Jewish organizations seeking to draw attention to Iran’s murderous intentions vis-Ã -vis Israel and the West would do well to stress the Islamic Republic’s human rights violations.
As The New York Times noted in an editorial on Wednesday, “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad â€¦ is preparing to come to the United Nations this month where he will enjoy the freedom to speak his mind. Back home, far too many people are denied their basic rights and are deprived of their freedom. Since fraudulent presidential elections in June, and a harsh government crackdown that followed, at least 100 people, including politicians, lawyers, and journalists, have been jailed.”
One of them is Maziar Bahari, a correspondent for Newsweek, which reports that he “is a leading contender for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, one of the world’s most prestigious honors,” which has been called Spain’s Nobel Prize.
Bahari has been imprisoned for 11 weeks and forced to confess, according to the Times, that he “took part in a ‘velvet coup’ engineered by the West to oust Mr. Ahmadinejad,” a charge the Times calls “blatantly false.”
Bahari – who was born in Iran but is a citizen of Canada – is also a documentary filmmaker. Jewish Standard readers may have seen his film “The Voyage of the Saint Louis,” about the ill-fated ship carrying Jewish refugees seeking a safe haven from the pending Holocaust.
Which brings us to an interesting conjunction of ideas.
The Toronto film festival is slated to begin on Thursday, Sept. 10, and a number of ill-informed celebrities – including Danny Glover and Jane Fonda – are boycotting the event because it is spotlighting the city of Tel Aviv (which is celebrating its 100th birthday) and Israeli filmmakers.
The Washington Times noted that “Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici complained that [filmmaker John Greyson] is now trying to shut down the voices of filmmakers in the only country in the Middle East that allows free expression.”
All those ardent activists who want to repair the world by boycotting the film festival for its focus on Israel would do better to raise their voices there on behalf of Bahari, Canadian, filmmaker, prisoner of Iran.