Iranian radio revives Papal-Jewish conspiracy theories
by Ted Lipien
FreeMediaOnline.org Free Media Online, Dublin, CA, November 12, 2006 -- Iranian state broadcaster Voice of Islamic Republic of Iran is promoting a new conspiracy theory involving Pope Benedict XVI and former U.S. secretary of state Dr. Henry Kissinger. [Link] As in many of its previous propaganda broadcasts, the focus of the latest Iranian radio report is an alleged conspiracy involving a well-known member of the Jewish-American community. The report contains logical and factual mistakes, but its propaganda value among many intended audiences is not likely to be diminished by the lack of sophistication and basic errors.
Commenting on a recent private audience granted to Henry Kissinger by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, the Iranian broadcaster described Henry Kissinger as "anti-Christian" presumably because he is Jewish. The Iranian radio stated that "this is not the first time the Vatican, which claims to be champion of Christianity uses foreign, anti-Christian experts."
Citing a report by the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa, the Iranian radio reported that "the Leader of the Catholic sect of Christianity, Pope
Benedict XVI has called on former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, a Jew who does not believe in either Prophet Jesus (peace upon him) or his Virgin mother, Mary (peace upon her), to become a member of the Vatican’s consultative council on foreign policy."
Audiences which tend to believe such broad propaganda claims are not likely to question logical and factual mistakes in the Iranian broadcast. It is also unclear whether Iranian radio editors are even aware of basic inconsistencies in their arguments, and whether they would be at all concerned if they knew.
Nazi and Soviet propaganda experts often did not hide their belief that some falsehoods were not necessarily bad and even required for scoring propaganda points. They also pointed out that propaganda is not designed for educated and sophisticated individuals but should appeal to the emotions of mass audiences incapable of critical thinking.
Iranian and Arab media reports with anti-Semitic claims are often full of factual mistakes and frequently written in ungrammatical and difficult to understand English. Such reports, generally ignored by Western media, are often repeated by media outlets in the Middle East.
In compounding its mistakes, Iranian radio further claimed that the previous Catholic pontiff, Pope John Paul II, also consulted with foreign anti-Christian experts, in this case the former U.S. national security adviser, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski. Like the previous pope, Dr. Brzezinski is both Polish and Catholic -- the fact acknowledged by the Iranian broadcaster. Dr. Brzezinski's last name was misspelled on the Iranian radio web site as "Berzhinsky." Dr. Kissinger was born in Germany, which is also the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI. Young Henry Kissinger and his immediate family managed to escape Nazi persecution of Jews by immigrating to the United States in the 1930s.
The Iranian radio could not explain what makes both Dr. Kissinger and Dr. Brzezinski "anti-Christian" and why the popes would knowingly consult on a regular basis with people holding anti-Christian views. Conspiracy theory reporting is often driven by journalists' inability to understand that people of different religions and backgrounds are not necessarily each other's enemies and may want to talk to each other.
As a proof that there may be an anti-Muslim conspiracy involving Dr. Kissinger, the Iranian broadcaster made an assertion that one of the most important topics of his contacts with Pope Benedict XVI "are related to resurgent Islam, which is claiming more and more adherents around the globe." Benedict XVI came under severe criticism in Muslim countries for his comments about the history of Islam made during the visit to his native Germany in September. He was also criticized by Arab-American organizations. Some media outlets in Muslim countries claimed that there was a Jewish conspiracy behind the Pope's comments. [Article in American Arab Forum | Anti Defamation League press release ]
Catholic popes receive numerous prominent visitors and listen to their views, although they may not agree with them on many issues. One of the visitors at the Vatican during Pope John Paul II's papacy was the then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. In December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI received Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during a private audience in his library at the Vatican.