Saturday, December 16, 2006

Reporting the Tehran non-conference

Much ado has been made about the "conference" in Iran that is filled with those who deny that the holocaust existed or occured. I don't think I need to say what I think of this meeting, because I think the same thing that any rational person would think and is thinking about this gathering-it is the perpetuation of a lie.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a goal beyond "free speech, which is what he purports to be promoting by holding this "World Without Zionism" conference. He wants the world academic and political community to question Israel's right to exist so that he can have an excuse to destroy Israel.

Reporting by the European press about the conference is not helping, because they, too are not checking facts. In a BBC report filed this week, Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison gave an in-depth report from a correspondent's perspective for the popular BBC World Service series From Our Own Correspondent. Before the widespread use of the internet, I was an avid fan of shortwave radio (and still like to fire up my old set from time to time when I can get it to work), and I listened to the BBC and FOOC quite regularly. When reading the transcript of Harrison's report, a glaring error stuck out that the foreign eye would glide by:

When it is so difficult for an American to get an Iranian visa, I cannot understand how the government here let in a man who has been described as perhaps America's best known racist. There's a photograph on the internet of a young David Duke wearing a swastika on his arm. He formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People, not to mention the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Not to nit-pick here, but David Duke was not the founder of the Klan. It is true that he founded the NAAWP, but when reporting about these sorts of people it is important to get all the facts correct. People have minds of their own and know what is blatantly wrong (such as holocaust denial), and fact should be distinguished from fiction.

The name of the conference is deceptive-"The World Without Zionism." People who read my writing regularly know that I have my share of problems with political Zionism. This conference is not about a world without Zionism-it seems to be about a world without Jews.

When covering something like this, the press should cover more of the speeches and papers given there-in this way the world can see just how absurd it is.



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