Why do we consort with racist Holocaust-deniers?

Since Barack Obama came to ­office in 2008 he has bent over backwards to mend fences with the theocratic regime in Iran.

He has pleaded mea culpa over the ­famous CIA intervention in Iran (with MI6) in 1953. He has sought co-operation to bring stability to the Middle East (with no success). He has struck a problematic nuclear deal with Iran. It is problematic because the regime in Tehran is constitutionally truculent and brutal.

Our own government, since Julie Bishop became Foreign Minister, also has taken a conciliatory approach to Iran. Given the many other distractions of international affairs and domestic politics, this policy has gone largely unnoticed. It’s time it was put under greater scrutiny.

That was driven home last month by a particularly nasty government-sponsored cartoon competition in Tehran to lampoon the Holocaust.

If you didn’t hear about this, you should sit up and pay a little attention. As veteran Middle East analysts Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh wrote in The Washington Post on May 27, vicious anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and virulent anti-Zionism are part of the Islamic regime’s DNA. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, godfather of the whole malevolent enterprise, detested the Jews racially and wanted to see Israel wiped off the map.

The regime in Tehran remains committed to these views and goals. It engages in anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda to burnish its pretensions as a leading power in the Muslim Middle East at a time when the Arab powers, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, see Iran as a dangerously ambitious state; and Turkey, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is seeking to stage a kind of neo-­Ottoman revival. The easing of economic sanctions seems unlikely to moderate Iran’s behaviour in this regard.

So, what was this cartoon competition and what makes it so disturbing? It was first held in Tehran in 2006, under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Cartoonists were invited to mock the Holocaust or the idea of the Holocaust, since leading figures in the regime have expressed scepticism as to whether it even occurred.

When called to account, regime spokespeople (well, spokesmen, since they are invariably male) tend to equivocate. But the cartoons don’t.

The first prize this year was awarded to a cartoon that showed what very much looks like the entrance to Auschwitz sitting on top of a cash register that has $6 million in it. It was drawn by a French cartoonist notorious for his anti-Semitic views.

It is worth juxtaposing this exercise and award with the global expressions of outrage by radical Muslims and their secular allies over cartoons lampooning Mohammed. It seems that one 7th-century man’s reactionary views must not be held up to ridicule but the murder of six million people is a subject for mockery.

That fact alone tells us a good deal about the regime in Tehran. Its smooth-tongued, US-educated Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, dances around the question of whether the Holocaust occurred or on what scale.

Read this article by Paul Monk in The Australian.