Simon Wiesenthal Center
March 1, 2001


The Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri to ban an upcoming Holocaust denial conference in Beirut sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).

In a February 28, 2001 letter to the Prime Minister, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center noted that the IHR was, "founded and funded by Willis Carto, America's most notorious racist over the past four decades. He has associated himself and supported vicious anti-black and antisemitic causes."

The conference was being organized by a Switzerland-based group Vérité et Justice and its director Jürgen Graf who fled Switzerland in 1998 to escape a 15-month sentence for Holocaust Denial. Recently, the government of Switzerland issued an international arrest warrant against Graf, who resides in Tehran. In urging the intervention of Lebanese authorities, the Wiesenthal Center letter said, in part, "there is a wide range of viewpoints as to how peace can be reached in your region, but certainly the introduction and acceptance of Holocaust denial into the mainstream of Lebanon and the Arab world is not one of them. It will only poison hearts and minds of the uninformed and further fan the flames of hate and mistrust in the region." In addition to Lebanese and Swiss authorities, the Wiesenthal Center has also contacted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives over the matter.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a leading international Jewish human rights organization that has NGO status at the United Nations.

For more information, contact the Wiesenthal Center's Public Relations department, 310-553-9036.