Israeli Holocaust Site Aims to Educate Iranians

In the small basement office below Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum, an unlikely army is busy battling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad.

Dana Porath leads a group of museum employees who are quietly countering his anti-Semitic speeches.

Ahmedinajad has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and repeatedly has called the Holocaust a myth.

"I'm afraid he is building up a wave of hatred," said Avner Shalev, the director of Yad Vashem.

So a few months ago, the museum launched a Web site designed specifically for the people of Iran. It is written entirely in Farsi and provides the history of the Holocaust, from the rise of Nazi power to the liberation of Auschwitz.

Its purpose is to reach the Iranian people through the Internet and give them information they might not be able to get in their country.

Museum officials say that so far, the site is working. In the first two weeks after its launch in January, more than 10,000 Iranians logged on.

Hundreds of e-mails flooded in. Almost all were positive and many thanked the museum for providing information about the Holocaust.

One e-mail read, "Today for the first time I read the Web site of Yad Vashem in Farsi and it was new to me. … History is distorted here and people have not much information about World War II and holocaust."

According to Porath, it's all proof that average Iranians do not support their president's propaganda. She was most impressed by the obvious effort many Iranians took when writing their e-mails in broken English.

Another e-mail read, "My eyes are full of tears when I see my little daughter and remember such a story. I am here to tell you: We do not think like Ahmadinejad."

The Web site has been so successful that the museum director has decided to expand the program and build another site, mainly in Arabic, for the rest of the Muslim world, informing them of one of history's darkest moments.

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