TEHRAN DIARY:
Commentary And Critique

 December 10, 2006 was not my ideal Sunday; it didn’t take me long to realise why I hadn’t travelled abroad for nearly fifteen years. Check in at the flight desk up to four hours early, sit around like lemons, queue up like cattle, and since the latest terror alerts all the extra security, even down to removing your shoes at the gate. Then there is duty-free, what a con. I found one shop selling leather belts - or perhaps they were Yeti hide - for a hundred and twenty-eight quid. It stands to reason that anyone who can afford to pay that price for a belt doesn’t need to shop duty-free. Coke at one pound tenpence a bottle, and when finally I found it, Internet access was six quid an hour. I had ten minutes.

About a quarter past one I heard my name called, come to Gate 35 said the voice; thinking it may be someone from the Iranian Government I went over to the gate; it was an extremely long walk, and when I got there it was a flight to Vancouver which had either already taken off or was just about to. “We’ve got our Mr Baron”, I was told. Unreal.

I made an impulse buy at the airport, Richard Dawkins’ new book. There were miniature copies of The Art Of War on sale, and I nearly bought one for my solicitor - who is an amateur historian. I looked at the price, and thought better of it.

The flight was largely uneventful; I had a window seat; this was the first time I’d ever travelled on a jumbo jet, and it was not a bad experience, although I’ve never liked flying. Planes may in truth crash very infrequently, but if a bird that size goes down it is surely curtains for all on board.

When we were getting off the plane at Tehran I saw a bloke who was the double of Afif Safieh, the Palestine delegate. He noticed me staring at him, and when I asked him if he were an Iranian he replied in perfect English that of course he was. I had my doubts; he was a bit bulkier than Safieh, but the real giveaway was his voice. Safieh has a very distinctive voice; this guy’s was similar, but not that similar. He said his name was Hasan or something. In retrospect I thought it unlikely the PLO (or whatever they call themselves nowadays) would attend such a conference; they are too concerned with courting respectability now.

Tehran Airport was murder, but finally I got out. Fortunately it is rather a small airport, unlike Heathrow, and as I left the building I was more than pleased to see someone holding up a sign with my name on it, especially as it had been snowing. “That’s me!” I said.

“Mr Baron,” replied my chaperone, “Welcome to Iran.”

He was a young bloke with long hair named Afshin Davoodi. He spoke passable but not brilliant English, though it was certainly better than my Farsi! Hiring a taxi from the airport rank office, we sped off, but shortly his mobile phone rang and he told the driver to turn around. When we returned we picked up an elderly, white-bearded Orthodox Jew. I recognised him from the airport and indeed from the flight.

As we drove off again I uttered two words: “Neturei Karta?”

It wasn’t really a question. He was indeed; Rabbi Ahron Cohen to be precise.

I asked him if he knew Rabbi Yosef Goldstein suspecting that in the small insular world of the ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists he would. He confirmed that he knew the Rabbi well, and I told him about our collaboration, and about my collaboration with another Rabbi Cohen. When he let on that he was from Manchester I asked him if he knew Judah Gottesman. Yes, he replied, he’s a shochet. The taxi driver not only spoke English - as does half the Universe - but he knew Manchester. Sadly, so do I.

As we sped on to our destination I said to the Rabbi that we could be driving along the motorway in England (but for the bi-lingual road signs). Wait until the morning, he said, they all drive like maniacs here. They do indeed, the roads are crowded, and I wonder there aren’t crashes every mile or so.

The taxi driver had the radio on, or more likely a CD, and I soon recognised a live acoustic version of a well-known Eagles song. There was something surreal about travelling to Iran for a Holocaust Revisionist conference, and the second person I meet is an Orthodox Rabbi, and here we are being driven along at breakneck speed by an English-speaking Manchester-wise taxi driver to the strains of Hotel California.

Although I wasn’t suffering from jet lag, I’d had a long day, having been up very early, and when we got to the hotel I wanted to crash out. I was surprised Tehran was three and a half hours ahead of London; I didn’t realise there were half hour time zones, although I should have, having seen rows of clocks showing different world times in sundry Internet cafés.

Davoodi said the bus would call for us at 8am, which meant that I’d get two hours sleep at best. The guy who showed us to our rooms said he’d call me. I asked for a 7.15 shout. I didn’t get to bed until after 5am after an en suite bath in my $117 a night room.

I was up in good time and had a wash, dressed then was down in the hall before eight. As I was waiting for the bus I saw the porter again. What happened to my alarm call, I said?

“Cold”, he replied.

The Hell he didn’t understand.

When I went through all that kerfuffle to get my Visa issued I realised why Iranians are teetotal. They couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery; how the fuck can these people be a threat to world peace, I thought? I thanked my atheist God that Davoodi had turned up at the airport. At least they’d got that right. The same couldn’t be said for my return flight on Thursday morning, and it was only by sheer luck that my suitcase and I left in the same taxi.

To be scrupulously fair, I had told the Iranian authorities I had all sorts of worries, for example would there be a problem with my prescription painkillers? No, I was told. I was also told there would be no problems with my Visa - once it was issued. And they told me I would be met at the airport, although I wasn’t quite sure if this would be Heathrow or Tehran. They were as good as their word on these matters, which is something that can’t always be said of our own government on any matter!

Before we left the hotel for the first day of the conference I thought I’d better change some of my sterling into local currency. I didn’t even know what the currency was, and was surprised when after handing over fifty quid at the desk I was given an absolutely massive wad of high denomination notes. I say high denomination, but on the Wednesday I did the only bit of shopping for which I had time or opportunity: five postcards and stamps. “Eighty thousand rials” said the young female assistance in the hotel gift shop. The Arab housewife I met at Tehran Airport the following day referred to the currency as “toilet paper”. At any rate, fifty quids’ worth was far too much to fit in my wallet.

Iran’s “toilet paper” currency; a note like this might just buy you a cup of coffee.

Waiting for the bus on the first day I recognised Michèle Renouf; she must have had half a dozen face lifts because she looks at least twenty years younger than her actual age, but I’d have recognised her anywhere. When I got on the bus she asked me who I was. Alexander Baron, I told her. She tried to be nice but I wasn’t really in the mood. For one thing I was still dog-tired, for another I’d had no breakfast, although at the conference there was no shortage of cakes and things at the mid-morning break.

The Neturei Karta were wearing badges which read “A Jew Not A Zionist”. There were a few of them here; I like these people, to me they are the REAL Jews, although in some ways they go too far. Whereas Organised Jewry regard anti-Semitism (real and imagined) as a big club with which to batter the goyim over the head, the Neturei Karta interpret all Jewish suffering as a punishment from God for straying from the path of righteousness. That suffering appears to include the Holocaust, in which they believe more or less uncritically except that they believe also - with more than a little justification - that the Zionist leadership collaborated with rather than opposed the Nazis.

The first day of the conference attracted mass media coverage. We were all pleased with this, even though we realised that 99% of such coverage (by the non-Islamic world media) would be grotesquely slanted. One thing I was not pleased with though was the time allotted to present our papers. With typical Iranian inefficiency no one had told me that we would have twenty minutes each at most. My speeches tend to be on the long side because I like to cover all the angles, and there was no way I could compress it all into so short a span. The only thing to do was to edit it down, which I did that night in my hotel room, printing out a copy in the hotel business centre.

On the plane I had written or begun writing a short speech in praise of the President. So I’m a sycophant, why should I give a flying fuck what any anti-Revisionist creep says or thinks about me? Ahmadinejad has done something which no statesman in modern history has done, he has told Organised Jewry where to get off. He is a great man, and one day the entire world will recognise him as such. So why not say it now?

Unfortunately I was not able to prefix my paper with this little eulogy, but I was able to deliver a somewhat curtailed version to his face when we met him after the end of the conference.

That night back in my hotel room after reading the edited version of my paper - which was still too long (but delivered thus) - I crashed out about 00.30. My neck was murder; I got up, threw on some clothes, rinsed my face, and went downstairs in search of a glass of orange juice with which to chase down my Co-Codamol. Davoodi had booked me into Room 801; as I waited for the elevator my eyes fell on the open balcony door, and for the first time I realised its terrible significance. Obviously I knew I was on the 8th floor, but it hadn’t sunken in when I arrived in the small hours of Monday morning; I had been too tired for anything much to register.

Less than five months earlier, 19 year old Jessie Gilbert had leapt from her 8th floor hotel room window in the Czech Republic where she had been playing in a chess tournament. I hadn’t seen Jessie for over four years, but since hearing the news of her tragic death I’d hardly been able to think of anything else.

As the murky background to her suicide emerged I realised that if I hadn’t given up competitive chess the future would have been very different. I would have learned of her previous attempts, and would have met with her and talked her out of doing anything stupid. I thought of my own suicide attempt when I was her age, an event which had it succeeded the world would not have noticed. Now it seemed that Fate was playing yet another dirty trick on me, but in the same instant it seemed to be telling me something. While I had been unaware of her emotional torment, and so unable to save Jessie, my own life had not after all been lived in vain.

Not only was I attending what will surely go down in history as a momentous gathering, but I had been chosen to play a small but perhaps crucial part in stopping the drive to war which the hawks in the Bush Administration had been leading us towards since the September 11 atrocities. This was surely the only reason that I had eked out fifty for the most part wretched years on this accurséd planet, and why my miserable life had been spared in preference to hers. Suddenly, all the years of suffering, loneliness, ridicule, and the near constant physical pain I had endured over the past two decades, all these seemed as nothing.

The check out card for my hotel room provided yet another revealed truth for this lifelong professed atheist.

When finally the elevator came I went down to the bar, but everywhere was closed, and I was offered only a glass of water. Eventually one of the night staff told me to go back to my room and dial 44 for room service. When I got back to the 8th I walked out onto the balcony and suppressed a shudder. There were a few scrawny trees down below, but none of them were close enough to land in if I threw myself off. Jessie had landed in a tree, and the thought did cross my mind, but it took only a moment’s reflection for me to realise I was not being lured to my death by the Sirens, but being given a salutary warning. Later today I had a speech to make, and after that I still had work to do. I went back to my room, and shortly a young waiter brought me a glass of orange juice for my tablets.

If I were disappointed with having to curtail my speech severely, I was even more disappointed at being shunted off to a side room to deliver it in front of a relatively small audience. As I was making it, Rabbi Cohen got up and walked out. I hoped it wasn’t something I’d said, and for once I was right. He told me later that he had been called away. When I pointed out to him the cookiness of some of the speakers (in particular the “Hitler was nice to the Jews” claim that had appeared in the hastily published Conference Abstracts) he said that some people went from one extreme to the other, but that although you could argue about the numbers and the methods used, you couldn’t argue about the genocide that had occurred under Hitler. One of the more ludicrous claims that was being touted at this conference was that Hitler was basically a philo-Semite. He may well have been in his youth, this is evident from a reading of Mein Kampf, but in power? Come on. Lest the reader thinks I jest, here is a page from the Conference Abstracts (below the front cover).

The Conference Abstracts, front cover.

Above: Hitler the philo-Semite, oh boy.

 

Now I realise this has been translated into Farsi and then back into English, and may well lose something in translation, after all, I was billed as a senior researcher from France! My only claim to Frenchness is that I once spent a long weekend in Paris. But even allowing for mistranslations and for the fact that this publication was obviously produced in great haste, as is evinced from its numerous spelling mistakes (such as “Hiltler’s Wehrmacht” in the title), this claim is unworthy of belief. True, Adolf Hitler was not an anti-Semite in the same sense as Julius Streicher, and gratuitous violence against Jews was neither promoted nor condoned by the Nazi Government, certainly not prior to World War II (with perhaps the single spectacular exception of Kristallnacht), but the claim that Hitler was pro-Jewish is so over the top that it is unworthy of belief. This claim is not Revisionist, it is not even Nazi apologetics, it is simply silly. How the Conference organisers let that one slip through I’ll never know, but whatever else the Iranians may be accused of, no one could ever claim they were close-minded.

Returning to Rabbi Ahron Cohen, when he returned to Manchester, this quite elderly Talmudic scholar was treated worse than a leper and has in effect been booted out of his local synagogue and widely ostracised. His “crime” was to meet with people with whom he had fundamental disagreements, tell them they were wrong, and to try to convince them they were wrong with the power of reason and rational argument, as opposed to the dirty tricks and smear tactics beloved of Organised Zionist Jewry. And these are the people who denounce us as bigots. Don’t they just make you want to throw up?

There were a fair number of people present at the Tehran Conference who believed September 11 had been orchestrated by George W. Bush. There were one or two openly anti-Semitic Arabs, including one who spoke at the same session as me. He told his audience that he did not distinguish between Jews and Zionists because there was mostly no difference, and that while undoubtedly some Jews were of good will, the vast majority were not. He was obviously damaged goods, perhaps with a very good reason. Perhaps his father or brother had been murdered by the Israeli Army. Nevertheless, I couldn’t allow this sort of jaundiced nonsense to go unchallanged, and after he had finished speaking I pointed out that while the Palestinians had the most just cause on Earth, that cause was hindered rather than helped by suicide bombers and other terrorists. The overwhelming majority of civilian victims of Palestinian terrorism are ordinary working people. Bombs are often planted on buses. How many Jewish wire-pullers or power brokers travel to work by bus?

I had taken a few of my publications to Tehran, and at one point I exchanged with another speaker, a Malaysian lady who had been educated in Britain. Her large format self-published pamphlet is called HITLER & THE WANDERING JEW. I really don’t want to sound uncharitable but when I got home and read it I couldn’t quite believe some of the claims and assertions she made. And the sources she used...

Although she used many standard works - including by Jewish authors - some of her conclusions were fanciful in the extreme. She’d certainly done her homework on the historical background to Jewry, but her thesis that only some two hundred thousand Jews had died during World War II, and that most of them had been killed by other Jews, is quite frankly laughable. My own, personal belief is that the Jewish death toll is between one and two million - which is surely bad enough, but is dwarfed by the generally accepted figure of twenty million Russians. Although this lady - why not name her? - Zariani Abdul Rahman - had been reading conspiracy literature, on which she relied heavily, she suffered from a complaint which is shared by many authors of books on the Holocaust, particularly survivors: an inability to distinguish between fantasy and fact.

Thus her readers are informed that: “During his last weeks in the Berlin Bunker, Adolf Hitler even consulted a Turkish Jew, Ibrim Malacou”. She gives as her source for this claim They Used Dark Forces by Dennis Wheatley. As soon as I read this, alarm bells started ringing. In my teens I must have read a couple of dozen of Mr Wheatley’s books. I didn’t remember Ibrim Malacou (in reality Ibrahim Malacou) but I did remember reading this particular book. Like all but a couple of his works it is a novel. Other claims made by Miss Rahman are equally dubious. Or should one say Jew-bious? The Jewish origins of Adolf Hitler for example, this is an old canard, and one totally without foundation. She cited Louis Marschalko’s book The World Conquerors as a reliable source. Marshalko is one of the Jew-wise who sees the invisible Jewish hand behind everything, not least Communism. While the involvement of Jews with the Communist movement is hardly an issue, the context of this involvement is often missed. Trotsky for example despised Judaism, and it is seldom if ever mentioned that if many leading Communists were Jews, so were many anti-Communists, including the arch-anti-statist Ayn Rand. In his book The Jew In American Politics, Nathaniel Weyl makes the point that there were many outstanding Jewish anti-Communist editors and writers and that “Most of these men exposed the Communist conspiracy at a time when it was neither fashionable not profitable to do so.”

People like Zariani Rahman are routinely denounced by the morons of Organised Jewry - the ADL, the Board of Deputies, ad nauseum - as anti-Semites, but she was no more an anti-Semite than she was evil, indeed she was very well meaning. She was also incredibly gullible. She reminded me of Lady Birdwood, and I have no doubt that if she had published her pamphlet in Britain she would have suffered the same fate.

Upstairs at the Conference Centre was an exhibition of the Holocaust. It included some ostensibly faked photographs, including one which appears in Udo Walendy’s study Forged War Crimes malign the German Nation.

For many years I thought this photograph was an outright fake, but my researches into photography have led me to believe the issue of faked photographs isn’t quite that simple. Although there are several versions of this particular photograph, there is also an actual film of the shooting, which I saw on a TV documentary many years ago. [For the sake of clarity I reproduce below all three versions that appear in Walendy’s book].

A photograph from Udo Walendy’s study of propaganda fakes - 1

A photograph from Udo Walendy’s study of propaganda fakes - 2

A photograph from Udo Walendy’s study of propaganda fakes - 3

I pointed this out to one of the curators, a young woman who listened attentively, then replied that this was the point of the exercise, to establish the truth. In this connection, if the reader will bear with me, I would like to quote from the Journalist, May/June 1977. The LETTERS page of this issue contains two interesting missives on the subject of manipulation and fake photographs.

Roger Marriott of Leighton Buzzard writes that many photographs are often staged for the camera and cites two hypothetical examples: the bereaved parents sitting on a sofa looking at a photograph album, and the litigant who emerges from the High Court to toast his victory with champagne. Ronan Quinlan of Dublin writes that “ONE OF THE first things I learned in a darkroom was how to put clouds in a picture with an empty sky. It was a simple process. We did not consider that we had to declare the cheat.

Now that we can do this digitally we are told there must be some intrusive symbol attached...Why? Most pictures are manipulated in some way, if only to clean the scratches.”

This is undoubtedly true, however, contrast the above photograph(s) with the two below. Obviously one of these must be an outright fake. No sophistry, no special pleading, no whining and wailing about anti-Semitism, please. One is a fake.

Which if either is genuine - this?

Or this?

So what is the Court Historians’ answer to these photographs? What is the answer of professional Jewish propagandists such as Deborah E. Lipstadt? They have no answer, there is no debate, remember? And anyone who even suggests there might be must be tainted with anti-Semitism.

For the record, it was this photograph as much as anything else that set me off on the Revisionist path over a quarter of a century ago - God, am I really that old? Okay, you can argue that the Holocaust does not stand or fall on one fake photograph, but to this day I have not had any sort of explanation from the Exterminationist lobby as to the provenance of this photograph - of either version. Where did it come from? Who took it? Under what circumstances? Who doctored it, and why? I have no doubt I’ll still be waiting for answers to these questions in another twenty-five years. Should I live that long.

The fact that there are so many fake photographs begs the question, if there are so many genuine photographs of the Holocaust, why resort to such brazen fakery?

Leaving aside outright fakery, any photograph that is not captioned accurately is meaningless at best, and at worst a lie. And unless one can inspect the original negative, this is a pretty pointless exercise anyway. I mentioned the actual film of the man being shot next to his grave. How do we know this is genuine? How do we know the participants are not actors? How do we know that he wasn’t shot for some bona fide war-time reason? Could he have been a spy? Or a murderer? Again, without an accurate caption we are flailing around in the dark.

Photographs from Soviet sources are by far the worst offenders; some of them have been touched up to such an extent that they are little more than drawings. It may be that the people produced these photographs for publication were simply bad technicians; my own scanning and manipulation of photographs leaves much to be desired - as the reader will no doubt have noticed - but that excuse will not suffice for those whose primary intention is to deceive, like when they label a photograph of a delousing chamber a homicidal gas chamber. And then lobby the government to pass laws making their already state-sanctioned lies a criminal offence. The new digital photography may well make the detection of fraud and fakery all but impossible, but that is a headache for future historians.

Udo Walendy’s book is certainly not without merit, but anyone reading it should apply the same critical faculty to his methods as he does to the whole Holocaust lore. Clearly there is misrepresentation on both sides, but the greater lies are without doubt those perpetuated by the Exterminationist lobby.

Where was I? Oh yes, Tehran.

When the Conference was over we were taken to meet the man himself. It was here that I first spoke to Bradley Smith. “You’re Baron!?” he said. He remembered our E-mail correspondence from yonks back, and the fact that I’d found one of his newsletters in the British Library, at St Pancras. He lives in Mexico now.

Later, after meeting the President, we were taken to a restaurant for a slap up buffet. I remember thinking “I wish the British Government would treat me like this”.

I remember too asking Smith at one point what would happen if a woman were to venture into the street without her head covered. He said he didn’t know, but reckoned she would only do it once!

I suppose that compulsory wearing of a headscarf could be interpreted as a human rights violation, but none of the women I met - Iranian or otherwise - appeared to have a problem with it, and neither did I. It’s a cultural thing, and I think if I were to walk down the high street in Sydenham minus my trousers I would receive short shrift from our own “cultural enforcers”.

When we met the President I was very pleased to be able to deliver a much edited version of my eulogy, which was recorded for posterity. I have included in this section the speech as I had intended to deliver it. Afterwards, Smith said my puns had driven the translators crazy. How do you translate Tehran-osaurus Rex or Mahmoud the Tehran-ible into Fahsi? Or English for that matter!

The next day was buckshee, there was, I thought, nothing to do but kill time until my return flight. I had told Afshin Davoodi that I wanted to spend some time sightseeing in Tehran, and he had promised to arrange this. With typical Iranian efficiency or the lack thereof, no guided tour or any other tour materialised, but if it had I don’t think I’d have been up to it.

As this was only a short jaunt I was travelling light; apart from a coat, trousers and three or four changes of underwear I had brought little with me bar a few of my publications. I had bought a small, light suitcase, and it had wheels into the bargain. Even so, lugging it around the airports had done for my neck big time.

When I arrived back at the hotel Tuesday night I jumped in the bath, ordered a club sandwich, then crashed out after taking a handful of painkillers with my orange juice. Wednesday morning it was cold and snowing, or there was snow on the ground, and my head was killing me as well as my neck.

I spent some time in the business centre, wordprocessing and surfing the Internet, and the rest of the time crashed out in my room.

I was told at some point Monday or Tuesday that there would be a meeting on Wednesday night, but had all but forgotten about it. Ten minutes or so before we left I heard about it by chance.

The meeting was at the government-run guest house where some of the speakers were saying. When we got there I thanked Allah that they’d put me up in the hotel. The only thing going for the former was limited computer access, a very slow machine.

Apparently it had been decided the previous day to create a foundation based in Iran; this would be a non-governmental organisation. My view was that in the first instance they should set up a dedicated website. With a better proof reader! And that was about it as far as my jaunt to Tehran was concerned.

The following morning I had no problem getting up in time, my neck was still murder, and I hardly slept. I was down in the lobby well before five to collect my passport and ticket. I had one more unpleasant surprise before I left; the Internet usage and an international phone call I had made were to be paid in cash. I didn’t think I’d have enough so took out my Visa Electron, but the old guy behind the counter took most of my 10000 Rial notes and handed me back the balance.

At the airport I was buttonholed by a forty odd year old woman whom I took to be Iranian, but she turned out to be an Arab from Ealing! She was very light skinned and spoke fluent English like a gabby British housewife - which is undoubtedly what she was. She’d been there for a cosmetic surgery operation of all things, and had an enormous Persian rug or something and other stuff, and her baggage was well into excess.

She asked me if she could put some of it on my ticket. I figured if she was a suicide bomber it would make no difference, and if she was smuggling drugs we were on CCTV anyway, so I let her. I was rewarded with a cup of coffee; she also bought me a novelty knife from the gift shop.

I was on the plane before 8am, although but for an astute female ticket checker I might have ended up in Istanbul.

Including my new passport and other stuff I’m probably two hundred quid out of pocket on this jaunt. I saw nothing at all of Tehran: apart from the hotel I went to the Conference Centre, the Presidential Palace, a restaurant, and that was it. I travelled all this way to read a fifteen minute paper and surf the Internet, something I could have done at home, but even allowing for the disappointing turnout to hear my severely edited contribution, for the poor quality of some of the speakers, for the terrible botched job of translating the Abstracts of the proceedings, and for the disgusting tea they serve in Iran, made with warm milk, this was a truly remarkable event.

The Government of Iran headed by its charismatic President has done the world a service. It has broken a decades’ long taboo. The genie is now well and truly out of the bottle, and no matter how much Organised Jewry and their lapdogs may whine, wail and scream, the Kosher chickens of the Hoax of the Twentieth Century are coming home to roost.

I predict - have already predicted on Usenet - that the next Holocaust Conference will be bigger and better; we will see a lot more non-white faces, and a lot more non-Islamic contributors. Long live Mahmoud the Tehran-ible!


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