Ahmadinejad’s Folly: Steinberg and Bayefsky on the First Day of Durban

Analysis of today’s events at Durban by Gerald Steinberg and Anne Bayefsky. Renounce Durban strategy and go after the abusers of human rights. Too bad so few people use the term demopath.

Apr 21, 2009 2:44 | Updated Apr 21, 2009 2:45
Analysis: Ahmadinejad buries the Durban process
By GERALD STEINBERG
GENEVA

The corridor discussions in the United Nations building before Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s arrival focused on two questions: Would he tone down his usual Holocaust denial and threats against Israel in order to appear reasonable? And if not, would diplomats from countries like Britain, France and Norway – those that decided to participate in contrast to Canada, the US, Italy and Germany – fulfill their pledge to walkout if the “red lines” of Holocaust denial and racism were crossed.

We did not have long to wait – the speech was as bad as or worse than the usual Iranian diatribes, and the European diplomats left, being embraced and cheered by Jewish students, NGO leaders and human rights mentors Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz.

Good sign, I’d say. What do you think oao? Among other things it shows how clueless the anti-Zionist party. They are so used to getting away with saying anything, that they make mistakes like this. Ahmadinejad, who was messianically proud that no one blinked when he spoke at the UN in NYC, had a distinctly different reception.

These momentous events took place on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Citing the theme “never again,” participants agreed that this should also mark the end of the Durban process that began at the infamous UN anti-racism conference in that city in 2001. Instead of focusing on real examples of discrimination and mass murder, that event had been hijacked to attack Israel using terms such as apartheid, war crimes and racism. In the official NGO forum, participants that included Human Rights Watch and Amnesty adopted a boycott strategy.

Israel and Jews around the world recognized that this demonization and delegitimation was as dangerous as the physical war and terror campaigns, and in some ways more sinister. For the past eight years, a strategy was developed to combat and defeat the threat. In Geneva, this approach proved successful.

Is proving successful. Don’t jump the gun. Four days to go. Our foes may be stupidly overconfident, but they are nothing if not determined.

Ahmadinejad’s appearance was not a scenario in this strategy – his visit had been announced just one week before the opening session, by which time most of the counterattack mechanism was already in place. The first stage was to prevent another poisonous NGO Forum by “naming and shaming” the funders of the 2001 version, including the Ford Foundation and the Canadian government. UN officials agreed not to grant official sponsorship despite demands from vitriolic NGOs such as Badil (the Palestinian “right of return” lobby funded by European governments) and the Libyan-linked North-South 21 organization. These events were still held, but with very limited participation or impact.

In parallel, during the long negotiations over the draft text for the government conference, Jewish community leaders and Israelis repeatedly held intensive meetings with Western democratic delegations to highlight the destructive impact of singling out Israel for condemnation in the Durban process. Canada, which had been a major supporter of Durban 2001, was the first to recognize the damage, and the US, Italy and others followed.

Thus, when the first session began, the point had been made and the chairs of many delegations were empty, even before Ahmadinejad’s arrival. In addition, the language of the draft declaration that required months of detailed negotiations was largely toned down. The main problem, as President Obama eloquently stated on the evening before the grand opening, was that the entire process had been built on the failed foundations of the 2001 Durban catastrophe. In that case, what had been advertised as an anti-racism conference became a source of racism directed at Israel. To restore the moral foundation of universal human rights, an entirely new structure would be necessary.

In this sense, the Iranian president’s latest hate speech confirmed to all that the Durban process must be totally repudiated before a new foundation for human rights can emerge. This conference has only begun – it is due to continue through Thursday – but Ahmadinejad has already demonstrated that there is no sense in holding any more diplomatic negotiations to find language that involves singling out Israel in any way. Instead, the focus should shift to developing an entirely new approach that prevents further abuses of moral principles by regimes or NGOs that exploit human rights. The sooner the Durban process is dead and buried, the faster a replacement will be developed.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg is executive director of NGO Monitor and chair of the Political Science Department at Bar Ilan University.

Ann Bayefsky was somewhat less sanguine about the meaning of the walkout:

Durban Diary, day one: Ahmadinejad’s ugly entrance
BY ANNE BAYEFSKY
Monday, April 20th 2009, 8:04 PM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s appearance in Geneva Monday at the UN’s so-called anti-racism conference, Durban II, made the point better than anyone else. The UN’s idea of combating racism and xenophobia is to encourage more of it. Ahmadinejad was the very first speaker as the substantive session opened. Handed a global megaphone by the UN, out flowed unadulterated hate speech.

The phenomenon was astonishing. The UN provided a platform for a virulent antisemite on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. In the name of fighting intolerance, they translated his words into six languages and broadcast them around the world. As he entered the grand room at the UN’s Palais Wilson, he was met by a round of applause. And this is what he said.

He began by denying the Holocaust: The “Zionist regime” had been created “on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the ambiguous and dubious question of holocaust.”

And he continued with a genocidal agenda: “the egoist and uncivilized Zionism have been able to deeply penetrate into their political and economic structure including their legislation, mass media, companies, financial systems, and their security and intelligence agencies. They have imposed their domination to the extent that nothing can be done against their will. As long as they are at the helm of power, justice will never prevail in the world. It is time the ideal of Zionism, which is the paragon of racism, to be broken. The world Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuse religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces.”

Note the extraordinary projection involved in this formulation: a movement that personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuse religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces is a pretty good description of many current forms of Islam, including and especially Ahmadinejad’s variety. Hard to find a better illustration of demopathy. Add to this the appalling fact that this Durban Review Conference is trying to outlaw criticism of Islam — i.e., to hide its “hatred and ugly faces.”

As he spoke, the European Union countries that had not withdrawn earlier finally stood up and walked out. But they didn’t really understand what had just happened at all, for when he was finished, all but the Czech Republic went right back in.

France? Kushner? Alas!

Ten countries have now boycotted this second Durban hatefest: Canada, Israel, the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. The rest of the world remains inside, providing legitimacy to a forum for hatemongering. They are under the impression that there is no lasting damage being done here either to the credibility of the institutional host or to the cause of protecting human rights. They are wrong.

Why does this remind me of Obama’s arguing that “hey, their military is puny, what damage can I do to American interests by my warm encounter with Chavez?”

And the real victims of human rights are all the poorer for it.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, editor of eyeontheun.org and a professor at Touro College.

30 Responses to Ahmadinejad’s Folly: Steinberg and Bayefsky on the First Day of Durban

  1. KN says:

    It’s misleading to say that ‘Canada’ was shamed into not supporting Durban II. It’s merely that a conservative government is in power there now. If the liberals or socialists were in charge Canada would have attended again without a trace of shame.

    Don’t credit ‘Canada.’ Credit conservatives.

  2. obsy says:

    Maybe I didn’t understand correctly the sentence above about amnesty and hrw, but that does not sound like a boycott:

    (Geneva) – Governments attending a UN racism conference used by Iran’s president to give a hate-filled speech should respond by staying to ensure that the conference agrees on a strong anti-racism message, Human Rights Watch said today.

    Human Rights Watch urged the European Union member states and other delegations that walked out during the Ahmadinejad speech to return to the chamber and work together to adopt the draft declaration against racism.

    The draft document, adopted after preparatory negotiations chaired by Russia, contains no reference to Israel or the Middle East and rejects the dangerous concept that religions, as opposed to individuals, could be defamed or have their rights violated. It also reaffirms the tragedy of the Holocaust and condemns anti-Semitism. In addition, it fully protects the right to freedom of expression as defined under international law, affirms and strengthens the call for the protection of migrants’ rights, and acknowledges multiple and aggravated forms of discrimination.

    “Despite this ugly speech, governments can still rescue the conference and ensure that the world agrees to a strong mandate for the UN to tackle racism,” de Rivero said.

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/04/20/un-racism-conference-defeat-bigotry-standing-ground

  3. obsy says:

    As long as those people do not recognize that even the concept of the UN is extremely evil they will never get it right.

    Imagine a prison where the decisions are made democratically and everyone’s voice has the same weight – no matter whether it is a guard’s or an inmate’s voice.

    What wonderful conclusions this system would produce!
    Almost as the UN.

    There are too many rogue states out there. Also alliances as the Ummah, tacticians like the Russians or natural resource junkies like China or many western states.

  4. oao says:

    Good sign, I’d say. What do you think oao?

    as you may suspect, such symbolic gestures stopped impressing me a long time ago. the west has put itself in a situation where had they not left they would have been the laughing stock, so they had to not because the real reasons, but to save whatever little credibility they had.

    when they stop participating in this crap, take ACTIONS to stop iranian threats and jihad, then I’ll sit up and notice. until then, it’s collapse all over with faint attempts to make the impression that’s not true.

    To restore the moral foundation of universal human rights, an entirely new structure would be necessary.

    exactly. when that happens, check with me.

    But they didn’t really understand what had just happened at all, for when he was finished, all but the Czech Republic went right back in.

    see what i mean?

    Why does this remind me of Obama’s arguing that “hey, their military is puny, what damage can I do to American interests by my warm encounter with Chavez?”

    i think alibama is an accurate representative of the american people and they deserve whom they elected and the consequences that will flow from that. maybe this will be a sufficient shock to make them understand what they did, but i still doubt it.

  5. [...] Richard Landes bestätigt anhand der Kritik von Anne Bayefsky an der UNO, den Teilnehmerstaaten und Ahmadinedschads Rede, was ich schon länger sage: Die Antisemiten des Nahen Ostens (wie auch die sonstigen Israelhasser) werfen dem jüdischen Staat (und seinen Unterstützern) vor, was sie selbst veranstalten. In der Psychologie wird das Projektion genannt. [...]

  6. obsy says:

    Barry Rubin writes:

    It seems as if the walk-out only disguises the fact that Ahmadinejad won. After going back to the meeting, all the participating European (and other) states then accepted the final declaration, made before the meeting, which blames only one country in the world for racism and oppression: Israel.

    In effect, they adopted a resolution largely drafted by Ahmadinejad (the Iranian delegation along with such human rights’ paragons as Cuba, Syria, and Libya) and which accepts Ahmadinejad’s world view.

    The day after Ahmadinejad’s speech, the delegates elected Iran as one of three vice-chairs of the committee accepting the final declaration. The meeting took 15 minutes. No debate permitted.

    The conference adopted as its final resolution–even before it ended–a resolution drawn up beforehand. Those most shaping the wording of this resolution were Iran, Cuba, Libya, and
    Syria mostly and they got into the resolution what they wanted. Democratic states did not fight very hard in the preliminary meetings to frame it.

    The key, and controversial, point was to affirm the resolution of the original Durban meeting. In other words, and this is what Iran wanted, the Durban-2 meeting reaffirmed all the attacks on Israel contained in the Durban-1 meeting. I have not heard about any states refusing to accept the resolution but will keep watching.

    Countries that walked out (temporarily, of course, they are still attending the conference and to some extent the walk-out is a cover for their participation.

    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2009/04/who-walked-who-applauded.html

  7. Eliyahu says:

    obsy, from what I read, the Czech Republic did not go back in after walking out.

  8. [...] bei der Bildung junger Muslime in einigen EU-Ländern – äh, wie war das noch mit der Projektion? (Das klingt irgendwie… das klingt doch stark nach der Islamischen Republik [...]

  9. obsy says:

    The walkout came after Ahmadinejad accused Western nations of complicity in violence against Palestinians surrounding the foundation of Israel.

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=7386880

  10. obsy says:

    Eliyahu, yes the Czechs are excused.

    But as far as I know, all the other countries listened to Riyad al-Maliki’s antisemitism the next day without walking out or even protesting.

  11. oao says:

    The walkout came after Ahmadinejad accused Western nations of complicity in violence against Palestinians surrounding the foundation of Israel.

    iow, they did not leave because of anti-semitism, but because he accused THEM of founding israel. figures.

  12. Cynic says:

    Amadjihad got what he came for. A rubber stamp of approval for Durban I.
    He just added some spice to the party.

  13. Lorenz Gude says:

    Quite frankly I think the very idea of “universal human rights” is so imbalanced that it leads to this kind of shadow behavior. It is a chromium plated case of the perfect driving out the good. The French Revolution is an often cited example of good going to hell. A noble attempt to end oppression turning into terror. Colonialism and post colonialism are following a similar trajectory. In the Durban process we at the stage where the mob calls for more heads to roll. In the bell shaped curve of human misery most of us dish out and receive an average ration in the course of a lifetime. We can aspire to one end of the curve or the other but most of us will not rise to the heights of either an Ahmadinejad or a St Francis. Before it was deemed too anthropocentric, this predicament was referred to as the human condition.

  14. Eliyahu says:

    LG, your analogy to the French Rev fits pretty well.

  15. Lorenz Gude says:

    Thanks, Eliyahu…there is something about reform degenerating into extremism. I’ve seen it in Zimbabwe first hand where Mugabe started out reasonably well, and is ending so badly it is mind numbing. Another aspect of the Durban process is that it also resembles Stalinist theater with genocidal racism promoted in the name of anti racism.

  16. Cynic says:

    I’ve seen it in Zimbabwe first hand where Mugabe started out reasonably well, and is ending so badly it is mind numbing.

    We watched in horror his murderous policy against Nkomo and the Matabele, but we were pessimists and oh so “out” in contrast to whatever one wants to consider what the West’s policy was in those days!

    One should consider also how the British manipulated events against Muzorewa and permitted Mugabe with his intimidation to gain control of Rhodesia.

  17. oao says:

    there is something about reform degenerating into extremism.

    it was the french revolution, not a french reform. revolutions tend to turn extreme, because there are usually extreme circumstances which produce them. that’s why they’re called revolutions. they also turn on their own because revolutionaries don’t have a very good concept of when to stop — they are defined and wrapped up in the revolution and know nothing else.
    woody allen in bananas has a good picture of that.

  18. oao says:

    We watched in horror his murderous policy against Nkomo and the Matabele, but we were pessimists and oh so “out” in contrast to whatever one wants to consider what the West’s policy was in those days!

    that’s a good example. his revolution was anti-white but he didn’t stop there and continued against his black competitors too.

    what the West’s policy was in those days!

    as usual the west’s policy was not have a policy. after all, no jews were involved. and africa? who cares.

  19. [...] TheAugeanStables  What’s Going on Here? / Ahmadinejad’s Folly: Steinberg and Bayefsky on the First Day of Durban [...]

  20. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic, you recall maybe that Idi Amin had a British advisor named Major Bob Astles?? That was at the height of Amin’s agitation against whites and Asians –as well as against Israel, the more remote enemy.

    The UK sure packs a dynamite punch in world diplomacy. They don’t have to deliver a punch directly themselves. Rather they specialize in the strategy of “Let’s you and him fight.” You could see their current efforts in favor of defumigating Hamas and making it a diplomatic “player” in that light. See link:

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2009/04/uk-nazi-sympathizers-lead-euro-pack-in.html

  21. Cynic says:

    Eliyahu,

    On the odd occasion I’ve tried with friends to dream up a “what-if” situation where Britain did not meddle in other parts of the world and colonialise and destroy native societies.
    Too many parameters considering the complexities of economics, social and psychological ordering and cultural differences to do any justice to the exercise; but what seems apparent is that the world would be a lot calmer.
    Certainly the carving out of nation states of opposing tribes would not have been carried out in Africa.

    Robert Ardrey in one of his books (African Genesis) mentioned that during a talk he was giving in Chicago it suddenly dawned on him why the Piltdown hoax was so successful; for the British the first large brained bi-pedal animal (homo erectus) had to be British.

  22. oao says:

    The UK sure packs a dynamite punch in world diplomacy.

    aren’t you glad that the uk is a miserable banktruptcy rather than an empire? their islamist is richly deserved.

  23. oao says:

    Certainly the carving out of nation states of opposing tribes would not have been carried out in Africa.

    how about the ME and particularly PAKISTAN, given what it’s happening now there?

  24. Cynic says:

    how about the ME and particularly PAKISTAN, given what it’s happening now there?

    Africa was just an introduction and I didn’t think I needed to list all British colonial atrocities.

    As for Pakistan, who wailed at the millions of Bengals slaughtered in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, by Pakistan after 1949? It was much more than Rwanda or Darfur; so maybe things are improving?

    The Belgians certainly had a field day in Central Africa and of course what those Spaniards did in Central and South America……

  25. oao says:

    Africa was just an introduction and I didn’t think I needed to list all British colonial atrocities.

    but the consequences of their mistakes are much worse in the me and pakistan.

    The Belgians certainly had a field day in Central Africa and of course what those Spaniards did in Central and South America……

    but it’s the jews who are the nazis and the colonizers.

  26. Cynic says:

    but it’s the jews who are the nazis and the colonizers.

    of course because they, those who are pointing fingers, have to “drown out” the noise of their misdeeds.

  27. oao says:

    of course because they, those who are pointing fingers, have to “drown out” the noise of their misdeeds.

    i’m sure you know i know the mechanism only too well.

  28. Cynic says:

    I just added a chorus. :-)

    Then again maybe there are some reading for the first time and are unfamiliar with the psychology of human behaviour.

  29. Avril says:

    You said: “The conference adopted as its final resolution–even before it ended–a resolution drawn up beforehand. Those most shaping the wording of this resolution were Iran, Cuba, Libya, and Syria mostly and they got into the resolution what they wanted.
    My comment: How interesting is it now that Iran, Libya and Syria are in a turmoil with people killed by their own armies, for demanding human rights while their putrid leaders sit tight holding on with all their might to power. Instead of us sending bombs over the border, we should send mirrors, so that these hatemongers could see themselves as they really are.

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