Canada's National Post Retracts Report That Iranian Jews Will Be Forced to Wear Yellow Patches

Yossi Melman head
Yossi Melman
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Yossi Melman head
Yossi Melman

For a few hours on Friday, many around the world were ready to believe a report in the media that Iran had decided that Jews living there would be forced to wear a yellow strip of material on their clothing to denote their religion.

Leaders of international Jewish organizations were quick to respond, and likened the decision to the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany.

Yesterday, after it emerged that the report had been false, the affair of "the yellow patch that wasn't" left us with one lesson: The world is ready to believe anything when it comes to a country ruled by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The affair was sparked by a report Friday in Canada's National Post daily. According to the report, exiled Iranians had said that Jews in Iran (some 25,000 individuals) would be required to wear a yellow strip of material or yellow star on their clothing.

Members of other faiths, the report said, would also require color identification - red badges for Christians and blue strips of cloth for Zoroastrians.

As expected, the report was met with rage among human rights groups, and Jewish organizations in particular.

Canadian Jewish Congress chairman Bernie Farber saying he was "stunned" by the report on the Iranian law.

"We thought this had gone the way of the dodo bird, but clearly in Iran everything old and bad is new again," Farber said. "It's state-sponsored religious discrimination."

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the executive president of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, was also quick to respond, and called on the UN secretary general to exert pressure to get the law abolished.

For his part, Diaspora Museum chairman Leonid Nevzlin went as far as calling on Jews all around the world to don yellow patches in solidarity with the Jews of Iran.

The report and the reactions spread like wildfire, and was quick to hit Web sites in Israel too. Serious news publications such as The New York Times, on the other hand, chose to ignore the affair pending further examination.

The report emerged as false on Friday evening. Yes, the parliament in Tehran recently passed a law setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments" but it has never passed a decision to mark the country's Jewish citizens.

According to Iran expert Meir Javedanfar, Tehran has yet to fix the dress code for Muslims in the country, let alone for minority ethnic groups.

Several hours following its publication, the National Post retracted the article, and laid the blame for the story in the lap of veteran journalist and Iran analyst Amir Taheri.

In the retraction, the National Post quoted the spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, who said of the original report, "These kinds of slanderous accusations are part of a smear campaign against Iran by vested interests that need to be denounced at every step."

The representative of the Jewish community in Iran's parliament also rejected the report.

"[The Iranian president] has aroused a tense mood of hostility toward himself and toward Iran," Iran expert Javedanfar said.

"The Western world's readiness to accept without question this false accusation is an attempt to settle accounts with Ahmadinejad. It is as if the Western world was saying to him: Just as you are willing to be inaccurate when it comes to historical facts about the Holocaust, so we can pay you back in kind," Javedanfar continued.

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