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Does the Iranian president believe in Santa Claus? 

Was it sufficient for 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl to get an interview with Ebrahim Raisi, regardless of the substance?

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in CBS' “60 Minutes” interview (Photo: Screenshot)

In a recent interview on 60 Minutes with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, American TV journalist Leslie Stahl asked Raisi if he believed the Holocaust took place.

His response was a form of denial; he certainly did not affirm the Holocaust happened, nor that the murder of 6 million Jews took place. But he suggested that if it really did happen, then evidence should be presented to prove it.

“Historical events should be researched by researchers and historians,” Raisi noted. “There are some signs that it happened. If so, they should allow it to be investigated and researched.”  

Either Iran’s top leader is tremendously ignorant, or he is evil. Although in this case, I would argue that he is both. 

Of course, he did not define who “they” are, apart from referencing those who allegedly are preventing the Holocaust from being “investigated and researched.” Nor did Leslie Stahl ask. We’re left to assume that it’s the Big and/or Little Satan, i.e. the U.S. and Israel – or perhaps the West, in general – which are preventing true investigation and research. Maybe, it’s Santa and his reindeer. 

It’s curious why Leslie Stahl asked Raisi the question anyway, if not to make headlines, rather than actually dig into the hateful and evil nature of the Iranian regime and its extremist Islamic ideology. However, she offered no follow up. 

Stahl might have asked Raisi if Holocaust Study programs are offered as a major or minor at any Iranian universities. Surely “they” can’t prevent that. Perhaps, Stahl could have enlightened the Iranian president about actual studies and research, along with the hard evidence that does exist, including the acknowledgement of guilt and responsibility by many of the (western) perpetrators. Maybe, she could have suggested that Iran allocate 10% of its nuclear weapons research budget – or whatever budget is used to fund terror groups and operations around the world – to investigate. Maybe even just 5%. 

Stahl went into the interview knowing she would ask Raisi to confirm or deny that the Holocaust happened. Whatever his response may have been, she should have been prepared for a serious 
follow-up question. Stahl’s response, however, was, “You’re not sure. I’m getting that you’re not sure.” Quick, call the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize committees. A journalistic grand slam! How Raisi contained a chuckle is beyond me. 

Then, she asked Iranian diplomat Raisi whether or not Israel has the right to exist, to which the Islamic con artist responded, “The people of Palestine are the reality. This is the right of the people of Palestine who were forced to leave their houses and motherland. The Americans are supporting the false regime there.” 

Not missing a beat, Stahl missed the beat. She mumbled something about "Arab countries recently making peace with Israel" or in talks with Israel, drawing Raisi’s ire, not for her tough journalist question, but the traitorous fellow Muslims who dared to make peace with “the Zionist entity.” Judge Raisi replied, “If a state shakes hands with the Zionist regime then they are also an accomplice to their crimes.” 

Stahl missed the fact that 41 years ago – three years after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel – he was assassinated in an Iranian-led plot.

Was Raisi making the same threats today? Stahl didn’t even ask the president about overt Iranian threats on Israel’s existence and how its nuclear weapons program, fully documented, is aimed as Israel’s destruction. She could have at least connected her softball Holocaust question with the one about Israel’s right to exist. But nope; she swung and missed. 

Would the same attention be given to her interview if she had asked whether Raisi believed Santa Claus existed?  In fact, tens if not hundreds of millions of Christian children believe that Santa does exist and if they are nice, he will bring them presents on Christmas. Raisi’s naughty deceit earns him a big lump of coal which might be helpful in Iran’s crumbling economy. But it was Stahl’s journalistic malpractice that was the actual gift. 

Officially, Islam grants Jews and Christians second class dhimi status, and recognizes Moses and Jesus as prophets, but not THE prophet. So of course, the Iranian president’s view on Santa Claus matters. How he’s been feeding the reindeer with the rising price of food has got to be on everyone’s mind. If she really wanted to make headlines, that’s the tough journalistic question she should have asked. 

While Santa Claus is a myth (sorry for the spoiler), the Holocaust is not. There is abundant evidence that only someone grossly ignorant and no less evil could begin to deny.

I’m not really sure why she asked him the question, however, what I don’t understand is why she didn’t push back and challenge him. It indicates to me that she was really there more to get headlines as click bait rather than any substantial investigative reporting. 

I remember growing up, Sunday nights we watched 60 Minutes as a family. Back then, 60 Minutes set the bar for some legitimate investigative reporting that made headlines for the actual content. It wasn’t because the interviewer lobbed a softball question at the interviewee and then, when the ball was hit back at the interviewer, s/he would duck so as to avoid getting hit, rather than catching the ball and making the play. But that’s what Leslie Stahl did.  

Why did she miss so badly? Did she not care? Was it sufficient to get the interview and let that becomethe news, regardless of the substance? Was she afraid she wouldn’t be invited back to Tehran? Did she worry she’d end up dead like 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the Iranian women who was recently murderedby Iran’s morality police for not wearing her hijab properly? Or become one of several killed whileprotesting this young woman’s death?  

Fortunately, Leslie Stahl was not attacked, because she was told how to dress and how to behave in front of the Iranian president, and she complied. At the beginning of her interview, Stahl greeted President Raisi with her hand clutching her heart, drooling over how nice it was to meet him. I wanted to stick my hand down my throat and make myself vomit. She should have her “journalist license” revoked.

Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He is host of the popular Inspiration from Zion podcast. He can be reached at

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