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Press Release

Iranian Leader Tones Down Anti-Semitism At U.N., But Breaks Bread With Louis Farrakhan

New York, NY, September 27, 2012 … Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while toning down his usual anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric in his annual speech to the United Nations General Assembly, reportedly did not hold back Tuesday evening when the Iranian government hosted what was described as a dinner for “leaders of Abrahamic religions.” Among those in attendance was the notorious anti-Semite and racist Louis Farrakhan, the 79-year-old leader of the Nation of Islam.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said it was outraged that two leading purveyors of anti-Semitism had shared a platform in New York City, calling it “yet another example of the extreme views of the Iranian government toward Jews and Israel and their attempt to promote those hateful views before an American audience by consorting with like-minded bigots.”

While Ahmadinejad avoided much of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel invective he has employed in past appearances before the UNGA, in his remarks on Wednesday he did use the opportunity to harshly denigrate Israel, including calling the Jewish state “uncivilized” and a “fake government.”

“The Iranian president may have held back in his speech to the United Nations, but when he was not speaking on the dais before world leaders Ahmadinejad once again gave voice to his virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “I’m sure the irony is lost on no one that the Iranian government felt it necessary to invite one of the foremost purveyors of anti-Semitism in the United States to have dinner with their president and foreign minister. Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime apparently will go to any extreme, even consorting with like-minded bigots, to endorse their warped worldview.”

During his speech at the dinner at the Warwick Hotel, Ahmadinejad reportedly claimed that the world’s popular opinion stands against Israel, and that, “If in every country today, and in America in particular, if they were to take a poll they would see that the majority of the people are opposed to the Zionist and would end support of the Zionist regime.”

The Iranian leader also said he believes “Zionists” were behind the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” that sparked a wave of violence and anti-American protests across the Muslim and Arab world. Giving new life to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory started after the film’s Coptic Christian producer falsely claimed in interviews that he was Jewish, the Iranian leader suggested the film was “perpetrated to stimulate and create opportunities to save the Zionists.”

The Iranian leader posted his remarks, along with a photo of him sitting behind a table with a smiling Louis Farrakhan and others, on his government web page.

Ahmadinejad previously met with Farrakhan as part of his 2010 visit to New York City, where he also met with members of the virulently anti-Semitic New Black Panther Party and well-known anti-Israel activists. Farrakhan, who is notorious for his virulently of anti-Semitic and racist speeches, is the longtime leader of the Nation of Islam, which has recently escalated a campaign promoting a range of propaganda demonizing Jews and claiming that Jews control Hollywood and the media and were responsible for the transatlantic slave trade.

While Ahmadinejad avoided much of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel invective he has employed in past appearances before the UNGA, in his remarks on Wednesday he did use the opportunity to refer to “the occupation of Palestine and imposition of a fake government” after the Second World War.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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