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Juan Cole: "Iranian President Rouhani acknowledges Holocaust as crime against Jewish people."

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff gives U.S. whatfor on NSA spying.

A handshake is just a handshake, unless it's not. Re: Rouhani and Obama do not encounter one another at the UN (oh, maybe in the men's room).

U.S.-Iran: A Tangled Web with a long history and the many factors in further tangling it. Lobelog

EVEN MORE: Apropos of Mr. Rouhani's remarks about the Jewish people and Nazis, the New York Times has this helpful story on what he said in Teheran and what he said in New York. It opens with an unusually feisty first paragraph (do they give Pulitzers for that?).

"TEHRAN — So there was Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency, once the dedicated defender of the Israel-bashing, Holocaust-denying former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, being singled out for praise on Thursday by The Wall Street Journal’s staunchly conservative, Israel-defending, Iran-distrusting editorial page."   New York Times Story

 

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The Fox News/GOP made a big deal about Irans president not shaking hands with Obama.. They never mentioned that the GOP Congress has dozens of Pols who wouldn't shake Obama hand if a camara/cell phone was around.

Juan Cole seeks to minimize the extent of anti-Semitism in Iran by pointing out that during WWII, Iran served as a conduit for Jews escaping Europe.  Assuming this is true, its hardly evidence of the situation in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  Its not just Holocaust denial by its immediate-past President, though that’s bad enough.  Its the sponsoring of Holocaust-denial seminars.  Its the wide dissemination of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous czarist secret police forgery of the late 19th century, purporting to set forth the worldwide conspiracy of the Jews to control the world.  These and other forms of anti-Semitism are the reasons the Jewish population of Iran, 80,000 strong in 1979, is now a mere 10,000.  Iran no longer allows entire Jewish families to have passports at the same time, thus insuring that those traveling abroad will return.  Even so, outside Israel, it is the largest population of Jews in that part of the world, since the flight of Jews or their expulsion from Arab countries has been even more dramatic.

 

Whatever the views of the ordinary Iranians, those who are the staunchest supporters of the Islamic government, i.e., those in charge, are often pronounced anti-Semites.

 

That is why its not surprising to find the NYT reporting today that current President Rouhani’s denial of Holocaust-denial has caused a firestorm in Iran, where Iranian media is reporting that he never did any such thing and is claiming that American media has distorted his words.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/world/middleeast/for-irans-leader-time-is-not-yet-right-for-meeting-obama.html?hp&_r=0.

 

The WSJ claims that the Iranian media’s translation of Rouhani’s words, which were spoken in his native tongue, is more accurate than the American translation.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303796404579097491626493058.html?mod=ITP_opinion_2.  I recall reading yesterday that the CNN translation was provided by a translator provided by the Iranians.

 

It seems that either the Iranians are providing Americans false translations of Rouhani’s words, or the Iranian leadership doesn’t want its population to know that Rouhani dared to admit the existence of the Holocaust and admit it was evil.  Imagine! Such a brouhaha about something as simple, truthful and humane as admitting that the Holocaust occurred and that it was evil.

 

Do you need to know anything else to understand the real state of affairs in Iran?

 

I wonder what Rouhani and Cole mean by the word "condemnable."

(And, as always, I wonder why anyone cares what those who deny, minimize, and/or justify the Holocaust pretend to think.)

Why would anyone want to minimize the efforts of Rouhani to overcome the denials of his predecessor? Why should the efforts of Iranians during WWII to save Jews be dismissed out of hand? Why should nascent and faltering efforts at peacemaking be so disturbing?

Would you like to see another Holocaust: World War III in the Middle East where Sunnis, Shias, Druse, Alawites, Christiand and Jews will decimate one another?

Gerelyn:  Whatever translation is used, the words seem carefully selected, perhaps to mean different things to different people.

 

As to whether it should matter to anybody, Jews (for obvious reasons) are going to be the most sensitive to such things.  You are correct that when espousers of Holocaust-denial are fringe people and have no power – such as white supremacists in the U.S. – it perhaps doesn’t warrant much attention.  They just aren't worth it.

 

But when it is a government that has called for the destruction of Israel, when it is the sponsor of Hezbollah, also sworn to Israel’s destruction, which sits on Israel’s northern border, and has tens of thousands of Iranian-provided rockets all pointed at Israel, it is justifiable to be concerned about just how anti-Semitic the Islamic Republic is.  It would be irrational not to pay attention or to merely dismiss it with scorn.

 

By the way, I don’t think this means the United States shouldn’t follow up on Rouhani’s initiative.  I think it should, by all means.

 

I think Bill Clinton got it just about right on Monday’s Newshour when he said of Iran, Israel and the U.S. :  “But I think they [Israel] haven't done that [bombed Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities] partly because they have tried to leave the door open to a settlement, but they want to take a hard line on it, because they have heard all these protestations before, "We have no intention of having nuclear weapons," and the program just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, to give them the capacity to build weapons.  So I think it's a nice cautionary reminder for all of us that you go into these things with your eyes wide open, and if there are commitments made, they have to be kept and verified. But I think, on balance, this is positive. This new president seems to want a rapprochement with the United States. And we just have to make sure that, if we do this, it's real.”

Agree, Jeff.  They can't be dismissed.  It's just so depressing to know there are still governments determined to complete the genocide.  And individuals who support them.

I see my links to the NYT and WSJ above are not operative.  I can't seem to get a link to the WSJ to work, perhaps because it is premium material.

But this should be an operative link to the NYT article.  Here's hoping anyway.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/26/world/middleeast/for-irans-leader-time-is-not-yet-right-for-meeting-obama.html?hpw

Margaret asks: "Why would anyone want to minimize the efforts of Rouhani to overcome the [Holocaust]denials of his predecessor?"  I don't know.  You'll have to ask Iran about that.  According to the NYT article -- which is not an opinion piece, but reportage -- "But a semiofficial Iranian news agency accused CNN of fabricating portions of Mr. Rouhani’s interview, saying he had not used the word Holocaust or characterized the Nazi mass murder as “reprehensible.” Mr. Rouhani spoke in Persian; officials at CNN said they used an interpreter provided by the Iranian government for the interview, which was conducted by Christiane Amanpour."

If you discover an answer, let me know.

Margaret asks: "Why should the efforts of Iranians during WWII to save Jews be dismissed out of hand?"  I didn't dismiss them out of hand.  I assumed for purpose of the discussion that they had occurred.  I did, however, point out that Iran's attitude toward Jews is very different now under the Islamic Republic than it was under the Iran of WWII.  If you won't acknowledge this, you simply aren't facing up to facts. 

Margaret asks: "Why should nascent and faltering efforts at peacemaking be so disturbing?"  They aren't disturbing to me.  I hope Iran is in good faith.  But a healthy scepticism is warranted until words are replaced by deeds.  I repeat what I said above:  "I think Bill Clinton got it just about right on Monday’s Newshour when he said of Iran, Israel and the U.S. :  'But I think they [Israel] haven't done that [bombed Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities] partly because they have tried to leave the door open to a settlement, but they want to take a hard line on it, because they have heard all these protestations before, "We have no intention of having nuclear weapons," and the program just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, to give them the capacity to build weapons.  So I think it's a nice cautionary reminder for all of us that you go into these things with your eyes wide open, and if there are commitments made, they have to be kept and verified. But I think, on balance, this is positive. This new president seems to want a rapprochement with the United States. And we just have to make sure that, if we do this, it's real.'

Margaret asks: "Would you like to see another Holocaust: World War III in the Middle East where Sunnis, Shias, Druse, Alawites, Christiand and Jews will decimate one another?"

No. I wouldn't. That's why I don't want to see Iran get a nuclear weapon and want to see Bashar Assad relinquish his chemical weapons.

Unfortunately, for Christians, Jews and perhaps the Druse, they may not have a choice in the matter as the Sunnis and Shiites draw the whole region into increasing barbarism.  The Jews are perhaps in the best position to avoid this fate, since, thank God, they have a country of their own in this beknighted region.  The Christians don't, and their population in the entire region is dramatically decreasing as they come under increasing attack.  Except in Israel where their population is increasing. 

Christiane Amanpour's father is Iranian.  She was born in London to an English mother but raised in Teheran.  Isn't it likely she understood what Rouhani said?

AO: It would seem so wouldn't it. But nothing's simple. Take a look at this NYTimes story.

 

Thanks for the article, Ms. S.  So the statement was ambiguous.  Hmm.  I saw some of the interview on CNN.  Rouhani's attitude (his body language) didn't seem a bit hostile.  So I continue to hope.

 

Part of the diplomatic trick here will be for both Obama and Rouhani to tame (or evade) their hardliners. Sounds like Rouhani was welcomed back by supporters and then attacked by protesters including someone who threw a shoe (I think I remember that gesture from Iraq!).

This morning on ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos confronted Iran’s foreign minister with the fact that the Ayatollah Khamenei’s own web site calls the Holocaust a myth.  The foreign minister, taken aback, said that it must be a mistranslation.  The problem with this is that the English translation is the government’s own.  It appears on Khamenei’s own web site, and the claim that it is a myth appears, not once, but numerous times, including as late as September 2012.  The foreign minister said he would speak to the Ayatollah about it.

 

Meanwhile, the FARS new agency of Iran – which the NYT calls the “semi-official” news agency of the Iranian government and NBC Nightly News calls the “official” new agency – denies that President Rouhani ever mentioned the Holocaust by name or ever called it reprehensible.

 

What is obvious is that the Iranian government is still telling the Iranian people that the Holocaust is a myth and does not want them to know that President Rouhani is saying something else in the United States.

 

Do the Iranians really believe this anti-Semitic nonsense or do they just want to insult Jews?  Probably some of both.  Probably, the masses who support the government actually believe it, and the governing elite knows its a lie, but want to spit on the Jewish people.

 

According to the Ayatollah, “Western countries allow no freedom of expression, which they claim to advocate, with regard to the myth of the massacre of Jews known as the holocaust, and nobody in the West enjoys the freedom of expression to deny it or raise doubts about it.”  http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=bayanat&id=3500

 

With respect to the numerous iterations of this position, go to the site and search for “holocaust” and see for yourself.

 

Well okay Jeff. Israel can bomb Iran; that'll take care of all those Holocaust deniers.

Margaret: If Iran is indeed beginning an initiative to forego its nuclear weapon’s program and seek a rapprochement with the West– as you seem to believe, and as I hope will be the case – it will be because of the sanctions-backed-by-the credible-threat-of-force regime, and not because of anything advocated by the likes of Juan Cole or Stephen Walt.

 

But my main reaction to your last comment is how deeply disappointing (and I am using a polite word here) it is to see that when I point out the factually truthful information that the Iranian government and the Supreme Leader, himself, are espousing anti-Semitic beliefs that you will find on the worst white supremacist or neo-Nazi sites in the U.S., your reaction is to ... attack and sneer at Israel.  When I would have thought the normal, descent reaction would have been to criticize Iran.

 

I’m glad I didn’t mention the Supreme Leader’s other remarks – also duplicating beliefs of white supremacists and neo-Nazis -- that the government of the United States and other Western nations are controlled by Zionists.  Then, you would have really let Israel have it.

No Jeff, I do not sneer at Israel, nor do I attack it. Israel will act in it own best interests and the interests of its citizens, and not because the Supreme Leader denies the Holocaust, or denies his denial. Is President Rouhani sincere? Is President Obama? Is President Putin? We'll see.

I am sneering at you and your never ending hectoring on everything I post about U.S. policies in the ME. Am I too optimistic about this turn in events? Will peace be better than war? We'll see.  

Margaret:  You raised the issue in your original post of Iran's denial of Holocaust denial. When I point out factually that back home in Iran, the government and the Supreme Leader are still engaged in Holocaust denial, you call it hectoring.  There wasn't one word of hectoring in my comment of 12:41 pm today.  If you claim there was, then quote it back to me.

Disagreeing with you is not hectoring.  Or if it is, then every time you disagree with me, you are also guilty of hectoring.