The recent conference on the holocaust in Iran sparked a lot of coverage and debate. But for some, what was happening on the other side of the world hit very close to home, as Katie discovered. -- Ed.
What could I tell her, this woman who survived against the odds during the Holocaust that killed six and a half million Jews? I could only imagine the horrors she saw, and what it must feel like to hear that a country was now questioning whether her family's nightmare even happened.
It seems hard to imagine that history — in this case, a very well-documented one — could be rewritten. But indeed, that was the attempt. The organizers, the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies, said the two-day conference drew 67 foreign researchers from 30 countries. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, an American, was among the attendees.
The participants called the genocide a "big lie," and the gas chambers a "myth." That view was echoed in one of Iran's hard-line newspapers that concluded, "The international Holocaust conference … has scared the Zionist regime and its western allies, because it may reveal the spuriousness of the Holocaust myth."
I can't grasp what that would mean for people who actually suffered through it to read this.
Many world leaders denounced the conference, but maybe all of us need to be more outspoken when such rhetoric is out there. I'm not sure how you do this. Someone like Iran's president doesn't just say these things to be provocative, but seems to believe the reports of the Holocaust are exaggerated as a reason to justify Israel's existence.
Most intelligent, educated people know, of course, that there is nothing to the Iranian leader's words. But for those who are uneducated, impressionable and afraid, it can be all too easy to fall for these lies.
For the woman at Madison Square Garden and the grandchildren she was with, I hope my voice will be one of many today and in the future.