Tag Archives: Palestine

UN Side-Events: The silencing of Palestinian NGOs

Badil[Pictured from left: Ingrid Jaradat Gassner of Badil, Maysa Zorob of Al Haq, and Harley Eagle of the Mennonite Central Committee] According to the United Nations website:

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has organized a series of events and cultural activities during the Durban Review Conference to highlight the issues being discussed at the conference.

Under themes such as the rights of indigenous peoples, the link between racism and poverty, and policing in diverse societies, the side events organized by OHCHR have enabled a large number of stakeholders to exchange views and share good practices on the issues at the heart of the Durban review process.

Non-governmental organizations and other civil society actors, such as victims’ groups and academics, are essential in combating all forms of racism and OHCHR has encouraged their participation in the review process.

To help showcase the activities of civil society actors, OHCHR also made several meeting rooms available for the organization of further side events for organizations accredited to take part in the Conference.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, the head of Palestinian residency and refugee rights group Badil. She told me they were called into the UN office a few weeks before the conference started and told that they could not hold side-events that were region-specific.

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Jews are aboriginals and the Christians love us.

Last night I went to a support Israel rally at the Plaza des Nations, the spot with the chair. Unlike the side-events inside organized by the UN Watch and Anne Bayefsky’s Eye on the UN/Hudson Institute, which have each escalated the rhetoric of demonization, this rally is a paragon of “positive messaging”. The message control is tight-no home made signs here. Nothing about Muslim terrorists. It’s all about wanting peace and democracy (versus, you know, them.) But I’m almost grateful. Nobody tries to whip up the crowd, a la Dershowitz, by declaring Palestinians Nazis and terrorists.

Everyone is crowded at the front, but when you stand in the back of the plaza, which isn’t that big, the place looks empty. I actually suddenly share  a sense of communal anxiety for the Jews in the crowd (well, at least half the crowd, the others are Christians, it turns out). It’s a metaphor for living in Europe. There really aren’t that many of us left and it is easy to feel threatened and tiny, so we project bigger and scarier. My Jewish friend who lives here has been telling me about the anti-Jewish comments she has heard from the white Swiss- the Jews control this, we do that.

I get there just as former Canadian attorney general Irwin Cotler is speaking. He has been ubiquitous at the conference. I am rather astounded by what he is saying. Jews are aboriginal people. This is the first time I’ve heard this formulation, though it makes sense to try it at a conference where indigenous people are pressing for their rights. But I’m not sure the people in the crowd really go for it. Here is what he has written about the topic:

For Israel, rooted in the Jewish people, as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrahamic religions. Continue reading

Entire world captivated by civil society groups!

Here’s the media gallery at the UN today when the civil society groups from around the world that work on racism and various forms of discrimination finally get to speak- each gets 3 minutes.

Of course, the outcome document was actually voted on and finalized yesterday, so these speeches, the moment for which some NGOs have been preparing all year, are merely symbolic, if that.

I have now heard from 2 sources that the French were about to bolt (presumably because of Ahmedinejad and the larger campaign against the conference) so they quickly voted on the document early before hemorrhaging more countries. It’s just one more way that a conference about racism has ended up being a conference about Israel.

I spoke to one delegate of African descent who told me about an earlier meeting with the NGOs and the general commissioner. The biggest applause line was after one delegate got up to call out the ways the conference had been hijacked by the Israel lobbyists here, resulting in the marginalization of everyone else’s voices.”They have made few friends here,” she says.

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Pt. II Dershowitz et al, “The worst two hours of my life.”

That’s what a Palestinian friend from the West Bank said after what was at times a hateful, nasty 2-hour long harangue by Anne Bayefsky, Jon Voight, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Natan Sharansky and Shelby Steele. “I just listened to 2 hours of demonization of Palestinians and Muslims fueled by racism and hate,” said my clearly shaken friend.

I already posted some choice quotes by Jon-the-new-Holocaust-Voight. The tour de force of the session, ostensibly on anti-semitism but really promoting anti-Arab/Palestinian/Muslim hate, was Alan Dershowitz. (Although conservative African American scholar Shelby Steele, who gets plenty of applause from a room  filled with white people, reaches a whole new depth in his theory about the end of white supremacy and the deep shame of people of color regarding their own inadequacies.)

Dershowitz is the schoolyard bully all grown-up, very smart and even angrier. Watching him, you feel like he might explode. Like all good demagogues, he knows how to whip up an audience at the most nasty applause lines. I admit it. I’m scared of him.

In the age of Obama and Iraq war exhaustion, the War on Terror clearly no longer provides the right wing Israel lobby with the umph it needs to delegitimize Palestinian claims for justice or, frankly, simple human decency. Here, Dershowitz launches a new frame. Netanyahu et al have been pushing the Hitler/Ahmedinejad comparison for some time now. But this is the first time I’ve heard such a sweeping condemnation of Palestinians (with a few exceptions of course, because Dersh “doesn’t like to generalize”) as Nazis. Excerpts from video above:

“Painful truths about the Holocaust today are being suppressed by college campuses, they’re being suppressed wherever the Palestinian conflict is being discussed. My painful job today is to talk about one of those very difficult historical truths that many would prefer to see ignored..

The terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy is that there is a direct unbroken line between Hitler and [the anti-semitic Palestinian Mufti} Husseini  on the one hand, and today Hamas and radical Islamic Jihadists on the other hand. They are the heirs of Hitler. Ahmedinejad their spoonsor is the heir of Hitler. Those who are complicit in that evil are complicit in the evil of  Nazism. Nazism has not disappeared from the world today. It has the same genocidal goals….

Woe unto any of you out there who support Hamas. You are supporting Hitler’s heirs. Whether you consider yourself a leftist or a centrist, you are complicit in the worst evil of the twentieth century. And there is no way of breaking that bond. As long as Hamas maintains its genocidal attitudes towards the Jewish people…

This conference is a hate fest. Like Nuremberg was a hate fest…

Durban I traces its roots to Nuremberg. It traces its roots to the Nazi-Husseini alliance.

There is a lot to say about his line of reasoning. In future posts.

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More Darfur propaganda

All NGO (non-governmental organization) literature has the name and contact information of the organization that published it. That is, after all, the whole idea. This literature, with absolutely nothing printed on the back, was left on the NGO tables at the Durban Review Conference. There is no name printed on the cards because they don’t want you to know who published them. Clearly the Darfur card, which uses a likely inflated figure, has not been printed by a Darfur advocacy group. It has been printed by one of the right-wing Israel advocacy groups. The objective is somewhat unclear. Not sure why they didn’t just write, “the UN doesn’t care” to continue their message.

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Stand with us: Exploiting Darfur and Jewish teenagers

Around 6, I leave the conference to catch the tram home. The stop is at the same plaza where the Holocaust Remembrance ceremony was last night. The place with the chair. I hear chanting and sure enough, there are the same kids from Monday who had the fake pro Human Rights signs. Scary right wing group Stand with Us (folks who have absolutely nothing to do with Darfur) is boasting about their good work.

Only now, they have switched outfits, different signs (except for a few), and Darfurian friends. At least in front. Behind them there appear to be numerous handlers. The grownups, if you will. The kids are from the French and European Unions of Students. I feel sorry for them. I bet most of them are real idealists. They have no idea that they, like the Darfurians, are being used as part of a hateful effort.

Now mind you, some of these kids have already done a major action today. Monday, Stand with Us handlers had them with duct tape and “human rights” posters, including the one with the fake photo of a Muslim woman being stoned.

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Must we Jews always see ourselves as victims?

Having endured a remarkable 2 hours in room ten at the UN today listening to Jon Voight, Alan Dershowitz and others explain how Hamas, Hezbollah and the Nazis are the same; Achmadinejad and Hitler are the same, and that we are now confronting a new Holocaust (I’ll need to write this out in pieces, it was that painful), I have been struggling to find the words for the pathology that has helped unleash this tsunami here at the Review Conference. Far from boycotting, the Israeli proxies have taken over.

Before, I called the pathological denial of Palestinian humanity, let alone Palestinian suffering, “moral schizophrenia”, to borrow the term from IF Stone. But after today’s display from Dershowitz, Wiesel, Sharansky and others, I’ve decided we need a stronger term for this sickness. My friend Susie used the term “Shoahism” meaning the holocaust as your religion. But there’s more.

The mere mention of Palestinian suffering sends these people into paroxysms of defensiveness and even rage. They go on and on about Holocaust denial, but this phenomenon is cut of the same cloth. It is virtually impossible for them to hold both the narrative of their own suffering, and the narrative of Palestinian suffering. It’s as if they did, they might break in two right there in front of us.

Jewish Peace News’ Judith Norman and Alistair Welch offer this:

Antony Lerman, former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, addresses the question of why so many Jews, in Israel and around the world, seem blind to Palestinian suffering. The answer he gives – that many Jews see themselves as permanent victims – is not particularly new, but this article gives a particularly lucid account of this sense of victimhood and the effect it has in legitimating policies that lead to great suffering for Palestinians.

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Ahmadinejad’s speech: Why it was a disaster.

I was at Ahmadinejād’s speech yesterday, and I have the crappy photos from the media area to prove it. It was dramatic, to say the least. Counter-protesters yelled (and were removed) throughout; applause lines invariably left half the room silent; there was obviously over exuberant applause from the Iranian delegates which made you wonder, and at a dramatic but expected moment at the beginning, the European delegates walked out.

I’ll quote from Human Rights Watch’s statement and the NYT, because, with one major exception regarding the Times, they roughly match my response to the speech. But I’ll add that somewhere in the middle of his talk, I suddenly felt anxiety coursing through my body and actually thought, “I wonder if this is how wars get started?” It was just a feeling, and may have no basis in reality, but it should be absolutely clear that- at times soaring rhetoric aside- this man has absolutely no interest in authentic peace and justice. And I do not trust either my own government or Israel to not start bombing.

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Propaganda campaign uses young people for anti-UN photo op


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So hopefully by now, you’re getting the gist of the Israeli government’s campaign. They work closely with various NGOs that make up the pro-occupation/pro-Israel lobby. The Israel Project, for example, functions as a PR arm. There’s also NGO Monitor and UN Watch here in Geneva. The strategy is to discredit Durban, discredit the UN, discredit human rights organizations by actually using–but only in the most shallow way- the language of human rights. It’s brilliant and amoral. I talk to some racial justice activists from the United States (more later) who talk about how the anti-Semitism charge against Durban makes it almost impossible for them to even talk about their work on it. I realize I am witnessing a massive, coordinated re-branding campaign.

Example A, photos above and below: delegates encountered dozens of well-dressed young people standing in line formation for the cameras in front of the accreditations entrance at the UN today. I stopped and spoke to one of them. “What group are you with?” I asked. “We’re just a bunch of students from all over the world.” He struggles with English. “Are you working on Darfur?” I ask. Uncomfortable silence..”about the behavior of the United Nations with some problems with human rights. We protest, because it’s not normal….that nobody cares about that.”

I move on and there are dozens more. None of the signs mention the name of any sponsoring group. They’re just kids who have been told to stand there with these signs and duct tape on their mouths. It’s pretty clear they aren’t actually women’s and gay rights and Darfur activists. I wonder if they even know what the signs say, though they did get some sort of basic message training. It’s a good photo op, so the organizers have my admiration.

Still, it seems like a form of child abuse. Plus, of course, by weakening the conference and the UN, they are directly sabotaging the work of all the racial justice groups that have come here to work on substantive issues. It’s beyond cynical.

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Shalom International, pro-settler movement, joins Holocaust Remembrance event tonight

Radical pro-settler group, ironically named Shalom International, obviously hasn’t gone through The Israel Project’s rigorous media training. (Unlike the sharply dressed students who lined the boulevard today outside of the UN- a ready-made photo op, they held glossy posters condemning the UN’s silence on Darfur and Iranian human rights violations. Slick stuff. Ask them who they are, they’re trained not to tell you the truth. I’ll have photos and video later.) Here is Shalom International’s invitation to tonight’s Holocaust Remembrance Celebration with Elie Wiesel. I’m heading over now.

RALLY FOR ISRAEL & AGAINST DURBAN II

Remember the Holocaust and Protest Against the Jew Haters/Israel Haters at “Durban II” (UNazis) who want to finish what Hitler started.

Join Shalom International at “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.”

When & Where:
IN NEW YORK CITY:

April 19, 2 p.m. across from the UN at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th Street and First Avenue.

Contact: Bruce S. Ticker - 215-563-8553 or Bticker@comcast.net

April 20, at Noon, at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, sponsored by Stand With Us.

Contact: Avi Posnick - 212-398-2524

IN GENEVA, SWITZERLAND:

April 20 in the late afternoon (we join others)

Palaise de Nacions, Geneva, Switzerland

Remember the Holocaust when 6 million Jews and 5 million others were slaughtered by those with the same mentality as those cowards pushing Durban II.

REMEMBER: FROM HITLER TO HAMAS, HEZBOLLAH, SAUDI ARABIA, SYRIA AND IRAN, ETC., THE HOLOCAUST CONTINUES.

Better yet, here’s the letter they wrote to supporters:

Dear “Chosen” Activists:

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a meeting at Beth Isreal on Miami Beach, about Ateret Cohanim, which is a Jerusalem Reclamation Project begun by the Moskowitz family.

However, I was also introduced to another most amazing project, also going on, which is: www.nofzion.co.il

This is a 400 unit, private neighborhood, with the  ’best view of Jerusalem’. It also will have  a shopping center, country club, synagogue, kindergarten, hotel complex, with 95 units already done. These folks are also supplying sewers and electricity to two nearby Arab villages.

All of this going on in East Jerusalem no less.

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