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In hit Iranian TV drama, Holocaust no 'myth'

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"Of course, nothing in cinema and television will be complete [but] overall, we think the whole story is a positive point for Jews in Iran," says Ciamak Moresadegh, chairman of the Tehran Jewish Committee, which wrote a letter of thanks to Iran's state-owned television. "The problems between the Zionist movement and Iran are not related to the Jewish population in Iran," says Mr. Moresadegh. The TV drama "helps make this clear."

A large number of Jews left Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and many were purged as untrustworthy from the military officer corps and other professions. The exodus has slowed considerably, but continues. Judaism is an officially sanctioned religion, and Jews are allotted one seat in Iran's parliament. But the Jewish community has sometimes come under pressure; several Jews arrested in 1999 were charged with spying for Israel.

Mr. Ahmadinejad says the six million killed in the Holocaust are a modern exaggeration used by the West to create Israel on occupied Muslim lands; and not a birthright of Jews who consider Israel a land promised them by God. He routinely decries Israel, saying the Jewish state will be "wiped from the face of time."

The final episode of "Zero Degree Turn" shows Nazi Germany in favor of the Zionist enterprise as a way of moving Jews out of Europe. In the story, the Zionist uncle – who tries to keep the Iranian Muslim and his Jewish niece apart, sometimes at the point of a gun – is seen in a synagogue, expounding on the virtues of Zionism. "Any Jew who lives outside Palestine is not a Jew."

The series could not have come at a more relevant time for Iranians. The president hosted a Holocaust conference last December that featured Holocaust deniers. In a bid to reassure the Jewish community, Iran's foreign ministry in March facilitated a diplomatic tour of Jewish facilities in Tehran.

The magnified relevance of the series has been coincidence, says Mr. Fathi, a veteran director of historical fiction. "I decided to produce this series in 2002, and in those days the Holocaust was not an issue," he says.

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