national post Bush propaganda

One of Canada's two major national newspapers had a huge banner headline on May 19, 2006: "IRAN EYES BADGES FOR JEWS". Just below, there was a huge picture of two Jewish people in the Budapest Ghetto in 1944 wearing yellow badges. The story claimed a new law required Iranian Jews to wear yellow badges. The only problem was that the story was complete fiction. The next day the same journalist, Chris Wattie, published a "retraction" which seemed to blame Amir Taheri, their alleged source. The Simon Wiesenthal Center also cited Taheri as their source in their letter to Kofi Annan. Taheri has written many great books about Iran, but I remember in one of his articles he wrote that the US navy sank half the Iranian navy one day in 1984 (he should have written 1988) and he has a very unorthodox theory about Iranian hijab, that it was somehow invented by Imam Moussa Sadr. But I don't think anyone believes this except him.

It reminded me of the time when Michael Ledeen claimed that Ayatollah Montazeri had written a fatwa against suicide bombing. That story was completely false too, but no retraction has yet appeared in the National Review.

This story has served only one aim - it's helped associate the Iranian government and Nazi Germany in people's minds. There's a book by Norman Solomon called War Made Easy about the steps the US president needs to take when he wants to attack another country. And one of the steps is to say "This guy is worse than Hitler." Today, I saw a clear example of this propaganda in action.

UPDATE 20 May 2006

The story appeared in the New York Post today, unchanged! The banner headline is "FOURTH REICH" and one of the journalists is Andy Soltis. He is a chess grandmaster and a good chess author - but his fact-checking sucks. The article is available on the Benador Associates website and the original Canada Post article is there too.

I also noticed that the letter from Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to Kofi Annan was dated May 18, 2006 and referred to an upcoming article in the Friday National Post - I suppose this enabled the National Post to give another "source" for their article in a circular fashion. What a crock this has all turned out to be.

UPDATE 24 May 2006

Not only is the story false, it lacks any foundation. I have no idea where it came from. All the discussion on the bill was carried live on state radio and Reuters has an article debunking the story now also. I know the Tehran-based journalist who wrote the Reuters article - she is very hard-working and an impeccable source. Taheri "stands by" his story. Let's look at what he wrote again...

[A] law passed by the Islamic Majlis (parliament) on Monday [...] envisages separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public.

But the bill is available on the net as pointed out by Hoder and there is nothing like that in the bill as Taheri claimed. So his story is a lie based on rumors which is not backed up by even one Iranian source.

Finally a good reason to disbelieve everything in the original article is that Taheri mentions a minister named "Pourhardani" in his story and there is no minister with a name even close to that - the Culture Minister's name is Mohammad Hossein Saffar-Harandi. See Jim Henley "Taheri-ng it up" and Jim Henley "Taheri-ng it up again". (Actually, Taheri writes "Pourharandi" and "Pourhardani" in the original National Post article, not corrected at the Benador Associates website article yet. It was very sloppy work.)


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