(JTA) — The European Union regrets the attendance of an anti-Zionist rabbi accused of Holocaust denial at an event it sponsored.
Rabbi Moshe Aryeh Friedman attended a conference on Arab-European dialogue held last month at the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels. Friedman, who lives in Antwerp, is perhaps best known for attending a conference in Tehran in 2006 organized by then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad featuring Holocaust deniers. According to The Guardian, Friedman said there that only 1 million Jews died in the Holocaust. The Bloomberg news agency reported that he had said the Holocaust was “successful fiction.”
Friedman told JTA both reports were “false and fake.”
“It is regrettable that this has led to a situation which has caused offense,” EU spokeswoman Marjory van den Broeke told JTA Thursday.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin of the European Jewish Association, said in a statement Thursday: “It is revolting that the European Parliament, which was founded upon the ruins of Holocaust, is using taxpayers’ money to fund an event attended by a person who denies the Holocaust.”
According to van den Broeke, Friedman was invited to the Nov. 13 conference, titled ”Arab-European Dialogue in the 21st Century: Towards a Common Vision,” by the event’s organizers, the Kuwait-based Al Babtain Foundation. His photo was featured on an event booklet bearing the European Parliament logo.
“From resolutions adopted in the past by the European Parliament, it will be clear that the views expressed by Mr. Friedman are not shared by the Parliament,” she wrote. Friedman, she added, “was not contacted or invited by any European Parliament official but came as a representative of the Jewish orthodox community in Austria and in Belgium.”
Margolin said, “Those communities have condemned and excommunicated Friedman. We expect the parliament to take seriously events that is funds. We will gladly help prevent such unfortunate errors in the future.”