History ought to judge Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as harshly as he judges history. The state conference he just held to "debunk" the Holocaust is not only outrageous, it's a transparent effort to curry favor with extremists and undermine the legitimacy of the state of Israel.
To make those arguments, he brought in such credible historians, if you'll pardon the sarcasm, as former Louisiana Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. That should be enough of an embarrassment to make even Duke blush, but there's no evidence he did.
The Tehran conference was being billed as a chance to force the West to reconsider the historical record. Also participating was Frances Robert Faurisson, who has worked to prove the Nazi gas chambers were a myth.
There is abundant scholarly material and evidence -- including witnesses, both Jewish and German -- to the murder of 6 million Jews. But since taking office in August of last year, Ahmadinejad has made it clear he is dedicated to the obliteration of the state of Israel, even more so than his predecessors. Denying the Holocaust undercuts the rationale for Israel's establishment after World War II. Ahmadinejad may actually believe that nonsense, but apparently he also thinks that by debunking the Holocaust he can change established relationships and the terms of political debate in the Middle East. It's an attempt to roll the clock back and spur the neighbors into action.
The fact that Israel will remain is something most other nations have come to accept. Egypt, for example, has normalized relations. As Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council said, there is a slow, inexorable drift toward detente. Yet there still are entities that do not recognize Israel's right to exist -- Syria, Iran and groups such as Hamas and al-Qaida.
Ahmadinejad has placed himself, and his country, in that company. The only thing he has debunked is his own credibility.