SWC to Germany: Sue ex-Iranian Official

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Wiesenthal Centre to German Foreign Minister: "Condemn, Investigate and Discipline Those Responsible for Berlin Government-Backed Antisemitic Conference that Undermines Chancellor Merkel's Policy"

Paris, 2 July 2008

In a letter to German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, expressed "deep concern at the violently antisemitic statements made at the German Government-backed 'Third Transatlantic Conference on Common Solutions in the Middle East,' held last week in Berlin."

At the conference, Iran's former Deputy Foreign Minister, Muhammad Javad Larijani, reportedly, called for the "cancellation of the Zionist project" adding that "denial of the Holocaust in the Muslim world has nothing to do with antisemitism."

Samuels noted, "Apparently, such positions were endorsed by representatives of Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia without condemnation from any of the German participants, which included the SPD's Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Protestant Church (EKD), the State of Hessen and the Federal Ministries of Finance and of Foreign Affairs."

The letter emphasized, "The time and place of the proceedings only aggravate the outrage; such statements, in close proximity to the Holocaust Memorial in the 70th anniversary year of 'Kristallnacht', constitute:

- a violation of German law, as also of European Union and OSCE provisions against abuse of the Holocaust and incitement to Jew-hatred;

- an undermining of Chancellor Angela Merkel's declared policy of German sensitivity to the dangers to Israel, especially from Iran's nuclear ambitions;

- an endorsement of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's oft-stated genocidal intent, his Holocaust denial, Iran's nuclear threat to the West itself, while contradicting the international community's diplomatic initiatives to contain this global menace."

Samuels added, "In 2004, our Centre had protested a Friedrich Ebert Foundation conference, cosponsored with Hizbollah and Hamas in Beirut, just as we had earlier exposed one of your predecessor's silence in the face of similar positions, made on German soil, by former Iranian Foreign Minister Velayati - now indicted by Argentina for complicity in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish Centre, that left 85 dead and over 100 maimed."

"In the spirit of Chancellor Merkel's new Middle East policy," the Centre called for the Minister's "public condemnation of the aforementioned statements; his investigation and disciplining of those responsible for the invitations and funding of this scandalous encounter; and his support for an immediate launch, by the Federal Justice Ministry, of criminal proceedings against Muhammad Javad Larijani for his violation of German law against offending the memory of the Holocaust."

"Prompt steps are vital to protect the architecture of Germany's peace policy so sensitively crafted by Chancellor Merkel," concluded Samuels.

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58.