The world has truly become a theater of the absurd when Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad is considered a welcome guest at the UN-sponsored conference on racism that opens today in Geneva. Of course, the conference itself promises to make a mockery of the very concepts of the ideals that it purports to be combating, given that in all likelihood, it will once again turn into an anti-Semitic Israel-bashing session similar to that which occurred during the previous UN racism conference, held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa.
During the first Durban conference, Israel was repeatedly singled out and demonized as systematic human rights abuses and acts of racism in countries around the world were not even on the radar. One would think that Russia was beneficent towards breakaway Soviet Republics, that China offered government support for the Falun Gong and press freedoms for foreign journalists during the Olympics, that Turkish citizens were allowed to “insult Turkishness”, and that Africa was a bastion of democracy. One would think that women in Iran were given the same rights as men (which, if we are being honest here, do not amount to much in any case), that Iranian bloggers were not living in fear of their government (or dying in solitude in Iranian prisons), that Iranian citizens with dual citizenship were not being thrown in jail for spying on a regular basis.
There’s no question that racism exists in Israel, and anyone who says otherwise is, at best, naïve. Our track record with regard to Arab-Israelis is dismal, and at times, our treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has left me feeling utterly ashamed and mortified. However – and that would be a huge however, Israel is by no means the worst offender. Israelis do not go on violent rampages whenever Judaism or Israel are insulted, we do not burn down embassies of those who offend us. We cry foul when virulently anti-Semitic cartoons are published in newspapers, but we do not threaten the lives of the artists or the newspaper editors. Our leaders do not make it a habit of demanding that other countries be wiped off the map, and if they did, I daresay they would not be asked to address conferences dedicated to fighting racism.
What kind of legitimacy can be granted to such a conference when the leader of one of the most repressive, fanatic regimes in the world uses the conference podium for the singular purpose of vilifying another country? How can we expect the outcome of “Durban 2” to be any different from the outcome of the previous conference, given the sadly predictable nature of Ahmadinejad’s speech earlier today? The walkout by Western delegates means very little – a pathetic show of symbolism that does nothing to lessen the hypocrisy of giving the Iranian president a platform in the first place. The very act of allowing him to speak has destroyed any remaining notions of conference credibility, and anyone who believes otherwise is setting themselves up for disappointment. There can be neither credibility nor legitimacy in such an atmosphere of hate and intolerance, nor can any true solutions be found. And needless to say, having one of the world’s most outspoken Holocaust deniers addressing a global racism conference on Holocaust Remembrance Day pretty much says it all, really.by Liza Rosenberg
While I don’t often write about the state of my attire (besides, one can only say so much about jeans and black tops…), I’m feeling rather pleased, given that my attire of choice today would definitely have to be Pajamas.
Check out the article I wrote about my recent UN coup.by Liza Rosenberg
Late last week, I posted two blog entries about a rather disturbing error on an official UN web site. I mentioned the story to a journalist friend, who agreed with me that it was indeed newsworthy, and promptly wrote an article about the unfolding of these events.by Liza Rosenberg
Following yesterday’s post, I’m happy to announce that I received a follow-up email last night from my contact at the United Nations, letting me know that the text in question had been fixed. It now reads,
“The Lebanese Republic is a small, mostly mountainous country in the Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south.”
So, dear readers, we have effected change.by Liza Rosenberg
Looks like the UN (or, to be more specific, the United Nations Development Programme) are at it once again. According to this link, passed on by friend and commenter Nicole,
“The Lebanese Republic is a small, mostly mountainous country in the Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Palestine to the south.”
The UNDP purports to be”the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life,” and it would seem that some of their colleagues on the ground in Lebanon are advocating a change of their own, taking liberties with regard to content by listing Palestine as its neighbor to the south.
While such text may be the work of local writers with obvious interests, the bottom line is that the UNDP is a UN-affiliated program, and as such, one would expect that content on an official UN website would reflect the official position of the organization (the official position being, of course, that the country bordering Lebanon to the south is Israel), and not local biases on the ground. It is disturbing (though sadly, not terribly surprising), that such content should be displayed, either as the result of oversight or other, more questionable reasons. In any event, such “mistakes” are simply unacceptable.
Let the UNDP know your thoughts on the subject. I have…
UPDATE 1: It seems that the above text about Lebanon is rather similar to the Lebanon entry in Wikipedia. Similar, but not identical, given that Wikipedia mentions Israel as the country to Lebanon’s south. (Thanks again, Nicole!)
UPDATE 2: The response I’ve received from the UNDP is as follows:
Thanks for your message.
We appreciate your interest in our work and thank you for bringing this error to our attention.
We have taken immediate action and I have been assured that corrective measures will be taken soonest.
Needless to say, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this to see if they follow through.
Update 3: The text in question was fixed as of Thursday evening, Israel time. I’ve written a new post on the subject here.by Liza Rosenberg
- Not carefully or expertly made; “managed to make a crude splint”; “a crude cabin of logs with bark still on them”; “rough carpentry”
- Conspicuously and tastelessly indecent; “coarse language”; “a crude joke”; “crude behavior”; “an earthy sense of humor”; “a revoltingly gross expletive”; “a vulgar gesture”; “full of language so vulgar it should have been edited”
- Not refined or processed; “unrefined ore”; “crude oil” [syn: unrefined] [ant: processed]
- Belonging to an early stage of technical development; characterized by simplicity and (often) crudeness; “the crude weapons and rude agricultural implements of early man”; “primitive movies of the 1890s”; “primitive living conditions in the Appalachian mountains”
- Devoid of any qualifications or disguise or adornment; “the blunt truth”; “the crude facts”; “facing the stark reality of the deadline” [syn: blunt]
- Not processed or subjected to analysis; “raw data”; “the raw cost of production”; “only the crude vital statistics”
- Not producing an intended effect; “an ineffective teacher”; “ineffective legislation” [ant: effective]
- Lacking in power or forcefulness; “an ineffectual ruler”; “like an unable phoenix in hot ashes”
- Lacking the ability or skill to perform effectively; inadequate; “an ineffective administration”; “inefficient workers”
- Belonging to an early stage of technical development; characterized by simplicity and (often) crudeness; “the crude weapons and rude agricultural implements of early man”; “primitive movies of the 1890s”; “primitive living conditions in the Appalachian mountains” [syn: crude]
- Little evolved from or characteristic of an earlier ancestral type; “archaic forms of life”; “primitive mammals”; “the okapi is a short-necked primitive cousin of the giraffe” [syn: archaic]
- Used of preliterate or tribal or nonindustrial societies; “primitive societies”
- Of or created by one without formal training; simple or naive in style; “primitive art such as that by Grandma Moses is often colorful and striking”
I found these definitions online at Dictionary.com. I was hoping to find definitions that correlated with the description that’s been used ad nauseum whenever Qassams are mentioned (such as in this BBC article, or this News Blaze article) in order to justify either the casual dismissal of ongoing rocket attacks in Southern Israel or the usual banter about disproportionate responses, but I just couldn’t seem to find any definitions that said “crude, yet effective, and frequently with devastating results”. When up to 94% of children in Sderot are exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, when little boys are losing limbs, when a father of four loses his life, terms like “crude”, “ineffective”, and “primitive” seem rather trivial and irrelevant.
And yet, the world at large falls into the same trap time and time again. Hamas and other local terror groups fire rockets into Israel, and world leaders call for Israel to exercise restraint. More and more rockets are fired; damage is heavy and children are traumatized, but because the rockets are “crude” and “primitive”, they apparently don’t count. How many rockets must be fired before we are allowed to respond? And as long as we’re discussing this issue, just so that we’ll have a better idea, what exactly would be an appropriate response to the thousands of rockets that have been fired into our southern cities and towns during the past eight years, not to mention the occasional cross-border sniper attacks, hmmm? We acquiesce to global pressure and continue to “show restraint”, though not without the Prime Minister or one of his henchmen making some silly comment that “we will find the perpetrators of these attacks”, or that “no terrorist will be safe”, or “we reserve the right to respond to these attacks on our citizens, and will do so when the time is right” (which of course hasn’t really happened, given that Knesset members all seem far too busy squabbling over the diversion of funds to protect the inhabitants of Sderot without actually taking any action on the matter).
When the situation escalates to the point of being intolerable (though clearly, the definition of intolerable seems to differ whether one is based in Sderot or in the Knesset), Israel finally takes action. EU and UN personnel are roused out of the long slumber they were clearly enjoying while rockets rained down and Israel did nothing, and suddenly, 8000 rockets later, the world is incensed that Israel has the audacity to retaliate. With sad predictability, we are reviled and demonized for daring to try to protect ourselves, and Hamas scores extra credit points for managing to chip away at the remaining shreds of support among left-leaning Israelis who can no longer be bothered to summon up the energy to care. It’s just too difficult to feel sympathy for the other side’s losses anymore when the world can’t seem to summon up the energy to care about us when we sit back and allow ourselves to be relentlessly pounded.
I guess nothing says global unity like hanging Israel out to dry…by Liza Rosenberg