Holocaust deniers honoured by Ahmadinejad at Tehran conference on ‘Hollywoodism’
US and Israel: Good cop/bad cop on Iran
The US postures as good cop to the world, while Israel portrays the attack dog by threatening to bomb Iran.
Danny Schechter, Al Jazeera
New York, NY – Everyone who goes to the movies knows about a game police interrogators play called “Good Cop/Bad Cop”. The “good” cop tries to seduce the accused, promising he will go easy if there is co-operation.
The “bad” cop is more menacing, threatening and sometimes inflicts brutality to force admissions or a confession. The duo coordinates their approaches to give their victims a false sense that they can wriggle out of their problems with the bad by cooperating with the good.
Tel Aviv and Washington are playing this game with Iran.
Israel plays the attack dog, threatening to bomb what it calls an “existential threat”, as nuclear scientists are mysteriously murdered with Mossad efficiency, and a nuclear programme Iran insists is peaceful is sabotaged. Iran fights back with bellicose rhetoric and covert counter-attacks.
The US poses as good cop to the world, claiming that it is trying to rein in its ally but now says publicly that it fears it will fail, as if the tail is wagging the dog.
All of these tensions amid a basic policy agreement were on display when the powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC convened its annual pressure cooker of a conference in Washington to mobilise its supporters and intimidate any politicians who may not want to vote its way.
One of the opening acts at these ritualised events is a speech by the US president and leaders of both major political parties. Barack Obama, who has rarely seen an Israeli request for arms he didn’t support, was challenged to continue to pose as the good cop, even as he vowed to the right-wing crowd that “we have your back”.
Aware that US intelligence agencies have found no evidence that Iran has a bomb, he nevertheless needs to play the hawk by pledging that the US could and would bomb Iran, that it has taken no military option “off the table”.
At the same time, he had to assure world opinion, and especially the Arab world, that he was not totally in Israel’s pocket. He did that with a rhetorical slight of hand: the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama portrayed himself as reasonable, not vengeful, by criticising “too much loose talk of war”.
This is not because such war talk is wrong, but because it has, in the words of the article, “benefited the Iranian government by driving up the price of oil, on which Tehran depends to fund its nuclear programme. Now is not the time for ‘bluster'”, Obama told a gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“Now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built,” Obama said. “Now is the time to heed that timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: Speak softly. Carry a big stick.'”
As this calculated game of overt and downplayed threats inflames tensions, oil prices rise – with the US president correctly insisting he lacks the power to lower them. What he doesn’t admit is that the full-court press that Washington is orchestrating against Iran fosters the very uncertainty and fear that drive prices up.
Both Obama and Netanyahu are aiming their broadsides at different constituencies, using the media to heighten war fever. To prepare public opinion, the New York Times carried a pro-war op-ed by a former Israeli intelligence official warning that if the US says no to war, they will go ahead anyway.
There is now more speculation of a possible war in October, a prospect that the administration is keeping in its back pocket for now, depending on the president’s re-election prospects then.
So while pushing “diplomacy” with hard-edge rhetoric, the White House has escalated military pressure on Iran with new carrier groups and tougher financial sanctions.
Some peaceniks praised Obama’s hawk-dove good cop speech. For example: “Americans for Peace Now (APN) commends President Obama for an AIPAC speech that was staunchly pro-Israel, unabashedly pro-peace, and responsible yet sober on Iran.”
In Iran, meanwhile, there has been a public show of confidence in its Supreme Ruler – as shown in the recent parliamentary elections – and less worry about all the threats, perhaps because Iran has been lectured to by the West for 30 years. Recently, Tehran reached out to new potential allies halfway around the world in Latin America with a new Spanish-language TV channel and has targeted what it perceives as another major cultural enemy: Hollywood.
Perhaps Tehran knows that the world public is distracted by the economic crisis, and is already estranged from increasingly unpopular governments and slippery politicians.
So they found a new non-governmental “soft” target – a global symbol of what they perceive as US and pro-Israeli propaganda they have renamed “HollywoodISM”. This is pictured as a behemoth of visible media power they tie to Israel, known in Iran only as the “Zionist Regime”. (Not sure how they now explain the Oscar award won by the Iranian film “A Separation” last week).
I was at a major three-day conference in February on the issue. It mixed critical analysis of Hollywood films and “Hollywood values” – militarism, materialism, commercialism, violence and cultural sabotage of emerging nations – with a large dose of anti-Zionism with two strands:
An attack by international academics on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with US complicity, aided by an alleged indifference and/or support in US and world cinema;
Thinly veiled holocaust denial by a controversial French scholar who charges that there was no gas chamber at Auschwitz, along with a group of reinforcing supporters – including a French filmmaker who produced and showed a crude “comedy” on the Holocaust that many found deeply offensive.
Hollywood and human rights
I was among many in the conference – including a few other journalists and Iranians – who denounced the Holocaust deniers’ presence as divisive and insensitive and that will, if anything, harden hatred of Iran in the West, providing its enemies with another pretext for lashing out at the Islamic Republic.
One of three pro-Iran, pro-Palestinian Orthodox rabbis present, who lost family members in the Holocaust, passionately scorned their arguments and questioned their agenda in an emotional statement that moved many.
They, in turn, claimed to be just truth-seeking “revisionist” historians persecuted under counter-productive French anti-hate and Holocaust speech laws. Iran is one of the only countries that invites them to be heard in public forums.
Most of their interventions seemed focused on seeking self-serving validation for their arguments, with little interest in the more timely political issues about media and propaganda raised at the event. By discrediting the Holocaust, they seek to discredit Israel – as if their “scholarship” and footnotes will make it vanish.
Their leader, Robert Faurisson, apologised to the conference for not being able to show a new long documentary – about him!
What global media coverage there was of the event centred more on their publicity-seeking, not the appeals against new attacks on Iran that many fear could lead to a third world war.
Much depends on what Washington will or will not do:
Will the Obama Administration continue to publicly quarrel with Israel while mounting covert actions and military pressure on Iran? Or will it become an echo chamber for hysteria emanating from Tel Aviv for domestic political reasons?
Do the president’s political advisors believe a war on Iran will rally the country to his side and assure his reelection?
To my surprise, visuals from President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton popped up on the screen in the final session of the conference. They were seen denouncing human rights violations against protesters in Libya and Syria.
The images played over their audio, though, showed violent police attacks on Occupy protesters in the US. It made a point about human rights abuses in the US that is seldom made by US media outlets – which are, in some cases, aligned with Hollywood studios.
As an old blues song says: “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.”
News Disssector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.com. His new book is Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street (Coldtype.net) His radio show is heard Fridays on Progressive Radio Network (PRN.fm). Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Iranian ‘Conference on Hollywoodism and Cinema’ Honors Prominent French Holocaust Deniers
New Middle East News
On February 2, 2012, Tehran hosted the second “Conference on Hollywoodism and Cinema” as part of the 2012 Fajr International Film Festival. The conference was attended by 48 academics from the U.S., the U.K., France, Canada, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Italy, Egypt, Russia, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, and Palestine. As specified in the conference’s final statement, it focused on Hollywood’s purported role as “the most powerful tool of Zionism” in influencing world opinion according to the interests of the “American-Zionist military-industrial complex,” while emphasizing Iran’s “ability to be the center for producing elegant anti-Zionist films.” The conference addressed five key points: “Narration in Hollywood,” “[The] Role of Cinema in the World Awakening,” “‘The Role of Hollywoodism and Human Decadence,” “Portrait of [the] Future in Hollywood,” and “Hollywoodism and Zionism.” Among the issues discussed at the conference were “Hollywood and Holocaust,” “Palestine [i]n the Line of Fire,” “Hollywood and Apocalypse,” “Hollywood, Darwinism and Liberalism,” and “Hollywood’s Exploitation of World Events, Such as the Holocaust and 9/11, for the Sake of Zionist Policies.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, on February 2, 2012, claimed that the West and Zionism use Hollywood’s film industry as a means to maintain their world domination, delivered the opening speech for the event, in which he called for a new world order. He also presented an award for “courage, strength, and force” to French revisionist Robert Faurisson, who attended the conference along with several other prominent French Holocaust deniers. Also present was son of Hollywood director Oliver Stone, who converted to Shi’ite Islam during his visit to Tehran.
The conference was attended by a large French delegation comprising numerous Holocaust deniers, such as academic Marie Bruchet, representing Vincent Reynouard; academic Maria Poumier; historian Paul-Eric Blanrue; and filmmaker Beatrice Pignède, who presented her film Main basse sur la Mémoire (“Making Off with Remembrance”) about the French anti-revisionist Fabius-Gayssot Act of 1990.
French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, whose comedy has long centered around antisemitic, anti-Zionist, and revisionist themes, was also present. Recently, he directed a French-Iranian co-production, the film The Antisemite. The film’s trailer mocks scenes of Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz and the “irrefutable proof” of the Holocaust. The trailer was posted on MEMRI TV on February 16, 2012.
Earlier, in a teaser of L’Antisémite posted on Youtube December 12, 2011, the protagonist’s wife begs her husband not to be an antisemite, “for the children,” as “antisemitism is a disease.” Using an overly dramatic tone to lampoon the gravity attributed to antisemitism, the protagonist admits to his wife that he is, indeed, an antisemite, and says that since the Jews control the media, finance, and politics, there is no choice but to “exterminate them.”
Ahmadinejad Grants Holocaust Denier Robert Faurisson Award for “Courage”
As mentioned, President Ahmadinejad presented prominent French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson with an award at the conference and met with him in private. Faurisson’s latest paper, titled “Against Hollywoodism, Revisionism,” which was likely the basis of his lecture at the conference, explains “Hollywoodism’s part in creating the myth of ‘the Holocaust’”: “‘The Holocaust’ of the Jews became a sort of religion whose three main components are the extermination, the gas chambers, and the six million martyrs… After the war a whole propaganda developed around this holy trinity of ‘the Holocaust’, a whole industry of ‘the Holocaust’, a whole business: the ‘Shoah Business.’” For the article in full, see Faurisson’s Unofficial Blog. Following are comments posted on this blog regarding the international conference on Hollywoodism:
”On February 2, 2012, in tandem with the thirtieth International Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, President Ahmadinejad inaugurated an international conference on Hollywoodism… Amongst the participants at this conference were three anti-Zionist and anti-revisionist rabbis, respectively from Britain, the United States and Canada, along with some other Americans (one of them a Jewish intellectual) and a large French contingent…
“More than courageous, [Ahmadinejad’s] conduct is heroic. The man and his people, cruelly affected by the West’s blockade, aspire only to peace. It is absurd to claim that Iran would take the initiative of launching atomic bombs or any other bombs on the State of Israel, since inevitably those bombs would kill and maim as many Muslims and Christians as Jews…
“If there is nonetheless a bomb that Ahmadinejad will not hesitate to use, it is the one I have called ‘the poor man’s atomic bomb,’ the bomb of revisionism which, killing or maiming no one, will get the better of a huge imposture, – that of ‘the Holocaust’ or ‘Shoa’ – which, for its part, serves to justify ad infinitum new wars and new crusades. Too many minds in the Western world remain conditioned by the ‘Holocaust Industry’ and ‘Shoa-business’ but, thanks to revisionism, recovery is possible and, by the same token, peace could once again have some chance.”
Robert Faurisson was invited to the conference in part on account of a documentary film about him titled Un Homme (“A Man”) directed by Paul-Eric Blanrue, who was also invited and to whom tribute was also paid. In Blanrue’s one-and-a-half-hour film, Faurisson answers questions pertaining to his life. In a website dedicated to the film, it is available for download free of charge with English, German, Arabic, Italian, and Croatian dubs.
Paul-Eric Blanrue’s own blog, “Le clan des Vénitiens,”features news pertaining to his antisemitic activities. Blanrue has published a book titledSarkozy, Israël et les Juifs (“Sarkozy, Israel, and the Jews”), which was translated into Arabic and Farsi, in which he aims to show that Sarkozy, whom he depicts as unconditionally pro-Zionist, promoted Israeli interests at the expense of those of France.
Blanrue’s blog features numerous pictures of the “Conference on Hollywoodism and Zionism,” in which “anti-Zionist researchers from various countries gathered.” The main idea conveyed at the conference, according to Blanrue, was that “Hollywoodism” is the “Pentagon’s main weapon.”
N. Maruani is a research fellow at MEMRI [MEMRI – The Middle East Media Research Institute]; A. Savyon is director of the Iranian Media Project.