A senior member of the Russian Jewish community said the acknowledgement of the Holocaust by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was neither new, nor enough, to change attitudes towards the Iranian regime.
The Iranian leaders have acknowledged Holocaust before, although to a different extent, but Hassan Rouhani’s statement change nothing as long as the Iranian state maintains its anti-Israeli rhetoric, said Borukh Gorin, of the Federation of the Jewish Communities of Russia.
“I would say that people are paying a disproportional amount of attention to this because they do not understand what was there before. The Iranian state is now showing the lack of anti-Semitism as an ethnic division of people in its ideology, but it maintains the political rejection of Zionism and the state of Israel, which it wants to destroy,” Gorin told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The Russian Jewish official added that Iran had never had Holocaust denial as its official policy, and even former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known for his harsh and controversial statements, never refuted the very fact of the Holocaust, but only mentioned the speculation around Holocaust.
“When Rouhani says that the Israeli state has the right to exist, and the calls for its destruction are wrong, this would become a revolution in dialectics," Gorin noted.
During his two presidential terms Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly blasted Israel and questioned the reliability of evidence to the “pretext for the creation of the Zionist regime”, calling the massacre of millions of Jews by the Nazis “a legend”. After the last Iranian presidential poll its winner Hassan Rouhani described these statements as "hate rhetoric" that had brought the country to the brink of war. Ahmadinejad, however, refused to back down and described his bringing up of this topic as one of his greatest achievements.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, publicly acknowledged Nazi crimes against Jews in a Tuesday interview with CNN. Rouhani was in New York where he is taking part in the UN General Assembly.
"I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect," the Iranian President said. "But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable.”
Before the interview was aired the PM Benjamin Netanyahu had instructed Israel’s UN delegation to boycott Rouhani’s speech. The Israeli leader’s office said that the representatives would only be present at public addresses of Iranian officials when these officials stop denying the Holocaust, stop advocating the destruction of the Israeli state, and admit that it has the right to exist.