying the Jewish state seems like a perfectly reasonable correction of a previous mistake.
Ahmadinejad's stunt wasn't intended merely to 'œwin favor' in the Arab world, said Michael Slackman in The New York Times. All evidence suggests he actually believes what he's saying. As a former member of the Revolutionary Guards, Ahmadinejad was indoctrinated in rabid anti-Semitism, and he has been championing Holocaust denial since his days as a radical student leader. In May, Ahmadinejad told a German magazine that, absent additional proof, Germans should rid themselves of any 'œguilt' they feel about their national past. So the question must be asked, said USA Today: 'œIs Ahmadinejad questioning the Holocaust for cynical political gain, or is he laying the groundwork to resume Hitler's mission?'
Whatever this lunatic's motivation, said Michael Goodwin in the New York Daily News, it's clearer than ever that Iran must not be permitted to achieve its nuclear ambitions. 'œFor if the messianic Ahmadinejad succeeds in getting his hands on the bomb, he will be the ultimate kook with nukes, and nobody anywhere will be safe.' President Bush made a tragic miscalculation when he identified Iraq, rather than Iran, as the biggest threat to the U.S. and our way of life. It was in Iran, after all, that the 'œmodern movement of Islamic fanatics started in 1979 with the takeover of our embassy.' Radical Islam's war on the West began that day, and Ahmadinejad was right in the middle of it, as one of the student leaders of the takeover. But by staging last week's conference, and so baldly stating his disdain for Jews, history, and basic decency, Ahmadinejad had done the world a favor. 'œNow that we can see the future, we no longer need to stumble into it blindly.'
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