Last night on CNN, Anderson Cooper, interviewing the Iranian president, wandered into the subject of Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust:

COOPER: You have repeatedly implied that the Holocaust never happened. And … implied that more research needs to be done on whether or not it did happen.

… The argument could be made that the genocide was perhaps the most well-documented genocide of the 20th century. Do you really believe that the Holocaust never happened?

AHMADINEJAD: If this event happened, where did it happen? The where is the main question. And it was not in Palestine. Why is the Holocaust used as a pretext to occupy the Palestinian lands?

COOPER: But do you understand why it’s deeply offensive to people. …

AHMADINEJAD: That subject, how is it connected to the occupying regime in Jerusalem?

COOPER: You do realize though why it would be deeply offensive to so many people that … you even say “if it ever happened”?

AHMADINEJAD: Well, you don’t speak here for all Americans. In the past two or three days, I have met with many members of the media and the press here, some who are even related to the U.S. government. But the questions are the same across the board.

Full transcript here. Meanwhile, lest we think Ahmadinejad is a lone crazy-ass voice on the subject — Holocaust denial turns out to be a rather virulent theme in Iranian public discourse, as evidenced by this transcript from the Iranian News Channel (IRINN) on December 27, 2005 (via MEMRI):

Political analyst Hosein Rouyvaran: “The number of Jews in the world (before World War II) was about 13 million. After World War II, the number of Jews in the world was over 12 million. The killing of six million Jews in the crematoria is a myth, not a fact, as proven by geography. Furthermore, as Mr. Abu Jihad has stated, 50 million people were killed in World War II. Why do they focus on the figure of six million, even if we assume this figure is correct? In addition, during World War II, many massacres were committed against humanity. We have Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and the city of Larson in Germany. In the city of Larson alone… Perhaps this hasn’t been dealt with extensively… In several days of bombardment, 135,000 people were killed in this city. Many massacres… Many crimes against humanity were committed in World War II.

“There’s another matter. In the discussion of the Holocaust the issue of four detention facilities is raised: Auschwitz, Struthof, Mauthausen, and Majdanek. Some were in Germany, and some in Poland. There are many issues worthy of discussion: For hygienic reasons, they used to burn the bodies of those who died of typhus or contagious diseases. This means the crematoria were used for hygienic, not political, purposes, and even this was not systematically. That’s one thing. The crematoria… The gas chambers were for disinfecting the clothes and the possessions of the prisoners. This too was done for hygienic reasons. In any case, the many researchers who studied this issue said that of the several millions who died in the detention facilities, only 150,000 to 250,000 were Jews. This is a perfectly reasonable figure out of the total number of victims. There is no need to focus on this issue, to discuss it separately, or to present inflated estimates.” […]

Host Mohammad Sajedi: “Let’s assume that six million Jews perished. Who killed them? Even if this is true, why should the Muslims pay the price? The Europeans themselves should bear the consequences. Is this analysis correct?”

Hosein Rouyvaran: “Yes, of course. It’s certainly true. The Jews in Europe lived in isolation from the European society for social reasons. Either they lived in ghettos – areas segregated from society -or else the Europeans isolated them, and there was racist behavior towards the Jews. Or maybe the Jews had a tendency to set themselves apart. At any rate, the Europeans were not friendly towards the Jews, and did not regard them as part of their society. Consequently, and as a result of the unique economic activity of the Jews in Europe, the Europeans wanted to liberate themselves from the Jews. There were other reasons too. The Zionist movement raised the issue of the Holocaust. All kinds of pretexts were used to enable Europe to liberate itself from the Jews.” […]

Muhammad Abu Jihad, Palestinian Islamic Jihad representative in Iran: “When I read about the Holocaust from the historical perspective, I came across some documents about an agreement between the Zionist Movement and the leaders of Nazi Germany. The agreement was negotiated in 1937. At the time, the Jews were leading normal lives in Europe, and did not want to emigrate to Palestine, which was presented as their homeland in the Balfour Declaration. The Jews did not want to emigrate, but this agreement was secret, and it was signed by the leaders of the world Zionist movement. To be specific, among the witnesses to this agreement were Ben-Gurion, who was in Germany at the time, and Golda Meir, who was in Poland.” […]

Hosein Rouyvaran: “At the end of World War II, the Nuremberg Court was established as a new means used by international law. Many of those prosecuted were accused of killing Jews in the crematoria. America applied a double standard here. Those who committed crimes against humanity… America was one of the victors in World War II. Therefore, they only prosecuted (people) from the other side. Those who committed various crimes in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Larson, were not prosecuted.”

As Jean Baudrillard once said — “Forgetting the extermination is part of the extermination itself.” Sadly, the attitudes of some commentators around Iran about the Holocaust are not inconsistent with a regime that seeks to wipe Israel off the face of the map. In fact, they’re perfectly consistent.