US Holocaust Museum Calls on Int’l Leaders, Media to Denounce Iran’s Anti-Semitism in Light of Rouhani’s UN Address

By Lauretta Brown | September 20, 2016 | 4:02pm EDT
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (AP Photo)

( – Human rights activist and Iranian Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari told at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Tuesday that the media has failed to “call out the Iranian government’s Holocaust denial.

Tad Stahnke, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Initiative on Holocaust Denial and Anti-Semitism, agreed with Bahari and emphasized that in light of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s upcoming UN General Assembly address in New York, international leaders should “denounce the Iranian state’s Holocaust distortion and denial and anti-Semitism.”

The museum held a briefing Tuesday on “the Iranian state's ongoing sponsorship of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.” asked Bahari and Stahnke what sort of response they would like to see from the U.S. government on Iran’s anti-Semitism.

“I think the media, the news media, they have to really talk about, they have to call out the Iranian government’s Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic comments,” Bahari replied. “For example, last year when Robin White from the New Yorker talked to Javad Zarif about the Holocaust cartoon exhibition, Minister Zarif denied that the Iranian government had to do anything with the Holocaust denial, and there was no follow up question unfortunately.

“There should be a follow up question, because the Holocaust cartoon competition was organized by an organization that is receiving money from the Iranian government, from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance,” argued Bahari, founder of IranWire.

“Also the Supreme Leader’s office congratulated, according to the organizers of the competition, he congratulated the competition’s organizers for doing such an amazing job and the Supreme Leader’s office never denied that,” he added. “So there is, this is an official, organized, institutionalized anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Iranian government that, unfortunately, my colleagues in the news media do not talk about.”

Bahari referenced an April 2016 New Yorker interview in which Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied government involvement in a cartoon festival soliciting entries denying the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Museum released a statement at the time questioning Zarif’s claim, citing sponsorship of the event by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and demanding that the Iranian government disavow the contest.

Stahnke referred to the museum’s recent statement calling upon “international leaders to denounce the Iranian state’s Holocaust distortion and denial and anti-Semitism.”

“We think that the general assembly is a good opportunity to do that,” Stahnke added. “Now here with the Iranian president and for all the reasons that Maziar was just saying, it’s important for international leaders to, you know, hold senior officials responsible and to ask questions.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be addressing the annual UN General Assembly opening Tuesday in New York.

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