Iran, Nazis and Dead Incubator Babies

Yesterday, the following was plastered on the front page of The National Post…

You can read a version of the Chris Wattie article, but Canada’s National Post story is now gone deade. Here are the first few paragraphs…

Iran eyes badges for Jews
Law would require non-Muslim insignia

Chris Wattie, National Post, Friday, May 19, 2006

Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country’s Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

“This is reminiscent of the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. “Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.”

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical “standard Islamic garments.”

The law, which must still be approved by Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran’s roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.

“There’s no reason to believe they won’t pass this,” said Rabbi Hier. “It will certainly pass unless there’s some sort of international outcry over this.”

With the Hussein trial not registering as more than an occasional blip on the cable news tickers, I guess we need our New and Improved Hitler, complete with WWII era photos.

If one actually READS the whole story, there’s NO confirmation from sources within Iran.

In fact, on the same day, also in Canada, Montreal’s 940 AM had an article that called the veracity of the National Post story into question, also not linked from their website, but copies are scattered everywhere.

The National Post is sending shockwaves across the country this morning with a report that Iran’s Parliament has passed a law requiring mandatory Holocaust style badges to identify Jews and Christians.

But independent reporter Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli Middle East expert who was born and raised in Tehran, says the report is false.

“It’s absolutely factually incorrect,” he told The New 940 Montreal.

“Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I’ve checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside.”

“The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn’t be stupid enough to do it.”

Political commentator and 940 Montreal host Beryl Waysman says the report is true, that the law was passed two years ago.

“Jews should wear yellow strips, Christians red strips, because according to the Iranian mullahs, if a Mulsim shakes hands with a non-Muslim he becomes unclean.”

In the course of the day, the original story has been propagated all over the rightwing parrotosphere, and the Montreal 940 story in the leftwing mimicosphere. This isn’t to say that there’s no good commentary on them, but given that there is NO real confirmation on it at all, does it warrant ALL the jibber jabber? Well, it was good enough for Stephen Harper to start barking.

Oh wait, the NY Post also has a new article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t clear anything up either.

Now back up a second. Read the article about Harper’s reaction… wow, here’s what some Muslim and Jewish leaders from Iran itself have to say…

But western journalists based in Iran told their Canadian colleagues that they were unaware of any such law.

And Iranian politicians – including a Jewish legislator in Tehran – were infuriated by the Post report, which they called false.

Politician Morris Motamed, one of about 25,000 Jews who live in Iran, called the report a slap in the face to his minority community.

“Such a plan has never been proposed or discussed in parliament,” Motamed told the Associated Press.

“Such news, which appeared abroad, is an insult to religious minorities here.”

Another Iranian legislator said the newspaper has distorted a bill that he presented to parliament, which calls for more conservative clothing for Muslims.

“It’s a sheer lie. The rumours about this are worthless,” Emad Afroogh said.

Afroogh’s bill seeks to make women dress more traditionally and avoid Western fashions. Minority religious labels have nothing to do with it, he said.

All this smells too much like the Iraqi Incubator Babies incident to me. If you don’t recall that sordid little PSYOP, well, Canada is standing in the place of England this time ’round. Here’s a taste…

I completely understood his feelings. Although I had no family of my own then, who could countenance such brutality? The news of the slaughter had come at a key moment in the deliberations about whether the US would invade Iraq. Those who watched the non-stop debates on TV saw that many of those who had previously wavered on the issue had been turned into warriors by this shocking incident.

Too bad it never happened. The babies in the incubator story is a classic example of how easy it is for the public and legislators to be mislead during moments of high tension. It’s also a vivid example of how the media can be manipulated if we do not keep our guards up.

The invented story eventually broke apart and was exposed. (I first saw it reported in December of 1992 on CBC-TV’s Fifth Estate – Canada’s “60 Minutes” – in a program called “Selling the War.” The show later won an international Emmy.) But it’s been 10 years since it happened, and we again find ourselves facing dramatic decisions about war. It is instructive to look back at what happened, in order that we do not find ourselves deceived again, by either side in the issue.

Though I’m reserving judgement, it sounds to me that we’ve got an Incubator Babies 2.0 on hand, so sit back and enjoy the PSYOP.

Can you hear the drums?