President Ahmadinejad of Iran was absolutely right to boast that "now there is serious debate about the Holocaust in the media and also political and popular meetings."
The international press has paid rapt attention to every one of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements on the Holocaust. He is given unprecedented space in newspapers, TV, and magazines such as Time, whose current edition includes a "second exclusive" interview in three months. As the New York Times reported on Thursday, now Mr. Ahmadinejad "has a platform to promote the theories — and try to position himself regionally as the reasonable man who is asking hard questions."
The Holocaust deniers who participated in the conference in Iran last week also have been given an unparalleled opportunity to express their views in prime time on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. The latter two aired lengthy interviews with a former Ku Klux Klan leader who was the keynote speaker at the conference, David Duke.
Press outlets have given considerable space to the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta rabbis, whose hateful views were discussed in a long Washington Post article on December 14. In the past year, this group of miscreants — mislabeled in the Iranian press as "chief" and "prominent" rabbis — has met with the leadership of the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
According to Iran's Fars News Agency, at the conference the rabbis lauded Mr. Ahmadinejad's "friendship with the Jewish community." No mention was made that family members of the Neturei Karta leadership were murdered at Auschwitz.
Mr. Ahmadinejad has also succeeded in uniting the world's leading Holocaust deniers into one body and under one leadership. The establishment of an Iran-led "World Foundation for Holocaust Studies," charged with finding out "the truth about the Holocaust," was announced December 14.
The Iranian president instructed his Foreign Ministry and embassies throughout the world last week to push Holocaust denial. The Iranian ambassador to Indonesia, Behrouz Kamalvandi, gave an interview to Indonesia Metro TV on December 13. In response to a question about the outcome of the conference, Mr. Kamalvandi said the "first and most evident result of the event was to bring up the issue in various countries." And the Iranian ambassador to Syria, Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that the "Holocaust is false" and the "gas chambers and the Treblinka and Auschwitz extermination camps have never existed."
According to the Iranian press, many of the Holocaust deniers who participated in the conference now worship Mr. Ahmadinejad. One Swiss researcher was quoted by Fars News on December 12 as saying the Iranian president is a "God given gift who has come to help to the destruction of the myth of the Holocaust."
"French Scholar Views Ahmadinejad's Words as a Miracle," was another Fars News headline on December 12. The article quoted an unnamed French attendee as saying conducting research or speaking about the Holocaust had not been possible for the past 20 years, and "the miraculous question" that Mr. Ahmadinejad "raised recently has now created a fully new condition regarding this issue." The French scholar added that the "Israeli state must be annihilated."
The conference has yielded some surprising results. Although the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying the participants "enjoyed the taste of freedom" while in Iran and that once they "return to their homelands, their governments will not bother them," he was mistaken.
The French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson — who said at the conference, "I declare that the chimneys you claim Hitler had built to burn the Jews is a sheer lie" — is now under investigation by the French authorities.
A Swedish high school teacher, Ian Bernhoff, claimed at the conference that only 300,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis. When he returned home, he was fired.
Thirty-four international NGOs that previously had relations with the Iranian Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Audiences, which organized the conference, have now cut all ties to it.
In response, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki of Iran accused the West of mistreating the Holocaust deniers: "They try to charge them with different allegations and thus block the path of research on Holocaust on every excuse."
For the most part there have been strong reactions in the West against Iran in the week since the conference, including a group of Russian duma deputies canceling a visit yesterday to Tehran. But there has been very little reaction from Iran's Arab neighbors.
A Somali-born former Dutch member of parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, eloquently wrote in the International Herald Tribune on December 15: "I cannot help but wonder: Why is there no counter-conference in Riyadh, Cairo, Lahore, Khartoum or Jakarta condemning Ahmadinejad? Why is the Organization of the Islamic Conference silent on this?"
Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.