ATHENS (JTA) — Too many countries are overlooking or minimizing the "heinous words" of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, American Jewish Committee chief David Harris said in Greece.
“The Holocaust denier in chief is the president of Iran," Harris, the AJC’s executive director, said Monday in Thessaloniki in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency. "This is shameful enough. What I find no less shameful, though, is how many countries are prepared to overlook or minimize his heinous words in the interest of ‘solidarity’ or business as usual.”
Harris and a delegation of leaders concluded a three-day trip to Greece on Monday. The group met with Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos; Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris; Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis; Israel’s Ambassador to Greece, Arye Mekel; officials of the New Democracy and PASOK parties; and Greek Jewish leaders.
In Thessaloniki, Harris participated in commemorative events in the city on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“One common denominator of Holocaust deniers is an unquestionable hatred of Jews,” he said. “Why else deny the reality of perhaps the most documented genocide in human history?”
Addressing the recent European Union decision to impose sanctions on Iran, Harris said that “sanctions may cause some economic pinch in a struggling Europe, including Greece, but there are alternative energy suppliers today to minimize disruption. The cost of doing nothing in the long run would, in any case, be much higher than acting now. For example, what would Greece do if Turkey decided it needed a bomb to match Iran’s?"
The AJC leader also said that "in the immediate future, prospects for advancing overall Arab-Israeli relations do not look promising, though the picture is not uniformly bleak.” He added, "At the same time, in some other parts of the Arab world, links with Israel, including economic ties, are quietly developing.”
Harris underlined that “acceptance of Israel and open relations require political courage in the Arab world, as the late Anwar Sadat of Egypt demonstrated,” and that “such courage is largely lacking at the moment."
He also said that the “AJC has long supported an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel as a result of a negotiated outcome between Israelis and Palestinians,” stressing that this is “the only conceivable realistic political deal.”
Referring to the recipe that will lead to such a development, he said the most necessary element is “a Palestinian leader capable of telling his own people that the 63-year dream of eliminating Israel is over and compromise is the answer.”