A recent "Los Angeles Times" editorial headline was dangerously understated. It read: "Holocaust denial can be dangerous." How about the "Holocaust denial IS dangerous"?
Paulo Casaca, a member of the European Parliament, recognizes the severity of Holocaust denial. As the conference in Tehran closed, he wrote to the Parliament's secretary-general: "It was with much disgust that I received reports on the Neo-Nazi Summit held in Tehran ..." He continued, "As you are aware, the Iranian regime hosted individuals and organizations from 60 countries with the sole purpose of endorsing and reawakening Nazism, denying the Holocaust and attacking Israel. This outrageous action can not be ignored by the European Union and deserves the most vehement of the protests." That's more like it.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, author of "The Return of Anti-Semitism," takes it a few decibels higher. He tells me: "In 1998, Bill Clinton unleashed a fusillade of cruise missiles to strike an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan where bin Laden was believed to be present. Bin Laden survived the attack and on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States and the world paid a stiff price for failing to kill him. If ... at the very moment that Ahmadinejad was addressing this Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran, the United States or Israel or, better yet, Germany, had lobbed a cruise missile into the hall, are there any who can doubt that the world would be much better off?"
Is Schoenfeld nuts? No. That's a word that more accurately describes the meeting he was talking about, which featured people like David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan "Grand Wizard" who dreams of being president of the United States, and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the nuclear-minded lunatic who was holding the conference in shooting distance of Israel (the country he wants to wipe off the map).
The Holocaust conference -- and subsequent David Duke appearances on CNN -- came in the wake of the recent James Baker/Lee Hamilton-chaired Iraq Study Group Report, advising the White House on what to do about Iraq. Baker, who is not known for his friendliness to Israel, recommends that the United States talk with Iran and Syria more; he pins blame for the region's problems on Israel. The report also came shortly after the release of an Israel-bashing book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" (Simon & Schuster), by former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter.
Contrary to what Ahmadinejad may assert, the Holocaust did happen, and 6 million Jews were murdered. And -- contrary to what "useful idiot" David Duke announced in Tehran -- that gas chambers were never used on Jews. As crazy as Ahmadinejad & Co.'s contentions are, they do matter. James Robbins, a professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., recently wrote: "The Lenins, the Maos, the Pol Pots . . . are no different than the types collected in Tehran. It is a mistake not to take such people seriously, and not to accept that they believe what they say they believe. The liberal impulse to discount the extremist, to rationalize his views, to refuse to take his threats literally, especially when he is in power, is itself a form of denial."
Being hostile to Israel isn't necessarily a sign of anti-Semitism; but continually blaming Israel first might very well be. It's an instinct we see way too much of, and it reinforces true and dangerous anti-Semites. Denial IS dangerous. The West has already learned that lesson -- haven't we?