(JTA) — The European Union regrets the attendance at an event it sponsored of an anti-Zionist rabbi who has been accused of Holocaust denial, the parliament spokeswoman has said.
“It is regrettable that this has led to a situation which has caused offense,” E.U. spokeswoman Marjory van den Broeke told JTA Thursday in reference to the attendance of Rabbi Moshe Aryeh Friedman at a conference on Arab-European dialogue held last month at the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels.
In 2006, Friedman, who lives in Antwerp, attended a conference in Tehran which featured Holocaust deniers and which was organized by then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to The Guardian, Friedman said there that only one million Jews died in the Holocaust. The Bloomberg news agency reported that he had said the Holocaust was “successful fiction.”
Friedman told JTA both reports were “false and fake.”
Rabbi Menachem Margolin of the European Jewish Association, said in a statement Thursday: “It is revolting that the European Parliament, which was founded upon the ruins of Holocaust, is using taxpayers’ money to fund an event attended by a person who denies the Holocaust.”
According to van den Broeke, Friedman was invited to the Nov. 13 conference titled ”Arab-European Dialogue in the 21st Century: Towards a Common Vision” by the event’s organizers, the Kuwait-based Al Babtain Foundation. His photo was featured on an event booklet bearing the European Parliament logo.
“From resolutions adopted in the past by the European Parliament, it will be clear that the views expressed by Mr. Friedman are not shared by the Parliament,” she wrote. Friedman, she added, “was not contacted or invited by any European Parliament official but came as a representative of the Jewish orthodox community in Austria and in Belgium.”
Margolin said “those communities have condemned and excommunicated Friedman. We expect the parliament to take seriously events that is funds. We will gladly help prevent such unfortunate errors in the future.”