WASHINGTON – Could the Jewish New Year herald a fresh start in Iran?
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was known for incendiary anti-Semitic comments, questioning whether the Holocaust was “a real event” and once suggesting that Israel be “wiped off the map.”
So it was more than a little surprising Wednesday when a tweet went out from an account carrying the name of Ahmadinejad's freshly inaugurated successor, Hassan Rouhani, saying:
A similar message was later sent from an account belonging to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a U.S.-educated veteran diplomat:
Happy Rosh Hashanah— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 5, 2013
[Updated 2:59 p.m. PDT, Sept. 5: Perhaps the messages weren’t meant for domestic consumption. Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency on Thursday quoted a senior advisor to Rouhani as saying that that Twitter account may be operated by the president’s supporters but not by Rouhani himself. Any "official news" about Rouhani is released by the president's office, the advisor was quoted as saying.
However, an Iranian diplomat confirmed that the account attributed to Zarif belongs to him.]
Christine Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, replied to Zarif:
Thanks. The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran's Holocaust denial, sir. “@JZarif: Happy Rosh Hashanah”— sfpelosi (@sfpelosi) September 5, 2013
On Thursday morning, Zarif responded: “Iran never denied it. The man who did is now gone. happy new year.”
Zarif later changed that to: “The man who was perceived to be denying it.”