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Jewish Journal

Wiesenthal Center and L.A.‘s Iranian Jews help fight Holocaust denial propaganda

by Karmel Melamed

November 18, 2008 | 3:22 am

On November 10th more a dozen Southern California based Persian language news media outlets owned by Iranian Muslims gathered at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in West Los Angeles for the launching of a newly translated Persian language version of the book “Night” by Nobel Prize winning Jewish author Elie Wiesel.

His famous memoir that describes his imprisonment in several concentration camps during the Holocaust was translated and published under the auspices of the L.A.-based Iranian Jewish organization Graduate Society Foundation. The group published the book in Persian an effort to combat Holocaust denial campaign put out by Iran’s current fundamentalist Islamic regime.

“These days where the Iranian government is the only one in the world that has “Holocaust denial” as their stated official policy, it is significant that such a book is being presented for the Persian speaking world to read and understand first hand the truth about the horrors of Holocaust,’ said George Haroonian, a local Iranian activist involved with the event.

Timing for the release of the Persian language translation of “Night” was also significant as it was on the day after the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the first state-sponsored pogrom by the Nazis against Jews in Europe. Since 2004 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian government officials have launched an international propaganda war denying the Holocaust in an efforts to discredit the existence for the State of Israel.

During the past few years the Wiesenthal Center, with the help of local Iranian Jews, has been outreaching to Southern California based Iranian Muslim news media that broadcast programming into Iran via satellite in order to response to the Iranian governments’ continued attacks on the reality of the Holocaust.

“The vast majority of Iran’s population is under 30 years old and they lack the knowledge to counter the state’s campaign to deny the Nazi Genocide against the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center. “As the regime in Tehran continues to threaten Israel it is vital that the citizens of that country are armed with the truth.” Last year the center provided “10 facts about the Holocaust” in Persian language on their website for Iranian visitors and in 2006 welcomed members of the local Iranian media to tour the Museum of Tolerance in order to educate them about the Holocaust.

Kudos to the Wiesenthal Center for collaborating with local Iranian Jews to bring to light the anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial propaganda put out by Iran’s government.

Over the past three years I have covered a number of events where the Wiesenthal Center has reached out to local Iranian (non-Jews) and their media outlets to educate Persian language speakers about the real horrors of the Holocaust.

Perhaps the best explanation for the Iranian government’s decision to attack the validity of the Holocaust was made by Yigal Carmon, president of the Washington, D.C., Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which translates anti-Semitic and anti-American media reports from various Arab and Islamic countries, including Iran. In many of his speeches Carmon explains that Iran’s Holocaust revisionism is based on their ultimate goal to delegitimize Israel’s existence. For the Iranian regime’s officials the Holocaust lends moral justification to the creation and continued existence of the State of Israel. Now if the Iranian government could only deny the Holocaust and prove it was a mere “Jewish fabrication”, then they could more easily justify to their desires to eliminate the Jewish state of Israel.

The Iranian government’s organized propaganda war on the validity of the Holocaust has in some areas of the world backfired as INTELLIGENT and logical people have come to realize the true absurdity of the current leaders of Iran. Yet some in the Islamic world and elsewhere who are not familiar with the truth about the Shoah are being influenced by the Iranian government’s propaganda machine which broadcasts television programs in different languages and publishes articles in different languages to carry their message of hate to the four corners of the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi government’s propaganda minister would be quite proud of the current Iranian government’s media tactics in attacking the Jews and the Nazi atrocities!

Those working at the Wiesenthal Center said translations of “Night” will also be made available on their multi-lingual website “AskMusa.org”, which allows Muslims to learn about and ask questions via the internet from experts about Judaism and Jewish culture.

My article last year about the roots of Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial statements can be read here.

My 2006 article about Iranian Jews and Muslims joining together in Beverly Hills to acknowledge the tragedy of the Holocaust can be found here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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