Institute for Historical Review

Institute for Historical Review

Beirut Revisionist Conference


As-Safir (Beirut, Lebanon)
March 3, 2001

[Translation from Arabic]

Washington Demands of Lebanon ... And Warns It Against Hosting The 'Holocaust Denial' Conference.

Hisham Melhem

The American government desires of Lebanon that it prohibit convening a conference in Beirut of groups and organizations that deny that the Nazi "Holocaust" against the Jews occurred. It expressed its concern over the negative effects such a conference would have not only on the reputation of Lebanon abroad, but also over the effects it might have on the attitude of Congress towards Lebanon and the aid it will grant it.

This has appeared at the same time that several American Jewish organizations demanded that the Lebanese government prohibit the convening of the conference whose sponsors these organizations accused of being racist and anti-Semitic.

Informed American sources have told as-Safir that Washington informed Lebanon of this position via its ambassador, David Satterfield in Beirut and in communication with the Lebanese ambassador in Washington, Farid Abboud. Sources in Congress have also conveyed their reservations about the conference to the Lebanese government.

The organization Vérité et Justice that is headquartered in Switzerland is organizing the conference in cooperation with the Institute for Historical Review which has its headquarters in the state of California and is considered one of the foremost American organizations that deny that the "Holocaust" occurred. This is the first time in which a conference of this type will be held in an Arab state. Until now the organizers of the conference have not announced the place where the conference will be held in Beirut, though they have declared that it will begin on the 31st of this month and end on the 3rd of April. The title of the conference is Revisionism and Zionism.

American officials say that Iran and "Hezbollah" in Lebanon are behind the organization of the conference although they say that they have no firm proof of that. They add that if Lebanon cannot prohibit the conference on the grounds of freedom of expression -- particularly since similar conferences have been held in America and the authorities could not ban them -- then Lebanon must at least declare that it has no connection with the conference. American uneasiness over the conference stems from the content of the conference as well as from its timing -- coinciding as it does with an explosion of the situation between the Palestinians and Israelis and the tension that the region as a whole is experiencing. The Americans question whether it is appropriate to hold such a conference in Lebanon and say that Lebanon, which faces many problems and threats, is not in need of an additional problem, particularly since the conference is inexcusable morally and politically and because it can only create problems and distress for Lebanon.

According to a registration questionnaire distributed by the Institute for Historical Review, prior registration is required for those attending the conference for security reasons. Every conference participant will be given his own telephone number in Beirut and he must call that number upon arrival at Beirut airport "to obtain information on the location of the conference."

Some days ago Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an official of the Jewish Simon Wisenthal center in California, sent a letter to the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri demanding that he prohibit the conference. The letter read in part, "there are many opinions concerning the possibility of attaining peace in your region, but definitely introducing the topic of denial of the "holocaust" into the political discourse in Lebanon and the Arab world is not one of those opnions. This will only lead to poisoning the hearts and minds of the uninformed and will further inflame the fires of hatred and lack of trust in the region." The letter indicated the director of the organization Vérité et Justice in Switzerland, Jürgen Graf, had fled from Switzerland in 1998 to avoid a prison sentence and took refuge in Iran.

The director of the Jewish Anti Defamation League, Rabbi Abraham Foxman said that those who deny the occurrance of the "Holocaust" and who hitherto have focused their activities on Europe and America "are now trying to spread anti-Semitism in the Muslim states where there is an evil record of using denial of the holocaust against Israel." In Foxman's opinion the tense situation in the Middle East now provides fertile ground for those who deny the occurance of the holocaust. Jewish organizations have informed the State Department and Congress of their position in opposition to the conference in Beirut and demanded that they put pressure on the American administration in turn to put pressure on Lebanon to ban the convening of the conference.