Ahmadinejad is working to build hatred against Israel, hatred against Israelis, while at the same time building his own power in order to destroy Israel.

Address by Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Aaron Abramovich to the International Conference of the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism
Jerusalem, 24 February 2008

Heads of the diplomatic mission, parliamentarians from different countries, distinguished scholars from academia, heads of NGOs, leaders of Jewish communities and organizations, justices and legal experts, ladies and gentlemen,

I am greatly honored to open the annual conference of the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, and I am privileged to host this conference here in Jerusalem at the Foreign Ministry. Especially on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel it gives me great pleasure to host such a distinguished forum here in our ministry. This forum includes senior representatives from more than 45 countries.

More than 60 years after the Holocaust, the challenge of dealing with antisemitism lies in the fact that we thought that maybe this issue would be easier to deal with after the independence of Israel, but we see today in antisemitism a great and dangerous threat. Your participation in this conference is important to us because we see you as partners in fighting the battle against antisemitism and the hatred against Israel.

In this conference, you are going to discuss many issues. One of them is antisemitism in the Muslim and Arab world. Other issues are antisemitism in the guise of anti-Zionism, antisemitism in the media and the Internet, and antisemitism in academia and in intellectual circles. But when we deal with antisemitism today, when we see the situation around us in the international community and try to analyze the situation, a good place to start looking is Iran.

Iran has become a source of hatred against Israel, hatred against the Jewish people and a source for denial of the Holocaust. If you look at some of the recent statements by Ahmadinejad in the last few years, as I was trying to do, you’d be surprised, as I was. I am dealing with this issue, with the issue of Iran and its attempts to obtain nuclear weapons, on a daily basis. Yet in following what Ahmadinejad has been saying, I was astonished.

Here are some quotes from Ahmadinejad, some of his statements about the Holocaust. On December 14, 2005 he said, "Today the Europeans have created a myth by the name of the Holocaust." For him, of course, the Holocaust did not occur; it is only a myth. On August 2, 2006, he spoke about Zionists, meaning of course the Jews: "Are they human beings?" he asks. "They are a group of blood thirsty savages putting all other criminals to shame." In other words, dehumanization. And just this month, he said, "The world powers established the filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast." Doesn’t this remind us of similar words from the past?

And then he speaks about the destruction of Israel. On October 26, 2005, he said: "Israel must be wiped off the map. The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world." On November 13, 2006, he spoke again of the destruction of Israel: "Israel is destined for destruction and will soon disappear." And on June 3, 2007, he said: "With God’s help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon and Palestine. By God’s will, we will witness the destruction of the regime in the near future."

This is Ahmadinejad and these are his words about the Holocaust, about the Jewish people and the Israeli people. And these are his words about the destruction of Israel.

But Ahmadinejad does not only talk; he has been taking action. He is consistently making an effort to achieve what he speaks about. And we have learned our lesson from history about people who speak and act in this way. He is trying to achieve nuclear weapons and he is continuing to work at it day by day while trying to deceive the entire world.

We are pleased with yesterday’s report of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], who were not deceived by Ahmadinejad and delivered the message that Ahmadinejad is indeed continuing with his efforts to achieve nuclear weapons and is trying to attack Israel. He is not merely preparing himself for the future; he is continuing to attack Israel with help from the north from Hizbullah and with help from the south from Hamas. He is also increasing his efforts to attack Israel day by day by sending terrorists, by supplying ammunition and weapons and by training terrorists who will attack Israel.

So he continues to speak against Israel, and in doing so he uses words and terms that we haven’t heard in many years and which we thought had perhaps disappeared. But he has brought them back from history and is trying to use them in the same way and with the same terminology even today.

In addition, he is using other means. He is trying to use a double lie against us. What is this double falsehood? First of all, he says that Israel was a result of the Holocaust, that the Europeans, because they didn’t know what to do with us, established the State of Israel. We know the truth. We know that the efforts to establish the State of Israel originated long before the Holocaust. It was the desire and the strong will of the Jews who came here more than a hundred years ago to establish the State of Israel. But Ahmadinejad is trying to claim that Israel was established because of the Holocaust. He then asserted that there was no Holocaust, and he convened a conference for the sheer purpose of denying the Holocaust. So if you claim that Israel is a result of the Holocaust and that there was no Holocaust, then Israel does not have the right to exist, and that amounts to calling for the destruction of Israel.

So this is the great threat that we are facing now. It’s a palpable threat which is trying to change the way people think, trying to deceive them. It is a voice speaking loudly, denying the Holocaust, speaking about Israelis as animals, attempting to dehumanize Israelis and the entire Jewish people. All this brings to us something that we knew in the past but in a new format: the format cultivated by Ahmadinejad who is working to build hatred against Israel, hatred against Israelis, while at the same time building his own power in order to destroy Israel.

We must tell him that we will not let this happen. The international community will not allow him to continue his efforts, and it is time for action; 2008 is the time for action. Later might be too late, because he is working today to build his arsenal and his capabilities, day by day. And he is doing it in spite of the international community, in spite of the sanctions of the international community, in spite of UN resolutions. He continues in his efforts, trying to build his capabilities. And we must stop him. We must stop Iran. If we do not stop Iran this year, it will be too late.

I believe that the question which was asked in the past –  "What did you do and where did you stand at the time when action was needed" –  is one we are going to be asked again, all of us here, leaders of the international community, people who have standards of morality. We are going to be asked years from now what we did in order to stop Ahmadinejad. Because if we do not do it now it will be too late.

I hope that this two-day conference will give us all ideas for fighting antisemitism, for not allowing people like Ahmadinejad to continue their efforts. I hope that these two days will be an opportunity for us all to think together, and to come up with ideas for action together.

Thank you very much.