The Mainstream Media, Ahmadinejad, and the Holocaust

by Sep 27, 2013Foreign Policy10 comments

Ever notice when the mainstream media says Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust, they never actually provide a quote of him doing so? Hmm...

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook:

Ever notice when the mainstream media says Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust, they never actually provide a quote of him doing so? Hmm…

That sparked a bit of discussion you can read there. But reading the New York Times just now, I came across a perfect example of what I mean. In this article from yesterday, the Times states:

Mr. Ahmadinejad used his podium at the General Assembly to criticize Israel, deny the Holocaust….

So click that link to find the quote where Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust at the UNGA. Oh, wait, there isn’t one. Instead, we find:

As he has done in previous speeches, Mr. Ahmadinejad raised questions about the Holocaust, blaming the West for using it as an excuse for unwavering support for Israel and for the oppression of the Palestinian people. “They threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust and Sept. 11 with sanctions and military action?” he said.

Do you see anywhere in there where Ahmadinejad said that the Holocaust never happened? Standard fare.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

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  1. Larisa

    “Is it not a reasonable possibility that some countries that had won the war made up this excuse (the Holocaust) to constantly embarrass the defeated people … to bar their progress,” in a letter to Merkel – video footage of an interview where he is asked whether he believes the Holocaust happened or not, and dodges the question

    ““Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps. Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned. Although we don’t accept this claim, if we suppose it is true… If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe – like in Germany, Austria or other countries – to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it.” … (I’m not sure what the “we don’t accept this claim” that Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them into concentration camps could mean, besides Holocaust denial, but feel free to spin this ;))

    In other words, maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t and it’s a Zionist conspiracy. Hmmm. At the very least, while one could charitably say he’s refusing to deny the possibility outright, he is certainly calling for Holocaust revisionism (and even held a conference for that purpose, which according to the BBC included attendees from the KKK).

    Out of curiosity, were you aware of these quotes? Also, do you agree with Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust may or may not have happened and both its existence and scale should be up for revision?

    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      1) You have inserted “the Holocuast” into this quote. But Ahmadinejad did not say that. What does his pronoun “this” refer to in the quote? We would have to see the context from which it was taken to know.

      2) In the CNN interview, he did not deny the Holocaust. He simply expressed his opinion that scholars should be free to conduct research into the subject and express their own views about it. He was making a statement about upholding freedom of speech.

      3) Please provide the source for this quote so we may verify it. If accurately quoted from the source, yes, it would seem to clearly be a denial that millions of Jews were cremated in concentration camps.

      4) No, I was not aware of those specific quotes. No, of course I do not believe that the Holocaust never happened.

      • Larisa

        I’m glad you don’t agree with the notion that it’s possible that it didn’t occur :)

        It was really easy to find these quotes, I think if I asked a high school student to research Ahmadinejad’s views on the veracity of the Holocaust they could have found quotes questioning it within a few minutes on Google, so I’m kinda wondering if you looked very hard before writing this post? I mean, it’s just that as a journalist you do have a professional responsibility to be very careful about these kind of things. A lot of people will read your work and because you are a journalist they will feel confident that you have taken all steps to ensure its accuracy.

        The Guardian includes the third quote ( in an article by Robert Tait, their Tehran correspondent at the time. Tait mentions that it was said to journalists at an international Islamic conference in Mecca in 2005 (same year as Tait’s article was written). I would consider the Guardian to be a credible source; you could get in touch with Tait if you wanted to know further details.

        Since you did say that that third quote would clearly seem to be a denial of the Holocaust, unless you’re concerned about Tait’s accuracy, I hope you might consider writing another post on your page that retracts the claim that Ahmadinejad has never denied the Holocaust, as I am concerned that readers of your page and journal may not be aware either. I would really appreciate it.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        It was really easy to find these quotes, I think if I asked a high school student to research Ahmadinejad’s views on the veracity of the Holocaust they could have found quotes questioning it within a few minutes on Google, so I’m kinda wondering if you looked very hard before writing this post?

        Given the fact that it was you or your source who inserted “the Holocaust” into the first quote, and given he didn’t deny the Holocaust at all in the second quote, you’ve rather illustrated my point.

        The third quote still requires verification. It is reported to have been made at a conference in Mecca. But the Guardian report was filed from Tehran. So what was the original source?

        The fact that the same article propagates the manufactured claim that he “called Israel to be ‘wiped off the map'” is enough reason to wonder about the veracity of the quote. The ADL, for example, provides the same quote but, importantly, with an ellipsis that is absent in the version provided by the Guardian — a second reason to wonder whether the sentence beginning “Although…” hasn’t been removed from its context by virtue of the words omitted and replaced with an ellipsis.

      • Larisa

        You could contact Tait if you’re concerned about the veracity of the quote. If the quote is accurate, it’s probably something you’d want to know ;)

        Your claim was that the mainstream media never provides a direct quote of his denying the Holocaust, which you’ve agreed that quote is, so the question is whether it is accurate or not, of course. Hopefully you’ll investigate this further since you’re a journalist and the one claiming that he hasn’t done so (or I could do the legwork and contact Tait, but I really think it would be better coming from you, since you’re a professional journalist and I’m nobody in particular :P) Would you like to contact him or shall I?

        The second quote didn’t directly deny the Holocaust but certainly presented it as an “if”. Which is rather like presenting the nakba as an “if” i.e. pretty darn offensive, since it’s suggesting the whole thing is a lie. I’m pretty sure if it was your own family members murdered en masse and not mine, you’d consider that close enough to a denial of the Holocaust to be rather uncomfortable, even if it’s not a direct denial of the “it never happened so STfU” variety, it is still refusing to acknowledge that it happened. You didn’t find his words unreasonable?

        I’ll try to see if I can find the full text of the letter to Merkel. If you are concerned about the veracity of Tait’s quote, please investigate it further as opposed to dismissing it out of hand ;)

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        It is not a choice between either spending the time required to investigate it further or “dismissing it out of hand”. I have certainly not done the latter, as anyone can already plainly see. I obviously already spent some time to do an initial inquiry into it. Yet to go any further would be a research project I do not have time for presently. So, yes, I encourage you to contact Tait yourself.

        This is important because it goes to the point of the article, the first two “examples” you yourself presented being themselves illustrative of the point I was making.

        Yes, I find Ahmadinejad’s smug refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust offensive and unreasonable. But this does not excuse the media’s regular habit of taking his comments out of context or fabricating them altogether.

      • Larisa

        You don’t have to be familiar with every quote he said about the Holocaust, of course, but before making a claim, I’d expect you to look thoroughly for examples to the contrary. Isn’t that part of your responsibility in your chosen career? :P I mean, I realize that this is your personal blog, but you are still writing as a journalist and you still wouldn’t want to mislead people.

        I’m a new mother and these comments are happening during baby nap times, so if you’re not interested in the original source of the third quote, I’ll leave it as that as at least you have condemned Ahmadinejad’s refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust to be offensive (which wasn’t quite clear from the content of this blog post so I was unsure of your stance).

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        I had read countless articles doing precisely as I described before making this post. You have managed to provide a solitary example that perhaps doesn’t fit the pattern (depending on this question of the ellipses and apparent omitted context). Congratulations. One out of three ain’t bad, eh? (Your other two examples being perfectly illustrative of the point I was making).

        It is quite ridiculous to suggest I’m “not interested in the original source of the third quote” given the fact that I just emphasized my interest in doing so.

        You seem to have a bad habit of falsely attributing views to others. (For anyone else reading, in a discussion about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine on another article, she claimed I “admitted” that I “consider expulsion to be perfectly acceptable as long as Jews are the ones being cleansed”, which was, of course, an absurd lie that she only withdrew after seeing that I had already condemned it). It is quite childish.

      • Larisa

        I agree that the claim re: Israel being “wiped off the map” is inaccurate and that this is cause for concern. Still bothered that you weren’t aware of this 2005 quote that clearly denies the Holocaust, as if it is accurate than its certainly a concern, and at the least I’d like to think before publishing an article on the subject (in which you say that no one quotes his direct denial) you would investigate any claims to the contrary :(

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Don’t let it bother you that I was not familiar with every single example of the matter in the media. I am not omniscient, as much as I am flattered that you evidently believe otherwise.

        I have already provided two strong reasons to question whether the key part of the quote has been removed from its context and replaced elsewhere in order to make it appear as though he said something he did not. The key here is to learn what the original source was, why the Guardian version leaves out the ellipses, and what text was removed between the one sentence and the other.

        As for your suggestion that I hadn’t bothered to investigate before posting this, I should be needless to say that I was simply making a comment about a regular pattern I had witnessed for a long time in the media. It should also be needless to say that this observation wasn’t the result of a research project and that not as much time and effort goes into making a simple blog post as, i.e., an academic paper. I try to be as accurate as I can with my posts, but it is nevertheless quite a stretch to try holding a quick observation made in a blog post — the kind of comment I would post to Facebook or Twitter if I could do it with few enough characters — to the standard of a work of scholarship.

        If you wish to read my adverb “never” as “rarely”, that is fine by me. My point would remain the same — and is bolstered by the first two examples you yourself presented, if not also the third.

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