BERLIN – German Iranians and German Jews on Sunday criticized ZDF (Second German
Television) for broadcasting without objection an interview in which Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust.
The interviewer was
also slammed for failing to raise the repression of Iran’s democracy
The Holocaust is “a lie of Israel” that allows the Jewish state
to hurt the Palestinians, Ahmadinejad said in the ZDF interview broadcasted last
Claus Kleber, a brand name journalist for ZDF, a tax-payer funded, public station, aired the 45-minute interview on the popular news channel.
Graumann, head of Germany’s 105,000 member Jewish community, told the Bild am
Sonntag paper that ZDF provided Ahmadinejad a platform to spread his
“I am very disappointed that a respected German journalist, and
on top of that, a public station, allowed the most brazen remarks from notorious
Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad to remain unchallenged,” Graumann
Cleber said he did not contradict Ahmadinejad because he did not
want to give him the opportunity to “fully spread his rubbish,” according to a
statement cited in the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel.
Holocaust denial is
illegal in Germany, but Iranian diplomats and politicians have denied the Shoah
at state-funded events in Germany.
German authorities chose not to purse
violations of the country’s Holocaust denial law in 2008 against senior Iranian
politician Mohammad Larijani for denying the Holocaust at a German Foreign
Ministry event in Berlin. A year later, his brother, Iranian parliament speaker
Ali Larijani, issued statements containing elements of Holocaust denial at the
annual Munich Security Conference, saying his country has “different
perspectives on the Holocaust.”
While Germany enforces its anti-Holocaust
denial law against neo-Nazis, the authorities fail to apply it to Iranian
German-Iranian scholar Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh told the mass
circulation Bild in Sunday’s article that the ZDF interview was
“Ahmadinejad was able to present himself as a quite friendly
head of state who presented Iran as the victim of an indiscriminate use of
Israeli state power. The interview was celebrated as a great success in Iran and
an unbelievable prize win for Ahmadinejad, and this was made possible by a
broadcast from our publicly funded television!” he said.
has written extensively about human-rights violations in Iran and
Islamic-animated anti-Semitism, is the author of a new book, The Islamist
Omid Nouripour, a Bundestag deputy for the Green Party
who was born in Tehran, told Bild that the interview represents a “moral
failure” of Claus Kleber.
“Kleber did not cover the bloody repression of
the protests against the regime in Iran. "That is a big journalistic mistake because the human rights question cannot be separated from the nuclear weapons questions,” Nouripour said. Iran's president ended the interview saying, "We very much like Germany. We like you very much [Mr. Kleber]."