On September 5, 2013, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that "Iran never denied [the Holocaust]" and that "the man who was perceived to be denying it [i.e. Ahmadinejad] is now gone," and then wished the Jews a "happy new year" [see image below].
In response, regime officials and mouthpieces were quick to point out to Zarif that the regime's policy of denying the Holocaust– especially that of leader Khamenei – has not changed and called on him to apologize. Their criticism indicates their fear that Iran recognizing the Holocaust would legitimize Israel and constitute Iranian recognition of it.
Zarif's statement that Iran never denied the Holocaust contradicts the entire policy of the Iranian regime in recent years – from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to low-level officials. Zarif's attempt to attribute Holocaust denial to one person – Ahmadinejad – in order to whitewash the regime and portray it as tolerant and moderate was also echoed in statements by an official in Iran's Jewish community Haroun Yeshaya, at the end of Ahmadinejad's term. Moreover, Zarif's tweet implies that Ahmadinejad is not actually a Holocaust denier but rather is just perceived as one.
The following are the main reactions triggered by Zarif's statements:
Foreign Minister Zarif Tweets: "Iran Never Denied [The Holocaust]. The Man Who Was Perceived To Be Denying It Is Now Gone"
In an interview with the website Tasnim on September 7, 2013, Zarif explained his position on the Holocaust and Jews: "We were never hostile to Jews or Judaism. We oppose the Zionists, who constitute a minority in this divine faith [Judaism], and we will not permit this small group, the Zionists, [to use] its false propaganda to display Iran as anti-Jewish [while portraying] itself as a victim...
"Iran always condemns any massacre, and as part of this it has also condemned the massacre of the Jews by the Nazis, just as we condemn the massacre and oppression of Palestinians at the hands of the Zionists. We will not allow the criminal Zionists to abuse this matter to cover up their crimes.
"These lies about Iran, which are aimed at gaining political advantage, show how worried the extremist Zionists are [about the possibility] that the Iranian people's true and peaceful face will be revealed... The crime of the Holocaust has become a tool that the Zionists have abused for over 60 years. They portray themselves as poor victims in order to gain world sympathy and thus plunder the rights of the Palestinian people. We must not let them revive this script and this tool so they can abuse it again and oppress Palestinian rights for years to come."
'Kayhan' Editor: Recognizing The Jewish Holocaust Contradicts Regime Position; Zarif Should Retract His Statement
On September 8, 2013, the daily Kayhan, which is close to Leader Khamenei, published an editorial titled "That Man Is Now Gone, But..." by the daily's chief editor, Hossein Shariatmadari. He wrote: "In saying 'the man who denied the Holocaust,' Zarif is referring to Dr. Ahmadinejad. This is an insulting way to refer to the former president. It is unfair and removed from diplomatic conduct, and also untrue... The Holocaust is nothing but a myth created by the Zionists, and Dr. Ahmadinejad raised a wise question and aimed at the Achilles heel of global Zionism by asking: 'If the Holocaust indeed happened, it was Nazi Germany that perpetrated it, so why do the Muslim Palestinian people have to pay for the Nazi crimes, and why shouldn't a county or two in Germany or Austria be given to the Zionists? And if the Holocaust did not happen, why do the Zionists rely on a false story, pretend to be poor victims, and make demands from the entire world?' With this logical question, which no diplomat had the courage or wisdom to raise, Ahmadinejad crushed the false legitimacy of the Zionist regime, and for this he is worthy of esteem and praise.
"Does Zarif have an answer to this scientific and logical question? If he does, let him [state it]. And if he does not have an answer – and he does not – he should praise Ahmadinejad in spoken and written word instead of insulting him and giving comfort – albeit unwillingly – to the enemy [by saying] that 'the man who denied the Holocaust is now gone.'
"... There is not a shred of doubt that the story of the Holocaust is false... In the early 1880s [sic., probably referring to the 1980s], several members of the international Jewish Agency [sic] such as Pierre Emmanuel Vidal-Naquet, Georges Wellers, and Francois Bedarida, led by the famous French Jewish rabbi Rene-Samuel Sirat and relying on the fake story of the massacre of six million Jews in World War II... drafted a law proposal that was approved in France in 1990, according to which 'any questioning of the Holocaust – whether regarding the purported massacre of the Jews during World War II, the existence of gas chambers, or even mild doubt regarding the number of six million Jews who were killed – will be seen as a crime. Anyone breaking this law in France and doubting [one] of these three notions will be jailed between one month and one year and pay a fine of 2,300 francs.' This law was later approved in the rest of Europe following pressure from the U.S., Britain, France, and the international Jewish Agency, and today any doubt regarding the Holocaust is seen as a crime in Europe...
"Dr. Zarif claimed that 'Iran never denied the Holocaust' and did not state which document, testimony, or indication his claim was based on. [Surely,] Iran's foreign minister does not expect Islamic Iran to accept the myth of the Holocaust, which, aside from the claim by the known Jewish rabbi Samuel Sirat, has no supporting documents to prove it.
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"It should be stated that, [while] defending his proposed program [for the foreign ministry] in the Majlis on August 13, 2013, Dr. Zarif stressed his loyalty to the orders of the Imam [Khomeini] and Leader [Khamenei], and later he [also] held commendable stances as Iran's foreign minister. Therefore, we can see this last statement on Twitter as being inaccurate and in need of correction."
Article On Alef.ir: "This Is Not [Ahmadinejad's] Personal Opinion But Rather That Of The Iranian People"
On September 8, 2013, the website Alef.ir, which is close to Majlis member Ahmad Tavakkoli, published an article likewise criticizing Zarif's statement: "You are now the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic [of Iran], and you must definitely defend the achievements of the Islamic revolution [regime] and its ideals. One of these achievements is [asking] three key questions on the Holocaust, and the non-recognition of the false and evil Zionist regime. We never [actually] commented on the Holocaust, but rather asked [questions], like the following questions that were asked by 'the man who is now gone', as you called him [i.e. Ahmadinejad]:
"If the Holocaust took place – we are not saying whether it did or didn't – they must allow to investigate it just like any other historical event...
"If the Holocaust took place – we are not saying whether it did or didn't – [then] who carried it out? Why are the alleged perpetrators not held accountable for their actions?
"If the Holocaust took place – we are not saying whether it did or didn't – why should the Palestinian nation pay for what others have done?... This is not just [Ahmadinejad's] personal opinion but rather the opinion of the Iranian people."
Rajanews.com: Zarif's Statements – A Worrying Sign Of Backing Down From The Regime's Principles
The website Rajanews.com, which is close to supporters of Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, defined the Holocaust as a "grand historical lie" and Zarif's statements as "unacceptable" and "a worrying sign of backing down from the [regime's] principles to achieve certain timely results."
Majlis Member: The Holocaust – A Grand Lie; Rohani's Government Should Continue To Question Its Veracity
In an interview with the website Tasnim on September 8, 2013, Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee member Ismail Kothari said: "[Certain] statements by officials, and especially by the foreign minister, are inappropriate. In my opinion, Zarif, who began his ministerial duties only recently, should not deal with such matters. I believe that the topic of the Holocaust, which was raised by Ahmadinejad in the past, was properly defined [by him]. The Holocaust is a grand lie.
"According to one theory regarding the Holocaust, the Zionist regime inflated this issue for its own benefit so that no one [now] has the right to deal with it or say anything about it. The questions [regarding the Holocaust] that were raised by Ahmadinejad as Iran's president in international forums and even at the U.N. were proper and accurate; therefore, regime officials on all levels must continue this policy. Since the Holocaust is a grand lie, the authors [of this lie] strictly forbid anyone from asking [about it] or investigating it, because this would cause people and international forums to deduce that it is [indeed] false. [Thus,] the crumbling façade of the Holocaust would collapse and the essence of the Zionist regime would be exposed in international forums.
"Our foreign policy officials, and especially Zarif, should display sensitivity to these issues and raise them as important questions in international forums. The topic of the Holocaust is not just relevant to Iran but to all Muslims, and must be promoted as part of their demands. The international community should be held accountable to the Muslims on the topic of the Holocaust, and should clarify why they have thus far not been permitted address [the issue of] the Holocaust, investigate it, and show the world the truth about it."
Former Ahmadinejad Holocaust Adviser And Head Of Iranian Holocaust Conference: Zarif Will Be Blessing The Jews For The Purim Massacre Next
In an article published on September 9, 2013 on the website Mashregh News, Mohammad-Ali Ramin, who was culture minister in Ahmadinejad government and a Holocaust advisor to the president, wrote that Zarif's statement was unbefitting a regime official and contradicted the regime's policy. Zarif, who was the organizer of the 2006 International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, and is one of the most prominent Holocaust deniers in Iran, wrote:
"Mr. Zarif, if you began your term by wishing the Jews a happy new year, later you will have to bless them on Purim, [which marks] the slaughter of your [Persian] helpless people by the evil Jews... In Islamic Iran, those who do not believe in resisting the aggression of the Zionists are unworthy of holding any position or duty. You made a mistake that is at odds with the [regime's] honor, wisdom and interests, and is not worthy of the wise administration [the slogan of Rohani's government]... Mr. Zarif, you should apologize sincerely and correct your style with regards to the regime's foreign policy, in a way that befits the honor of this brave nation and [its] wise leader, Imam Khamenei. This step will serve the government's interest, show its wisdom, and benefit you."
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5389, Iran Jewish Community Official To Ahmadinejad: Stop Denying The Holocaust, August 2, 2013.
 Tasnimnews.com, September 7, 2013.
 Kayhan (Iran), September 8, 2013.
 Alef.ir, September 8, 2013.
 Rajanews.com, September 7, 2013.
 Tasnimnews.com, September 8, 2013.
 Mashreghnews.ir, September 9, 2013.