U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry used his finest diplospeak Sunday to strongly urge Iran to cancel its Holocaust cartoon contest, even though it was highly unlikely Iran would cooperate.
The “suggestion” came in what appeared to be a prompt response to a personal request from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend to demand Iran cancel the Holocaust cartoon contest.
Netanyahu told reporters he had personally asked Kerry in a phone conversation Saturday night to condemn the Holocaust cartoon contest held over the weekend in Iran, the prime minister said Sunday.
“I think that every country in the world must stand up and fully condemn this,” Netanyahu said. “This is what I told US Secretary of State John Kerry last night in my conversation with him.”
Netanyahu posted photos of the contest registration being held in Tehran on Twitter with the tweet: Iran hosts Holocaust-denial cartoon contest while preparing another Holocaust. Shameful. Don’t stay quiet about it.”
Kerry was in Saudi Arabia on Sunday meeting with King Salman in talks on the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen. He also met with the Saudi crown prince, deputy crown prince and foreign minister.
But Kerry was apparently also listening closely to the Israeli government’s outrage over Iran’s anti-Semitic Holocaust cartoon contest. He was also likely to have been considering the effect Iran’s actions – and America’s response – might have on the U.S. presidential election campaign, and/or the effect it could have on Israel’s increasingly close ties with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Netanyahu is slated to fly to Moscow next month on an official state visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties with Russia.
Shortly after Netanyahu called on Kerry to denounce Iran’s actions, the State Department released a statement expressing “concern” over the effect the contest might have, and denouncing Holocaust denial in general.
“We are concerned that this contest in Iran could be used as a platform for Holocaust denial and revisionism and egregiously anti-Semitic speech, as it has in the past,” said the statement, tweeted by AP journalist Matt Lee.
“Such offensive speech should be condemned by the authorities and civil society leaders rather than encouraged. We denounce any Holocaust denial and trivialization as inflammatory and abhorrent. It is insulting to the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust,” the statement said.