Last week I came face to face with evil, as I stood just a few feet away from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We were both staying in the same hotel in Geneva. He was there to be the opening speaker at Durban II, a review and reprise of Durban I, the United Nations sponsored conference on racism that had turned into a racist hate fest against the Jewish people and the Jewish state. I was there–along with Elie Wiesel, Irwin Cotler and others who have devoted their lives to combating bigotry–to try to prevent a recurrence of Durban I.
Some of us,upon hearing the word “evil”, cringe in fear–not of the evil, mind you, but of the use of such a polarizing term. It’s one of those words that has gone out of fashion. It’s one of those words that has been consistently overused in order to defeat ideological enemies. I remember reading in one of Oriana Fallaci’spost-9/11 books (the ones that turned so much of the world against her, as if she had been the author of the attack on New York) her memory of having “met” Osama Bin Laden in a Beirut hotel lobby in 1982. She described (I’m writing from memory) having looked into his eyes and “known” that she was looking into the eyes of evil: calm, determined, almost laughing eyes.
On 9/11 that memory came hurtling back to her in all its prophetic gloom.
I’m already tired of quoting Ahmadinejad. He always says the same things. Ynet has two articles worthy of more attention than anything I could post. The first, by Sever Plocker, concerns lawfare and caused me to lose a bit of sleep last night:
The peace-seeking Iran pledges to accept the majority decision in the above-mentioned referendum. Therefore, this is not about nuclear sabre-rattling or a declaration of war on the Zionists, but rather, a just and democratic solution that will be achieved peacefully and with international consensus.
If, as result of the referendum, the Jewish state will be abolished, the Jews would not be threatened with extermination or a second “Holocaust.” They will be allowed to integrate into the great Palestinian state as a religious element with recognized civil rights, even beyond the rights given to Iranian Jews. The Muslims, as opposed to the Nazis, will do everything to protect the Jewish minority to be left in Palestine in the wake of the referendum results’ implementation.
All that is left is to change the UN’s voting procedures: The four billion people residing in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America are the majority, and they deserve to be recognized as such. Iran will serve as their mouthpiece; that is, Ahmadinejad’s mouth.
Well, my allergies caused me to lose sleep. Still, this is a disturbing hypothesis.
The second article is by Yoel Meltzer, and is a wake-up call telling us that the Two State Solution is, by now, a mere relic of wishful thinking:
Please explain to them that it is nearly 100% certain that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will eventually bring missiles to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Equally important, make it clear to them that this is a prediction based upon Middle Eastern reality and not some sort of “scare tactic” or “right-wing analysis.”
In addition, please remind them that suicide, in any shape or size, is forbidden in Judaism and therefore national suicide, which will be the result of a two-state solution, is clearly forbidden.
The only answer, as far as I can see, is widespread Arab-Muslim recognition of Israel. This childish,counterproductive intransigence, above and beyond all other “obstacles to peace”, is the true root of the conflict. I wish I had a t-shirt that read:
Because not everyone who might stumble upon this blog reads Israeli papers, and most of the people I know haven’t been following the Durban 2 circus in Geneva, I’m linking to this video which I saw in Haaretz.
On the sidelines of the Durban II conference in Geneva on Tuesday, a member of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s entourage accosted Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel and began screaming “Zio-Nazi” at the Holocaust survivor.
You can actually see Ahmadinejad walking by if you watch closely. Of course, we’re chumps for taking these thugs seriously, right?
Things aren’t going so well after day one up in Geneva. Clowns were arrested, Ahmadinejad called Israel all sorts of bad things and was called a racist himself (but only by the clowns, mind you). There was apparently a move by the already diffident EU delegates to walk out on the Conference once his rant got underway. It isn’t clear from today’s papers whether France and England are there for day two or not. There was a “severe” condemnation from Sarkozy. The Vatican is staying put.
There was soft condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s words, but apparently the UN cannot allow itself to say anything that might be misconstrued as an opinion. They “condemned” Ahmadinejad’s choice of words, though he didn’t apparently pronounce the name “Israel.” Perhaps this means he was speaking of another country when he called it a “racist government” in the Middle East. Maybe he meant Syria, or Lebanon? Maybe he was being self-referential, post-modern, over our heads by talking about himself?
Anyway, the big news from Geneva is that there is no big news. Day one went just as most of us thought it would. Navi Pillay just doesn’t get it:
“A boycott isn’t the best response.”
Apparently this was the extent of her emotion at the hijacking of her Conference by a fanatical head of state who happens to be the world’s most visible Holocaust denier and potential genocidal maniac. Perhaps we should go back and take a look at Jeffrey Goldberg’s painstakingly compiled dossier of Ahmadinejad’s money quotes on Israel.
This morning’s Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s leading newspapers, has a snippet article on Durban 2. Germany and Sweden have pulled out at the last minute, while France and Great Britain are attending. The Pope chimed in with a blessing over the heads of all the participants, calling for:
Which begs the question: is Joseph Ratzinger completely insane? Is he unaware that his own church still condemns homosexuality? Are homosexuals not deserving of the same rights as others who suffer discrimination: Jews, women, blacks and minorities of every stripe and creed? After having scandalously reinstated a Holocaust-denying bishop a few months ago, it hardly seems that Pope Benedict XVI is qualified to make such universal-sounding pronouncements.
Of course the Pope is no ignoramus. He’s just a cynic. What can a blessing from such a man possibly augur?
Hours after the US said it would boycott a UN conference on racism starting Monday in Geneva over objectionable language in the meeting’s final document that could single out Israel for criticism, Australia and Holland followed suit on Sunday morning, saying they were concerned the conference would be derailed by some countries to issues other than human rights.
So let’s see, that makes the US, Israel, Canada, Italy, Holland and Australia the only countries officially willing to admit that tomorow’s conference actually has nothing to do with racism or human rights? Where is the EU? According to JPost,
The European Union was still weighing its own participation.
Well, they still a few hours left to save themselves from embarrassment.
On the eve of Durban 2, it might be worth recalling the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I just rushed through the last hundred or so pages of her autobiography, Infidel. It was a much different book than I had imagined, having approached it expecting a sort of female Christopher Hitchens–a snide wit ridiculing Islam, getting in a few punches below the belt for good measure. Of course, Hitchens is better than that much of the time, but Hirsi Ali is different altogether. She has a patient style, judicious even, and tells her tale bluntly. She is not angry with God (she is an atheist, so that would be contradictory), nor is she burning with rage against the Muslim world into which she was born. Her story is probably typical of many Somali women, except that her father was a high-profile revolutionary while she was growing up. Her genitals were excised at the age of six, as is the tradition of her clan. She was educated as a traditional Muslim, and even sympathised with the Muslim Brotherhood for a period while she lived in Kenya. She believed Islam was perfect and held the answers to all of life’s questions. Then something snapped, and she grew up.
She was betrothed to a man she had never met, and pretty much forced into marriage. The facade of tradition was already cracked, and while on a stopover in Germany (on her way to Canada to become her new husband’s property) she snuck into Holland, applied for refugee status, and was eventually accepted. She learned Dutch (which, from what I can gather, is her sixth language–after Somali, Swahili, Amharic, Arabic and English), studied political science, obtained a degree, and then began to wonder what to do with so much freedom.
Fast forward to Sept. 11, 2001. Hirsi Ali began to speak out about Islam, about how suicide terrorism is not the result of ignorance and poverty. She said the attackers were acting in perfect harmony with their faith. The more she spoke, the more people began to listen. She began to receive death threats, which she didn’t take seriously at first. Then, once a member of the Dutch Parliament, Hirsi Ali dedicated herself politically to the betterment of Muslim women’s lives. That was her bone to pick. She said the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a pedophile and tyrant in modern-day Holland, which some people didn’t like. The death threats began to get serious.
Then she made this film with Theo van Gogh:
Van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight in Amsterdam not long thereafter. He didn’t take the death threats seriously. Hirsi Ali was immediately whisked into hiding, shuttled from apartment to apartment, finally ending up in a motel in smalltown Massachusetts. At times even she couldn’t know where she was being hidden. She could not use a telephone or go online for any reason. She could not risk being traced. Her potential killers could be anywhere, ready at a moment’s notice to make good on their promise to cut her throat.
Even Hirsi Ali admits in her book that all this top-security mishaguss was a bit much. But she was a member of the Dutch government, so she got the star treatment. When she was finally allowed back in Holland, she was made to resign and had her citizenship revoked on a technicality. Her neighbors even complained that her presence made them feel unsafe. They rallied to kick her out of her home. So she became a refugee, again.
Long story short, she was offered a job in the United States, where she now lives and works. Her Dutch citizenship has been reinstated.
Days away from the Durban 2 conference in Geneva, and the only major coverage seems to be in the Israeli media. Which isn’t a big surprise, seeing as they have more to lose from the backlash than anyone. Today’s Jerusalem Post explains why Israelis are worried:
Already in advance of Durban II, a two-day anti-Israel NGO conference is scheduled to meet on April 18 and 19th, called “The Israel Review Conference.” An anti-Israel rally is also scheduled in Geneva for April 18.
So this is the secret meaning of the Durban conference. It’s a kind of primer for the real event, when the hevyweights show up to do the big Israel-bashing.
Is there still anyone out there who cannot see this facade for what it is? It is thinly disguised Jew-hatred (oh, but there will be anti-Zionist Jews there doing the bashing–so don’t call them anti-Semites!) sanctioned by the UN–an organization which has completely lost its bearings. And everyone will be there–everyone except Israel, the US, Canada and–I never get tired of repeating this–Italy. The EU will be there “in good faith”, which is how things are officially done these days in Europe.
The UN High Commissionerfor Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, had this to say:
“The goals set out in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action have not been achieved. This reality should prompt us to seek common grounds to move the struggle against racism forward. The tools and capacity for achieving the goals outlined in the Declaration and Programme of Action are within reach if we remain committed to those objectives.”
I take this to mean that Israel still exists, and it takes another doleful “conference” of racists, xenophobes, Holocaust deniers and their appeasers to strike another blow at the Jewish State and its supporters.
Today’s Ynet Culture report has an edifying proclamation: “Italy loves us!”
Liron Bar Sadeh of the Israeli embassy in Rome said that Italy’s treatment of Israel was uniquely positive. “They love us and do a lot to strengthen the ties. It’s important to remember that Italy is the only country in Europe, and one of the only ones in the world, after the US and Canada, which withdrew from the Durban 2 anti-racism conference.
“Italy said that it is appalled by the systematic discrimination of Israel and the fact it is branded a threat to the world, while other countries are not considered a threat despite their actions. Italy published positive statements and supported us throughout the war, during which the Italian media, unlike other news outlets in Europe, has been very balanced.”
None of this means that all Italians really love Israel, just that–perhaps from an Israeli perspective–things aren’t quite as bad here in Italy as in the rest of Europe. Italy has its fair share of naysayers, haters and all-around anti-Zionists, of course. Some of them even have television shows, newspapers and the like. But it’s nothing like England, one place in Europe no Israeli could exactly call chummy.
So what keeps Italy from devolving into a pit of anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic hatred–a sickness which is sucking Europe down into its vortex a mere sixty years after it nearly committed suicide? How come Italy is still the only European nation to have pulled out of the upcoming Durban 2 conference, allied only with the United States, Canada and Israel against the likes of the rest of the world. This is from yesterday’s Durban 2 draft negotiations, courtesy of UN Watch:
Syria “will never be party to a ceremonial or redundant activity,” which fails to address “the agony of millions of victims, especially within countries with a blatant, institutionalized basis of racism” (read: Israeli “racism” against Palestinians). It added, “We will never support the surviving apartheid regime.” It also railed against those who have threatened boycott of Durban II, arguing, “Threatening to boycott or walkout is no longer acceptable within the framework of international cooperation.”
No longer acceptable? What does Syria propose to do, kick them out on their behinds?
As long as freedom of speech–and freedom to criticize religion–are on the line, as well as explicit condemnation of Israel (but no other countries), the entire conference will be nothing but a farce. The fact that so few countries have had the balls to pull out is a telling sign. Will they sit still and listen when Israel is bashed to bits, as they did in 2001?
Italy, always fearful of lagging behind the rest of cultured Europe, for once is way ahead of the pack.
Two weeks ago I saw Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor give this speech at the Italian Parliament. Italy is so far the only European country to have pulled out of the Durban II Conference in Geneva, which will be held next month from April 20-24.
Anyway, the point is that NGO Monitor has assigned itself the task of carefully monitoring all those saintly NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc…who are themselves on the prowl for every Israeli human rights violation–even when there are none. These NGO’s display what is called the “halo effect”, which is basically a form of infallibility. Many people feel that their humanitarian status makes them unbiased and therefore moral, and people like to have their morality spoon fed to them, especially when it comes to Israel.
“In Durban, NGO participants singled out Israel for attack. Palestinian NGOs distributed copies of the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and leaflets depicting Hitler and the caption, “What if I had won?” The answer: “There would be No Israel and No Palestinian bloodshed.”