Israeli-Arab activist in mission to tackle Iran over Holocaust

An Israeli-Arab lawyer plans to travel to Iran next month to preach his message at an official conference that all Muslims need to appreciate the true magnitude of the Holocaust.

Khaled Mahameed, who started the Arab world's first Holocaust museum in Nazareth, has been invited to address the conference, Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision, in Tehran on 11 and 12 December.

Mr Mahameed said yesterday his challenge to the questioning of the Holocaust by the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would be: "Do not deny or even argue about the authenticity of the Holocaust ... You are not helping the Palestinian people. You are hurting their cause."

Mr Mahameed was invited to attend the conference after sending copies of articles he had written on Jewish suffering in the Second World War to various Iranian contacts as a correction after the President's views were reported.

He has also established a modest private exhibition in the first floor of his house of 80 harrowing photographs purchased from Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial and museum to the victims of the Holocaust, in Jerusalem, with captions he has translated into Arabic. A leaflet he has written gives a sympathetic and factual account of the horrors.

He said he intended to ask for an interview with the Iranian President in which he would try to persuade him to change his views. He said he had sent a copy of his book, The Palestinians and the State of the Holocaust, to President Ahmadinejad four months ago.

A text on the wall of his museum declares: "The Palestinians are the only people in the world who for the sake of providing shelter to the Jews have paid their homeland as a price for the sins and the deeds of the Nazis."

But Mr Mahameed also believes that Arab understanding of the Holocaust is an important step to a lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israel. He is passionate in arguing that Palestinians cannot expect Jews to appreciate the suffering of Palestinians displaced or driven out of their homes in the war of 1948 unless they first start to understand what he is acknowledges is the far greater Jewish catastrophe of the Holocaust.

He also rejects the statement by President Ahmadinejad that Israel should "relocate" to Europe because of European guilt for their suffering. "Israel is a fact on the ground," he said. "You cannot end the problem by switching the button off to the time before the establishment of the Jewish state."

Mr Mahameed, preparing to face harsh criticism for his views when he visits Tehran, was studying the Koran for sympathetic references to the Jews. He said these included depiction of the Jews as victims of persecution by the Egyptian Pharoahs, who killed their children and took their women as slaves.

Mr Mahameed revealed in May last year that his decision to set up the museum, which has its own website, had meant the neglect of his legal practice, a start-up cost of £2,400, the ridicule of some fellow Muslims, the indifference of Nazareth's (Christian Arab) mayor and a deep rift with his own brother.

He said: "People say I am a crazy for making this issue the centre of my life. They should realise that I am serving the Palestinian cause. The world will not see our Nakba [the "disaster" or flight of Palestinians from their homes in 1948] before we could feel for their Holocaust."

Affirming that six million Jews died in the Holocaust, Mr Mahameed's website, www.alkaritha.org, says: "We believe that the Arabs have no adequate information about the Holocaust, or have minimal information ... And because of that the majority of the Arab people denies the Holocaust."

* President Ahmadinejad has told the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, that Iran is ready to consult with Italy on Middle East issues, Mr Prodi's office said yesterday. The letter came a day after France, Italy and Spain presented a Middle East peace initiative, asserting that Europe must try to end years of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk