diplomacy

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The following article appeared in the Jerusalem Post on the last day of August.

Things are certainly hotting up in the war of words between Israel and Iran.  According to the article, Netanyahu’s strong words are a response to the ‘anti-Semitic diatribe’ of Ayatollah Khamenei at the ‘Non-Aligned Meeting’ summit that just concluded in Tehran.

Personally, I’m not sure what the term ‘anti-Semitic’ here is intended to refer to. ‘Antisemitism’ would suggest that Khamenei is condemning the Israelis on the basis of their race or ethnicity, wouldn’t it? If the reference is to the quotes from the Ayatollah’s speech that appear in the article, I can’t see anything ‘anti-Semitic’ in them. Certainly the Ayatollah is condemning the crimes committed against the people of Palestine by the Israeli government (and rightly so) but there is surely nothing racist about that in itself? Perhaps there was other material in his speech that was overtly racist? I am open to be convinced.

Perhaps it’s the term ‘Zionist regime’ that is being taken as being anti-Semitic? I’m not sure. Certainly when media commentators speak of the ‘Assad regime’ in Syria they are not being accused of being racist or ‘anti-Syrian’ or wanting the country of Syria to disappear from the map. Feel free to educate me with your comments if you understand this better than I do.

Father Dave

PM to ‘speak the truth’ on Iran in UN speech

Netanyahu denounces Non-Aligned Movement’s silence on Iranian “blood libel”; Khamanei accuses “Zionist wolves” of “state terror.”

After two-thirds of the world’s countries listened silently Thursday to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launch an anti-Semitic diatribe against Israel at the Non-Aligned Meeting summit in Tehran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced he would respond at the UN General Assembly next month.

“In Tehran today, the representatives of 120 countries heard a blood libel against the State of Israel and were silent. This silence must stop,” Netanyahu said.

“Therefore, I will go to the UN General Assembly and, in a clear voice, tell the nations of the world the truth about Iran’s terrorist regime, which constitutes the greatest threat to world peace.”

Khamenei, speaking to the NAM gathering that included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said “an independent country with a clear historical identity called ‘Palestine’ has been taken away from its people through the use of weapons, killings and deception, and has been given to a group of people the majority of whom are immigrants from European countries.

“This great usurpation – which at the outset was accompanied by massacres of defenseless people in towns and villages and their expulsion from their homes and homeland to bordering countries – has continued for more than six decades with similar crimes and continues to this very day.”

Khamenei said the political and military leaders of the “usurping Zionist regime” killed the people, destroyed their homes and farms, arrested and tortured men, women and children, humiliated and insulted the Palestinians and tried to digest it all into the “usury-eating stomach of the Zionist regime.”

“Even now after 65 years the same kind of crimes marks the treatment of Palestinians remaining in the occupied territories by the blood-thirsty Zionist wolves.

They commit new crimes one after the other and create new crises for the region,” he continued.

Khamenei said the Zionists controlled the world’s media and were responsible for America’s “hateful image” in the region.

“Our standpoint is that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians and that continuing its occupation is a great and intolerable injustice and a major threat to global peace and security,” he said. Khamenei called for a referendum among all the Palestinians – “both the current citizens of Palestine and those who have been forced to immigrate to other countries but have preserved their Palestinian identity, including Muslims, Christians and Jews” – to chose the country’s political system.

Ban, whose presence at the parley is widely seen in Jerusalem as giving legitimacy to the Iranian regime, addressed the gathering and said he “strongly” rejected threats by one UN member state to destroy another, and “outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust.

Claiming that another UN member state, Israel, does not have the right to exist, or describing it in racist terms, is not only utterly wrong but undermines the very principles we have all pledged to uphold.”

His words, however, did little to soothe Israeli anger at his very participation in the event.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, at a gathering in Jerusalem marking 60 years of Israeli-Japanese ties, characterized the event in Tehran as “a march of folly and hypocrisy not seen since the 1930s. Against the background of all the threats to destroy the State of Israel, erase the State of Israel, attack Jews wherever they are, we see the representatives of 120 counties, with the UN secretary- general, come to Iran and give legitimacy to the regime of the ayatollahs.”

Liberman asked what Israel was supposed to understand from the willingness of so many world leaders to take part in the conference, and how this would impact on the future.

“How can we rely on them,” he asked. “What is the meaning of international guarantees of our security?” Liberman slammed the Palestinian Authority presence at the conference.

He said that a speech delivered by PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki – accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and crimes against humanity – could have been written by Joseph Goebbels.

Maliki said Israel had stepped up military attacks against Palestinians and the sources of their livelihood.

“To the military attacks have now been added violent, provoking and inciting attacks by settlers through organized and systematic terror, which recalls the bloody events taken by the settler and armed gangs – like the Hagana and others – during the Nakba in 1948.”

Netanyahu, meanwhile, is scheduled to leave for the UN on September 27, immediately after Yom Kippur, and return to Israel on September 30, just before the onset of Succot.

Although there has been talk of a meeting at the UN with US President Barack Obama, no meeting has yet been officially announced.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday that he did not want to be “complicit” if Israel chose to strike Iran’s nuclear program, saying a premature attack would dissolve the international pressure on the Islamic Republic, The Guardian reported.

Speaking to journalists in London, Dempsey said an attack would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” but added that the “international coalition” pressuring Iran “could be undone if it was attacked prematurely.”

“I don’t want to be complicit if [Israel] chooses to do it,” he added.

The White House said on Thursday that it was closely studying a UN report that showed Iran has possibly expanded uranium enrichment machines and increased stockpiles of nuclear material.

“We are closely studying the details of the report, but broadly speaking it is not surprising that Iran is continuing to violate its obligations,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked about the UN International Atomic Energy Agency’s quarterly report on Iran.

“As the report illustrates, we are in a position to closely observe Iran’s program,” he said.

The report showed Iran has doubled the number of uranium enrichment machines it has in an underground bunker. Carney said the US has made it clear to Iran that they have a limited window of time to stop its atomic work and diplomatic terms offered by the Western world will not remain open “indefinitely.”

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Father Roy writes:  This article was published in today’s Jerusalem Post.  The highlights are mine.  The meeting will take place from August 29 – 31.   

Peace, Roy 

UN chief announces he will attend Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran despite US and Israeli opposition.

08/22/2012

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s decision Wednesday to go to Tehran for the Non-Aligned Movement’s (NAM) summit will make it more difficult for him and others to convince Israel to give diplomacy more time in dealing with Iran, government officials said.

The official said this was a “bad day for all those who wanted to see the exercise of vibrant diplomacy” end the Iranian crisis, because Ban’s visit will decrease Iran’s isolation and render hollow the argument that all peaceful means are being used – including diplomatic isolation – to press Tehran.

“This undermines the diplomatic pressure,” the official said. “Iran will view this as a victory, and say that as a result they are not isolated.

On the contrary, the leadership will be able to tell their people that international leaders are visiting their capital.”

By deciding to attend the conference, Ban has turned a deaf ear to direct appeals from the US and Israel, who urged him not to go.

A statement issued by his office said Ban will visit Tehran from August 29-31 and “looks forward” to the summit and working with the visiting leaders, “including the host country,” towards solutions on issues that are “central to the global agenda.”

The statement said Ban “takes seriously his responsibility and that of the United Nations to pursue diplomatic engagement with all of its member states in the interest of peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security.”

His decision to attend the conference comes just days after he condemned the Iranian leadership’s recent “offensive and inflammatory” comments about Israel.

“The secretary-general is dismayed by the remarks threatening Israel’s existence attributed over the last two days to the supreme leader and the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the UN press office said over the weekend.

Wednesday’s statement said that Ban would use his visit to “convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent, for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people. These include Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a phone conversation with Ban two weeks ago, implored him to stay away from the conference, saying his presence would grant legitimacy to the regime at a time when it needed to be isolated. He said Ban’s visit now would be a “horrible mistake” that would forever stain both Ban and the UN.
“Mr. Secretary-General, your place is not in Tehran,” Netanyahu told Ban.

Netanyahu came under some criticism at the time for publicizing what he said in the conversation. Some also argued that he backed Ban into a corner, and that if the secretary-general then decided not to go he would appear to be doing Israel’s bidding.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office rejected that criticism, saying it was important to make this message public and that Netanyahu did not violate any diplomatic codes by making public what he – not what Ban – said in the conversation.

On Monday US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also called on Ban to stay away from the conference.

“Iran is going to try to manipulate this NAM summit and the attendees to advance its own agenda, and to obscure the fact that it is failing to live up to multiple obligations that it has to the UN Security Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international bodies,” she said.

Indeed, Iran’s official FARS news agency quoted the vicechairman of the parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, Mansour Haqiqatpour, as saying the summit “will promote the Islamic Republic’s political face and also serve as a good political backup for Iran in its future talks” with the world powers negotiating over the nuclear program.

He also said the summit would boost the Iranian economy, and that the presence of senior world officials would “prepare the bed for bilateral and multilateral negotiations to help Iran bypass the [Western] sanctions, establish joint banks, set up transportation and transit networks, and other areas of economic cooperation.”

Meanwhile, US Jewish organizations – which launched an effort to try and persuade Ban to stay away – slammed the decision to attend.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, issued a statement saying “we are stunned” that Ban “would honor a regime that consistently ignores both him and the world body he heads in ways that threaten regional and global security.”

Iran, at the meeting, will assume the rotating chairmanship of the 120-member organization for the next three years.