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Friday, October 05, 2007

Iran changing tactics on the Holocaust?

It's Ramadamadan, the month during which Muslims fast every day from dawn to dusk. The fast ends with the iftar, the fast-breaking meal, and families in Muslim countries gather around their television sets to watch the 'best' programming of the year.

In Iran, families this year have been watching a series called "Zero Degree Orbit." It's based upon a romance between an Iranian Muslim man, who was attached to the Iranian embassy in Paris, and a French Jewish woman whose family he helps escape to Iran from the Holocaust. Until now, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust, but this is apparently a change of tactics and at least some of the media has been taken in by it. Here's al-AP for example (Hat Tip: Baruch Who?)
The show's appearance now may reflect an attempt by Iran's leadership to moderate its image as anti-Semitic and to underline a distinction that Iranian officials often make — that their conflict is with Israel, not with the Jewish people.

About 25,000 Jews live in Iran, the largest Jewish community in the Middle East after Israel. They have one representative in parliament, which is run mostly by Islamic clerics.

The series could not have aired without being condoned by Iran's clerical leadership. The state broadcaster is under the control of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, who has final say in all matters inside Iran.

Moderate conservatives have been gaining ground in Iran, where there is increasing discontent with the ruling hardliners over rising tensions with the West, a worsening economy and price hikes in basic commodities.

The government even allowed the series to break another taboo in Iran: For the first time, many actresses appear without the state-mandated Islamic dress code. The producers wanted to realistically portray 1940s Paris, and thus avoided the headscarves and head-to-foot robes that all women must normally wear on Iranian TV.


But the series has won support even from hardliners. Some argue that it links the Holocaust with Israel's creation, thus boosting an argument by Ahmadinejad that if the Nazi killing of Jews did take place, the Palestinians who then lived in Palestine should not have had to pay the price for it by the creation of Israel after the war.

"The series differentiates between Jews and Zionism. The ground for forming Israel is prepared when Hitler's army puts pressure on activist Jews. In this sense, it considers Nazism parallel to Zionism," the hard-line newspaper Keyhan said.

However, if the series does aim to make that point, it has not done so overtly.
As this MEMRI clip from Fox News shows, the movie doesn't really signify a change in Iran's views on the Holocaust.

As you will see in this clip, the show blames Jews for the Holocaust, leading viewers to believe that Jews ('Zionists') incited the Nazis to murder Jews in order to intimidate the remaining Jews to emigrate from Europe to Israel. For example, in this clip, a 'Jewish' man shot a rabbi to intimidate other Jews into believing that they too will be murdered if they do not emigrate to Israel:

As the Fox report states, it is true that many Jews were saved from the Holocaust by Iranian diplomats who sent them to Tehran. But of course, that was under the Shah, and not under the Islamists.

Ahmadinejad may have finally come to understand that the rest of the world looks on his Holocaust denial as a joke. So instead, he's trying to blame the 'Zionists' for the Holocaust as if the 'Zionists' are not Jews. Sounds like something straight out of Neturei Karta's book.


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