The German government confirmed that it co-funded a conference where a former Iranian foreign minister said the “Zionist project” should be canceled.
Jens Plotner, a spokesman for German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told the Jerusalem Post that three ministries and the office of Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the Third Transatlantic Conference held last month by the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt. In addition, Plotner said the institute had proposed Muhammad Javad Larijani as a speaker “four months before the event” at a meeting at which the foreign, economics and research ministries and the Chancellor’s Office were represented.
Plotner said the grant came from a fund for “civil society projects.” According to the institute’s Web site, the event also was sponsored by the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation.
Along with his allusion to Israel, Larijani also said that “denial of the Holocaust in the Muslim world has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. And [Iranian] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has never denied the Holocaust.”
In fact, Ahmadinejad invited well-known Holocaust deniers to a conference in Tehran in 2006. A firestorm of protest erupted after Larijani’s statements became public, including calls that the government fire the officials who financed the conference and invited Larijani, as well as for a lawsuit against Larijani.
The Central Council of Jews said the government’s failure to respond to Larijani’s remarks raised questions about the depth of German solidarity with Israel.