Friday, February 17, 2006

Even in Auschwitz, dialogue should remain

The management of the Auschwitz concentration camp museum has refused entry to a special committee of the Iranian government, assigned to investigate the Holocaust.

This must be a mistake. It was the British prime minister Tony Blair who saught to diverge international tensions, caused by the Iranian president's denial of the Holocaust, and advised the Iranians to go and see for themselves. He was very right in making this suggestion.

Of course, having to allow entry to a committee with an evident bias against the unprecendented historic event of the holocaust is not an easy task. But then, the whole idea of the Auschwitz museum is not mere remembrance, but also the wish of our civilization that nothing like the Holocaust will ever be repeated. So, in my view, the management of Auschwitz has a very critical responsibility, which includes confrontations such as the one now at hand.

So again, it is a huge mistake not to have Iranians come and look for themselves. It is a missed opportunity of vast proportions.

I do hope that the Polish government understands this mistake and will act swiftly to correct it. But I also know my hopes in this respect cannot go very far. Perhaps other European governments can step in, even only whispering in the ears of their Polish colleagues, and suggest - if need be, with great emphasis - that here is an opportunity for diplomacy with Iran that cannot and should not be missed.

And yet again, I do not raise my hopes beyond reality. Unfortunately, most European governments have responded in extremely weak and evasive terms to the many uproars across the Muslim world over mere cartoons.

The Holocaust thing is not about satire or differences in sense of humor. It is about a fundamental reality in the history of the European world. We better see to it that everybody else on our planet keeps full understanding of that historic reality.
Note 19-2: I wrote an email to the management of the Auschwitz museum with above content.


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