If you watch JTA’s video of Ahmadinejad’s speech yesterday — and I know at least 6,000 of you did — you’ll hear him make this comment as he began to talk about Israel.
"Following the World War II, they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless, on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the …."
At this point, the translator begins to say "and the am- …" and then he seems to get stuck. He picks up the translation at the beginning of the next sentence, where the Iranian president is talking about "migrants" who made the Palestinians homeless and established a racist regime.
Well, according to prepared text of the speech provided by the Iranians before Ahmadinejad’s speech, the sentence should have been: "Following the World War Two, they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless, on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the ambiguous and dubious question of holocaust." (Lower-case "h." But who are we to split hairs?)
But according to clarifications we got from the U.N., the line he actually uttered was "on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the abuse of the question of the holocaust." — indicating Jewish exploitation of the Holocaust.
Why the change? According to the U.N., Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Ahmadinejad before his speech and urged him not to equate Zionism to racism and not to challenge the veracity of the Holocaust. Apparently, the Iranian leader heeded only half that message.
What makes the situation even more interesting, though, is that the change-up apparently threw off the Farsi-to-English translator, so that we — and presumably, all other journalists — never heard the word "Holocaust" even mentioned. Until today, when the U.N. sent out the clarification.
Maria Heuze, a UN spokeswoman, says she has no idea why the translator — who isn’t a UN employee, but was brought in for this occasion — slipped up. Perhaps he was surprised when he saw the European delegates marching out of the room in protest. Or maybe he was confused by the text, versus what Ahmadinejad was actually saying. “I don’t know what happened to him,” she said. “I’m not in his head.”
At least, that’s the story at present. We think the whole affair seems "ambiguous and dubious."