Last week, Ahmadinejad first questioned whether the Nazi destruction of 6 million European Jews during World War II truly occurred and said Israel should be moved to Europe.
In October, he drew international condemnation by calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
But Wednesday was the first time he publicly denied the Holocaust. “They have fabricated a legend under the name ‘Massacre of the Jews,’ and they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves,” he told a crowd in the southeastern city of Zahedan, according to Reuters.
“If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?” he asked rhetorically. “This is our proposal: If you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country.”
The comments drew immediate condemnation from the White House.
“All responsible leaders in the international community recognize how outrageous such comments are,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, reported the Associated Press. He added that the statement shows why Iran must not be allowed to construct an atomic bomb.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “The combination of extremist ideology, a warped understanding of reality and nuclear weapons is a combination that no one in the international community can accept.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the comments may impact European talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
“I cannot hide the fact that this weighs on bilateral relations and on the chances for the negotiation process, the so-called nuclear dossier,” he said.
Ahmadinejad’s views contrast sharply with that of his more moderate predecessor Mohammad Khatami, who worked toward dialogue among civilizations and had a low-key understanding with the United States that stopped short of diplomatic relations.
The current president has been unapologetic about taking Iran on a more openly defiant course, insisting that Iran has the right to develop a nuclear program, which the country asserts is for peaceful purposes only.