Sunday, June 04, 2006


What's Hebrew for Hoax?

The Jewish Week here in New York ran a fascinating story last week unraveling the Iranian Jewish badge hoax, which is well worth reading despite my tardiness in posting it.

The National Post in Canada started an international firestorm last month by reporting, via a column by Iranian ex-pat Amir Taheri, that Iran's parliament had passed a national dress code that would require Jews to wear a special yellow-striped insignia (Christians would have to wear red). Here's the full text of the Taheri column as printed in the New York Post.

After the news rocketed around the world and generated an understandable outrage among Jewish groups, Rush Limbaugh and other radio talkers, and most of our political establishment, it was soon revealed that no such mandate had ever been adopted.

How did this happen? According to the Jewish Week, in large part because it was so believable:

"Looking back, one can see that with the confrontation between Iran and the Bush administration escalating over the nuclear issue, frequent outrageous statements against Israel and Jews issued by Iran's president, and the daily drumbeat in the media shaping public opinion as tensions build, the setting was ripe for running with a story that seemed to confirm an Iranian government following a Nazi script."

The article touches on other familiar elements of recent media scandals past -- sloppy reporting, careless editing, and a shady public relatons firm with an ideological agenda (Benador Associates).

But the surprising part of the story was the role of the highly-regarded Simon Wiesenthal Center in advancing the hoax. The Jewish Week reports that Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate dean at the Center, supplied a crucial confirmation to the National Post that led the paper to go with the Taheri story.

Cooper would not directly address the Post's contention that he confirmed the story. And Taheri refused to comment about getting the story completely wrong. One has to wonder if/when the mainstream media will pick up this thread and deliver some accountability for this colossal and consequential screw-up.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?