Saturday, May 26, 2007

Al Hurra whitewashes Iran's Holocaust denial confernce and NPR's "On the Media" strange treatment thereof

A few weeks ago I promised to comment further on Al Hurra, the American funded Arabic language station, coverage of the Holocaust denial conference in Iran.

The station was skewered on the pages of the Wall Street Journal by Joel Mowbray for its coverage of the conference.

The station treated the Holocaust as having two sides and that this was a forum to allow historians to air views that are otherwise suppressed.

Mowbray noted that the Al Hurra reporter covering the conference provided one of the organizers an opportunity to say:
"If we actually conclude with our experts through this meeting that the Holocaust is a real incident we will at that time admit its presence."
[Mowbray notes: "Transcript provided by a fluent Arabic-speaking U.S. government employee." Amazingly, Al Hurra does not provide transcripts of its programs.]

This is SOP for deniers, who attempt to show their open mindedness and to present themselves as simply engaged in trying to find out the truth.

Al Hurra also broadcast the remarks of Robert Faurisson:
"Gas chambers and mass killings of the Jews, in the way that it is pretended (by the Jews), is completely untrue, and an historical lie."
Al Hurra called those who are not deniers as "Holocaust supporters," again reinforcing the "two sides" of the issue view.

The reporter went on to say that those people at the conference who were not deniers "didn't enforce their statements with scientific evidence."

This sounds like it could have come straight from David Irving and his ilk.
But Al Hurra did not stop there. Six weeks later it broadcast a story on the Neturei Karta so-called rabbis who attended. Rather than acknowledge that they were a fringe group with a membership of no more than a few thousand, Al Hurra said they had a million members and, according to Mowbray, depicted them as mainstream Modern Orthodox.

NPR's On the Media compounds the problem
Now Mark Lynch of George Washington, a frequent guest on NPR's On the Media and someone who admits on his blog [Abu Aardvark] to be roiled about the criticism of Al Hurra [but seems to offer few specifics about its coverage of the Iranian conference], dismissed the coverage as "appear[ing] to be a mistake." That's it.

A mistake? It was many things but mistake does not sound to me like one of them. The best thing that can be said is that it was a lost opportunity to educate its Arab speaking audience [which apparently is minuscule] about the Holocaust denial movement.

It was a prime opportunity to talk about the fact that the Holocaust has the dubious distinction of being the best documented genocide in the world. Sadly, it was a lost opportunity.

And it was a lost opportunity for NPR to make the point about the spread of Holocaust denial in the Arab/Muslim world. This was far more than a mistake. It demonstrated a certain attitude in the Arab/Muslim world that is deeply troubling.

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