Iran cancels annual anti-Zionism conference

Iran cancels annual anti-Zionism conference

Latest gesture from regime intent on changing its public image garners criticism from hardliners, says report

Then-presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani waves from a campaign bus in the western city of Sanandaj, Iran, earlier this year (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)
Then-presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani waves from a campaign bus in the western city of Sanandaj, Iran, earlier this year (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian officials have reportedly ordered the cancellation of an annual anti-Zionism conference.

As part of an apparent effort to rebrand the Islamic Republic in post-Ahmadinejad times, the New Horizon Conference, scheduled to take place in November, was cancelled by the Foreign Ministry, reported The Telegraph.

Hardliners in Iran blasted the decision, which they see as another concession on the part of the new government. Iran’s recently elected president, Hassan Rouhani, has made a concerted effort to put a new face on the regime in Tehran. This after eight years of his Holocaust-denying predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Websites sympathetic to organizers of the conference displayed strings of angry comments, according to the British report: “Have our leaders given in so much to the world that are even afraid of a conference that might hurt Mr Obama’s feelings?” read one post. “The latest piece from our government’s show of capitulation,” read another.

The event was supposed to feature a former US senator, as well as 63 “overseas contributors,” said the British daily.

In the US last week and in Israel this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been speaking repeatedly to US, European and even Farsi-language media outlets, warning of Iran’s and Rouhani’s duplicity regarding the nuclear issue, and urging the international community not to lift sanctions unless or until Iran is stripped of its “military nuclear” capabilities.

If sanctions on Iran are removed without ensuring a guaranteed end to uranium enrichment, Europe and the rest of the world will face hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a “murderous” regime, Netanyahu said in a series of interviews with European media outlets Thursday.

“When a murderous regime engages in soft diplomacy and uses calming words of peace, but nevertheless continues to acquire immense power — it must be stopped, immediately,” Netanyahu said, according to quotes provided by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“This is the central lesson of the 20th century. It’s also the central lesson of North Korea. If [the Iranian regime] is not stopped immediately, there won’t be just two bombs pointed toward you [the Europeans], but 200. Stop it now while you’re in a strong position to do so,” he exhorted.

The interviews, timed ahead of next week’s new round of talks in Geneva between the P5+1 powers and Iran over its rogue nuclear program, were conducted with Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and ARD TV, France’s Le Monde and France 24, and the UK’s Financial Times and Sky TV.

Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report.

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