Neo-Nazis and other extremists from the United States and Europe headlined a December conference in Tehran that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described as a scholarly gathering to debate issues surrounding the Holocaust. But it was actually nothing more than a worldwide conference of virulent Jew haters.
The Dec. 11-12 gathering, hosted by the Foreign Ministry and entitled "Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision," was denounced by the governments of the United States, Britain and numerous other countries. But its sponsors insisted that its only purpose was "to clarify the hidden and open corners of this issue."
Ahmadinejad's proclivities already were well known. He has called the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis a "myth" and proposed Israel's destruction. Last August, Tehran hosted an exhibition of cartoons mocking the Holocaust.
A glance at the conference agenda made that point clearly enough. Among the 67 participants from 30 countries were Holocaust deniers including Frederick Töben of Australia, Robert Faurisson of France, and David Duke of the United States. The list was rounded out with dubious Iranian scholars, a handful of "investigators" from other countries, and a tiny fringe group of Orthodox Jews who despise Zionism.
The best known was certainly Duke. The former imperial wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — a man who once wore a swastika armband and faux brown-shirt outfit — told the crowd the conference was "one of the most important of the 21st century," adding it was "truly about respect for intellectual freedom."
"The U.S. State Department, under thorough control of international Zionism, in a formal statement called this conference a 'disgrace'," Duke said. "But we at this conference have decided that no longer will we let the Zionists dictate to us."
Duke was officially billed as representing MAUP, a Ukrainian-language acronym for the Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management, a sprawling university in suburban Kiev with nearly 60,000 students. Duke has spoken many times at MAUP and was awarded an honorary doctorate there several years ago, before earning a "real" doctorate in September 2005 for a thesis entitled "Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism." The university, labeled a "diploma mill" by the U.S. State Department, is infamous for its anti-Semitic publications and leadership.