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President Ahmadinejad, last month, doesn’t want to think about shaking Israeli hands.(Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images)

It might have seemed routine for an adviser to the Israeli tourism minister to mention that his boss shook hands with another tourism minister at a royal Spanish reception. These are tourism ministers! If anyone is a friendly type, surely it’s a tourism minister!

But the tourism minister with which the Israeli one shook hands—allegedly!—is from Iran. And in Iran, shaking hands with an Israeli is like wearing white after Labor Day—it’s just not done. That the two exchanged pleasantries is an “ugly and false rumor,” according to an Iranian spokesperson. The Islamic Republic’s tourism minister, we are told, “never encountered Israeli officials in any form”: after all, “the permanent struggle against this international pariah is divine duty.” Maybe that can be Iran’s new tourism slogan! That’ll bring in the crowds.

Diplomatic Hand Extended: Furor May Erupt if Shaken [NYT]





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