From Egypt, a crack in wall of Holocaust denial

Robert Satloff | Special to the Baltimore Sun
Posted February 26, 2007

When the United Nations considered a landmark resolution condemning Holocaust denial last month, the media missed a major story: One of the first delegates out of his chair to express support for “keeping memory alive” was the ambassador from Egypt.

This was a major breakthrough. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be the world’s most famous Holocaust denier, but he has only followed the model of a former president of Egypt — Gamal Abdel Nasser — who once said that “no person, not even the most simple one, takes seriously the lie of the 6 million Jews that were murdered.” Just two years ago, Egypt took the lead in criticizing the original U.N. resolution establishing Jan. 27 as international Holocaust Remembrance Day.
To me, it came as no surprise that Egypt, leader of the Sunni Arab world, now supports a resolution targeted mainly against Iran. Just days before the U.N. vote, I returned from an eye-opening visit to Cairo where I delivered lectures on my book Among the Righteous: Lost Stories From the Holocaust’s Long Reach Into Arab Lands, which details the often-overlooked experience of the half-million Jews who lived in Axis-controlled North Africa. This was almost surely the first time anyone had spoken publicly in an Arab capital on the Arab role in the Holocaust.