“Shameful!” That summarizes reactions — in Iran and around the world — to the Tehran-hosted conference debating whether the Holocaust happened or not. Iran’s Jewish community called it a “huge insult.” Iranian student protesters called it “shameful” and many “ordinary Iranians were embarrassed,” news reports said.

Conference speeches were reminiscent of the early days of Nazism. Leading European and U.S. Holocaust-denying and fascist ideologues, including Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, joined with Iran’s reactionary leaders to cloak their anti-Semitism in pseudo-anti-imperialist garb.

Former KKK Grand Wizard Duke proclaimed, “The Zionists have used the Holocaust as a weapon to deny the rights of the Palestinians and cover up the crimes of Israel.” With “friends” like this, Palestinian rights will never be won.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added his own mix of reactionary ideology to the brew, saying, “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” He referred to the Holocaust as a “myth” used to impose the state of Israel on the Arab world.

Such anti-Semitic rantings — under any guise — set back the just struggle for a Palestinian state, for a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace.

Anti-Semitism is a ruling-class ideology that weakens and divides the working-class and people’s struggles. It strengthens the hand of reaction everywhere — in the Middle East and in the U.S. It helps the Israeli far right justify the occupation of Palestinian lands as “self defense.” It helps the U.S. ultra-right continue warmongering toward Iran and support for Israeli militarists. Iran’s reactionary leaders use it to pretend they are fighting U.S. and Israeli war machines, while they increase repression of democratic movements and fuel hatred.

Anti-Semitism in any form is vicious and divisive. It must be firmly repudiated.