Nargol Aran in The Point:
In December 2005, in his fourth month as president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a myth. This was during an interview with Al-Alam, an Arabic-language channel broadcast from Tehran. The interview wasn’t an outlier. A year earlier, under new leadership, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the state-owned TV network that operates Al-Alam, broadcast a number of programs that described the Holocaust as a “made-up story,” a fiction or a myth. IRIB has always been hostile to what it calls the “Zionist Regime,” but prior to 2004 there had been no orchestrated campaign to cast the Holocaust as a lie.
Haroun Yashayaie is a past head of the Tehran Jewish Committee, an umbrella organization that oversees the administration of the city’s Jewish schools, kosher butcher shops and synagogues. A former film executive and newspaper editor, Yashayaie, who is 84, has always kept an eye on the media. When an IRIB channel labeled the Holocaust a fiction, he wrote an open letter in condemnation. When Ahmadinejad repeated the claim, he wrote another: “The Holocaust is, in fact, an open wound on the hands of Western civilization. … The Holocaust is not a myth in the same way that the massacre at Sabra and Shatila is not a myth.” After distributing the second letter to the media, Yashayaie personally delivered it to Ahmadinejad at a summit for religious minorities. The new president and his key cultural advisers were conflating criticisms of Israel with Holocaust denial, Yashayaie contended, and thereby whitewashing the crimes of fascism.