December 20, 2006

Neturei Karta "Rabbi" claims Holocaust dead "deserved it"

A British rabbi who angered fellow Jews by speaking at a "Holocaust denial" conference in Iran now says millions did die in gas chambers but may have deserved it.

Ahron Cohen, an Orthodox Jew from Greater Manchester and a leading member of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta movement, sparked new controversy on his return from Tehran by suggesting that God would have saved the victims of the Nazis if they had deserved to live.

Cohen, whose house in Salford was pelted with 1,000 eggs last year because of his extremist views, told The Sunday Times: There is no question that there was a Holocaust and gas chambers. There are too many eyewitnesses.

However, our approach is that when one suffers, the one who perpetrates the suffering is obviously guilty but he will never succeed if the victim did not deserve it in one way or another. We have to look within to improve and try to better ourselves and remove those characteristics or actions that may have been the cause of the success of the Holocaust.

Cohen's trip to Tehran along with four American rabbis from the same sect was paid for by the Iranian foreign ministry, which organised the conference entitled The Holocaust: A Global Vision. They were warmly greeted by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, and had two meetings with him.

Cohen ended his speech to the conference with a prayer that the underlying cause of strife and bloodshed in the Middle East, namely the state known as Israel, be totally and peacefully dissolved.