April 19, 2001

Jordanian writers plan Holocaust denial meeting

The Associated Press

AMMAN - The Jordanian Writers' Federation is planning to hold a Holocaust denial conference Sunday, less than a month after a similar meeting was banned in Lebanon.

"The Jews lied to us on the Holocaust and we want to expose that lie to the people," one of the organizers, Hayat Atiyah, said Thursday.

Jordanian government officials were not immediately available for comment, but the state did warn the writers' federation against holding a similar conference planned for April 8 - two days before King Abdullah II met U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington. The conference did not take place.

Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, which was marked Thursday in neighboring Israel where sirens wailed for two minutes nationwide to commemorate the victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish center of research on the Holocaust, has sent a letter to the writers' federation urging it to cancel Sunday's meeting, Atiyah told The Associated Press. "But we will neither heed such call nor bow to any pressure," she said.

Atiyah, a Lebanese writer who lives in Jordan, said the conference would focus on exploring the historical link between Zionism and Nazism as well as Jews using the Holocaust to gain the sympathy of the world.

She said there was no connection between Sunday's event and the organizers of the similar conference that was scheduled to begin in Lebanon on March 31. Its chief organizers were the Swiss group Verite et Justice or Truth and Justice. The Lebanese government banned that conference, winning praise from Jewish groups around the world.

Many critics of the conference, including the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and other Arab intellectuals, saw it as nothing but a recipe for bad publicity at a time when Lebanon was working to attract foreign investment and tourists.

Atiyah said she would speak at the Jordanian meeting along with Jordanian writers Arafat Hijazi, Hisham Hudeib and Ibrahim Alloush. The four had planned to take part in the Lebanese conference, she added.

The conference organizers appear to be counting on winning sympathy among Arabs angered over the loss of Palestinian lives in the current uprising in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.