Holocaust Deniers Plan Conference in Jordan On Israel's Independence Day

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Israel's top religious leader urged Jordan's King Abdullah II Wednesday not to allow Holocaust deniers to hold a conference in his country.

The conference, originally planned to take place in Beirut, is now reportedly to begin in Amman on May 15, the 53rd anniversary of Israel's independence.

Entitled "Revisionism and Zionism," the conference intends to gather individuals from around the world who purport that the Nazis' systematic mass murder of six million Jews did not take place or that the number of those reported killed was grossly exaggerated.

The gathering was to have taken place in the Lebanese capital at the end of March but was cancelled by government order after heavy campaigning by Jewish organizations, and the opposition of some Arab intellectuals. It would have been the first time that such a gathering was held in an Arab capital.

Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau sent a letter to Abdullah on Wednesday saying that holding the conference in Jordan would be a "terrible blemish" on the country and damage relations between the two neighbors.

Lau said he appealed to the king not only as the chief rabbi of Israel, but also as a survivor himself. Most of Lau's family perished in the Holocaust, and he was held in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

The director of the Simon Weisenthal Center (SWC) in Jerusalem, Ephraim Zuroff, said earlier it was "quite terrible" for Jordan to hold such a conference, "considering Jordan has signed a peace treaty with Israel."

Lau's spokesman, Yitzik Rat, said that organizers did not need the permission of the king to hold the conference. Nonetheless, Lau was certain that if the king were aware of it he would cancel it.

Lau also hoped to arouse international public opinion against the conference, Rat said.

Anti-Defamation League spokesperson in Jerusalem, Laura Kam Issacharoff, said she would be surprised if the king would allow such a conference to take place. It would undoubtedly antagonize the U.S. government.

Sponsored jointly by the U.S.-based Institute for Historical Review and the Swiss-based Verite et Justice (Truth and Justice), the conference was originally described in great detail on the IHR's website.

On Wednesday, however, both the "Conference" and "Beirut 2001" links on the site did not work.

Earlier, it was touted as a great victory by the IHR to hold such a conference in an Arab venue.

Anti-Semitic articles and cartoons are regular fare in state-run media throughout the Middle East. Israelis are often depicted as Nazis and the Palestinians as their victims. Israelis are accused of using the Holocaust as an excuse for establishing a state in the Middle East. Other times, the fact that the Holocaust took place is denied altogether.

Rat said Lau did not expect to receive a quick response to his letter, which was sent through the Foreign Ministry.

In the letter Lau said, "the conference of Holocaust deniers carries with it a message opposite of promising peace and brotherhood. It is planned to take place purposely on the day that the state of Israel was established 53 years ago."

Lau noted that Lebanon refused to host the conference and even Jordan postponed it once before.

"Your glory will not be renowned nor the glory of your kingdom, by cooperation with the Holocaust deniers, even though it is passive," he said, appealing to the king to do all within his power to prevent the conference from being held.

According to the SWC, the conference was apparently to have been held on April 8, but was delayed by organizers so it would not embarrass the king on the eve of his first meeting with President Bush.