Iranian officials know to walk a fine line when the world asks about the Holocaust.
Yes, there were Nazi atrocities in World War II, and, yes, we should “feel sympathy for all those who have lost their lives or lost a family or friend in that war no matter whether they are Jews, Christians or Muslims,” as Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm, editor-in-chief of the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency English, gently wrote in a bylined editorial for the state news agency this past weekend.
But the “H” word, and all of its implications, specifically, that six million Jews were killed by Nazi firing squads and Nazi death camps, shall remain unspoken, which is why Fars was aghast to learn via CNN that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani had recognized the Holocaust to the world.
From Tehran’s point of view, either Rouhani had just broken the unwritten code, which he had observed in an interview previously broadcast on NBC News last week, or there had been a mistake, in this case, if not from the CNN editorial team, from the interview translator, apparently hired by the Iranian delegation, rather than the U.S. news network.
The Algemeiner, which reviews Iranian, along with Egyptian, Turkish, Jordanian and Russian, press daily for news that impacts Israel, was the first Western media outlet to report the objection from Fars and publish their re-translation of Rouhani’s comments in Persian and English.
Fars’ Khoshcheshm wasn’t satisfied with CNN shifting the blame to the translator, as CNN’s host for the interview Christiane Amanpour speaks Persian.
In his editorial, headlined “Is Misleading the Public a Duty of CNN?”, he berates CNN for “still trying to acquit themselves of any shortcoming” and “now they insist on insulting the public understanding, unless we come to believe that CNN and its host are so lost that they are not acquainted with professional courtesy, honesty, trustworthiness, truthfulness, and professionalism.” He asks: “Do they not owe an apology to the public opinion, and not just to the people of Iran, but to the Americans and the rest of the world, specially the tens of the world media outlets that misinformed their nations just on the basis of a wrong broadcast?”
Of the core question, did Rouhani say the H word or not, the media consensus, as now reported by Fars, is that he did not:
When WSJ Assistant Book Editor Sohrab Ahmari is asked to compare the translations of FNA and CNN to see if there is any ground for complaint, Ahmari (an Iranian-American) says in a tweeted message on Wednesday:
“Fars is right! I read/listened to #Rouhani in Pers. He condemns Nazi crimes but says Shoah “for historians to verify”
@SohrabAhmari Could you hear Rouhani’s answer behind the voiceover? If so, is Fars’s transcription accurate? And their translation?
@GileadIni Fars News translation IS accurate. I’m literally at my wits end re how far some journos will go to sell this moderate narrative.
@SohrabAhmari Thanks. The transcription, too? Fars’ Persian script matches the audio?