A twisted "art" contest sponsored by an Iranian museum -- with the apparent blessing of the Islamic Republic's regime -- has cartoonists competing for prizes and prestige by making fun of the Holocaust.

The Second International Holocaust Cartoons Contest -- the first was held in 2006 -- will pay the winning artist $12,000, and the image will go on public display at the Palestine Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran. Organizers claim the contest's revival was brought on as a protest of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine that was attacked by Islamist killers last month because it published cartoons of Muhammad. 

“The 2nd International Holocaust Cartoons Contest has been organized in protest against French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s recent publication of the cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad,” reported the Tehran Times, a publication describing itself as “the voice of the Islamic Revolution.”

“This is obviously an Iranian way of spitting in the face of the western world,” Efraim Zuroff, internationally renowned Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

- Efraim Zuroff, Simon Wiesenthal Foundation

The contest was announced by the museum's art director, Masu Shojaei-Tabatabaii, who represented its joint organizers, Iran’s House of Cartoon, and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex.

The previous contest, in 2006, was won by a Moroccan entry showing an Israeli crane building a wall on which there was the image of the infamous Auschwitz death camp. The wall is seen blocking off the Dome of the Rock -- a holy Muslim site -- in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“The new Holocaust cartoon contest promoted by the Iranian authorities in response to caricatures published in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo shows once again how the current regime in Iran is thoroughly saturated with anti-Semitism,” Marisa Danson, spokesperson for the world famous Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, told FoxNews.com. 

“Although the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed in Charlie Hebdo has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews or the Holocaust, the Iranian regime insists on making a distorted and direct connection between the two. The manipulative, intentional distortion of the Holocaust desecrates the memory of both victims and survivors, and suggests strongly that the Iranian regime has yet to overcome the politics of hate.”

Coming so soon after last week's 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Iran’s decision to promote the competition appears to once again underline the Islamic Republic’s attitude toward international Jewry. The Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews, as well as millions more from the Roma, homosexual, communist, and Catholic communities, among others, were exterminated at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators in Europe, was the defining moment of the 20th century for Jewish people.

“This is obviously an Iranian way of spitting in the face of the Western world,” Efraim Zuroff, internationally renowned Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told FoxNews.com. “The Iranians are showing their disdain for Western values. Attitudes toward the Holocaust have become a litmus test, because the Holocaust is now acknowledged as the paradigm of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. It underscores the systematic effort by the Iranian regime to undermine, not only the uniqueness of the Holocaust, but even its historical legitimacy.”

The Iranian leadership, in particular all-powerful Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has regularly called for the State of Israel to be wiped from the face of the map and frequently expressed skepticism that the Holocaust even occurred, or was not at least grossly exaggerated.

In 2013, then new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani -- currently involved in the ongoing controversial nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and its allies -- made international headlines when he appeared to suggest in a CNN interview that he condemned the Holocaust. But Iran’s official FARS news agency was quick to step in and accuse the American broadcaster of inaccurately translating its president’s words. FARS suggested that Rouhani said, “The aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects, is a duty of the historians and researchers. I am not a history scholar.”

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter @paul_alster and visit his website: www.paulalster.com.