Monday, November 06, 2006

In Defense of Massoud Shojai Tabatabai

In a recent newsletter by editorial cartoonist Daryl Cagle, he wrote about the results of the misidentified Iranian "Holocaust" cartoon contest. I was a little surprised at quotes attributed to the manager of The Iranian House of Cartoon, Massoud Shojai Tabatabai.

The exhibit curator, Masoud Shojai, said the contest will be an annual event and added: "Actually, we will continue until the destruction of Israel." Iran's President Ahmedinejad has called for Israel to be "erased from the map" and has denied that the Holocaust took place. Shojai is a former contributor to our site, see his cartoons here. Shojai didn't disclose the name of a second place winner of the event, a cartoonist from France. Shojai is quoted saying, "You can call the French cartoonist 'Mr X'. If I reveal his name, he may face imprisonment in France."

I immediately recognized some problems with the statements. I didn't believe Shojai would have said, "Actually, we will continue until the destruction of Israel." I also knew that all of the winners had been clearly shown on the IranCartoon website. The contest on a whole has been misrepresented by the Western media. The subjects of the contest were actually:

  1. Why must the Palestinian people pay for the Holocaust
  2. What is the limit of free speech in the West

I was assured by Shojai early on at the beginning of the competition that the intent was NOT to ridicule the Holocaust and, contrary to truncated and misrepresentations of what the Iranian president said, there is no denial of the Holocaust. They know this is historical fact. To say that the Holocaust was a "myth" was not to mean that it was a made up event. What is meant is that the Holocaust has been given mythological proportions and is used to justify anything Israel might do.

I immediately emailed Shojai and questioned him about the statements attributed to him. Today, Shojai responded with this:

Dear David

at least,i find the root of lies:

NASSER KARIMI from Iran- Associated Press Writer

I inserted in the first page of irancartoon

this is my words:

Massoud Shojai Tabatabai denies any interview with the Associated Press and the quotations in this press agency's news are lies!

at thanks a lot for telling me about this lie!
I am sorry for Associated Press
best wishes
massoud shojai

An excellent breakdown of the communication and down right distortions about what has been said can be found on the blog "Lawrence Of Cyberia".

I suggest anyone who has a tendency to have knee-jerk reactions take a look.

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