Commentary Magazine


Topic: U.N. General Assembly

Rouhanimania Will Upstage Bibi at UN

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu outlined his agenda for his trip to New York for the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations this month. Netanyahu will hope to remind both his American ally and the international community of the nuclear threat from Iran and, as the New York Times reports, restated a four point plan that would take the world back from the brink of a confrontation:

Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet that Iran must stop enriching uranium, remove enriched uranium from the country, close its nuclear plant near Qum and stop what he called “the plutonium track.”

“Until all four of these measures are achieved, the pressure on Iran must be increased and not relaxed, and certainly not eased,” the prime minister said in a statement released by his office.

Netanyahu’s right that these are exactly the measures needed to ensure that Iran really is stopped from developing a nuclear weapon but the chances of this argument getting much of a hearing next week are slim and none. Even if Netanyahu brings cartoon characters in costume with him to the U.N. podium to illustrate the imminent danger of Iran’s growing stockpile of refined uranium as well as their plutonium alternative in a follow-up to the cartoon red line straight out of Wiley Coyote’s Acme catalogue that he drew last year, it’s almost certain he will be overshadowed by the appearance of the West’s great hope for peace with Iran: the Islamic regime’s new President Hassan Rouhani. Though evidence of Rouhani’s alleged moderation is still lacking, the contrast with his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is so great that many in the media and official Washington are starting to speak of him as an Iranian version of Bobby Kennedy. With Rouhanimania in full bloom in New York, the Israeli insistence on telling the truth about Tehran’s intentions and the need for the West to not get suckered into another round of dead-end negotiations with the Iranians will make Netanyahu appear to be a party-pooper.

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Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu outlined his agenda for his trip to New York for the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations this month. Netanyahu will hope to remind both his American ally and the international community of the nuclear threat from Iran and, as the New York Times reports, restated a four point plan that would take the world back from the brink of a confrontation:

Mr. Netanyahu told his cabinet that Iran must stop enriching uranium, remove enriched uranium from the country, close its nuclear plant near Qum and stop what he called “the plutonium track.”

“Until all four of these measures are achieved, the pressure on Iran must be increased and not relaxed, and certainly not eased,” the prime minister said in a statement released by his office.

Netanyahu’s right that these are exactly the measures needed to ensure that Iran really is stopped from developing a nuclear weapon but the chances of this argument getting much of a hearing next week are slim and none. Even if Netanyahu brings cartoon characters in costume with him to the U.N. podium to illustrate the imminent danger of Iran’s growing stockpile of refined uranium as well as their plutonium alternative in a follow-up to the cartoon red line straight out of Wiley Coyote’s Acme catalogue that he drew last year, it’s almost certain he will be overshadowed by the appearance of the West’s great hope for peace with Iran: the Islamic regime’s new President Hassan Rouhani. Though evidence of Rouhani’s alleged moderation is still lacking, the contrast with his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is so great that many in the media and official Washington are starting to speak of him as an Iranian version of Bobby Kennedy. With Rouhanimania in full bloom in New York, the Israeli insistence on telling the truth about Tehran’s intentions and the need for the West to not get suckered into another round of dead-end negotiations with the Iranians will make Netanyahu appear to be a party-pooper.

Full credit should be given to Iran for doing everything possible to feed the Rouhanimania of a Western foreign policy establishment and media eager to help President Obama back down from his repeated promises to stop Iran. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the real boss of Iran, Supreme Leader Grant Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed Rouhani’s outreach by saying it was time for “heroic leniency.” The regime also freed 11 political prisoners in an effort to weaken the critique of Iran’s appalling human rights policy.

But the main centerpiece of the Iranian charm offensive remains Rouhani, a veteran Islamist who was one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s foot soldiers and later served as part of the country’s security apparatus when it began sponsoring international terrorism such as the attack on the Jewish communal building in Buenos Aires, Argentina that took the lives of 85 persons. Rouhani has exchanged letters with President Obama and has become the almost obsessive focus of many in the West on the idea that Iran is about to change its policies. As I wrote yesterday, Rouhani’s statements about accepting Syria’s wishes about its future and offer of closing one of its nuclear facilities are being interpreted as signs that his presidency can provide a reset of relations with Iran.

While prisoner release and nuclear reactor shutdowns would be welcome, those who buy into Rouhanimania need to understand whom it is they are dealing with and put his strategy into the context of Iran’s long-term goals.

Permitting Rouhani to run in the fake presidential election that Iran held was a masterstroke by Khameini. Though a rigid Islamist tyrant, he seems to have a grasp of international public opinion. Allowing Ahmadinejad to become the public face of Iran around the world was a terrible mistake. The former Iranian president’s public embrace of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial made it easier for Westerners to understand just how brutal the Islamist state really is. Removing him from the picture and replacing him with someone that can be represented as a moderate who desires peace changes nothing of substance in Tehran but it is just the excuse to embark on a new round of diplomacy with Iran that the Obama administration desired.

As long as Rouhani surrenders nothing of value to the West — including its right to pursue nuclear capability — he will serve a useful purpose for a regime that has suffered from the international sanctions applied against it in recent years. But those who buy into Rouhanimania need to understand that his goal is the lifting of those sanctions, not stepping back Iran’s sponsoring of international terrorism, ceasing its military intervention in the Syrian civil war or giving up its nuclear options. Moreover, as long as he keeps the West engaged in diplomacy there is no chance the U.S. or Israel will be able to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before it is too late.

It may be too much to hope for the U.S. to see through this charade but these are points to remember as we watch Rouhani become everyone’s favorite Iranian in the UN media crush.

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The End of Obama’s Non-Peace-Talk Charade

No surprise here:

In perhaps the shortest round of peace negotiations in the history of their conflict, talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have ground to a halt and show little sign of resuming.

But this explanation has to make one smile:

Pressure to restart the talks eased after the Arab League said it would wait a month — until Nov. 8 — before ending Abbas’s mandate for negotiations, thus pushing the issue beyond the U.S. midterm elections. But if Republicans score big gains, some Israelis argue, that could limit Obama’s ability to pressure Israel to make concessions.

Because, for all the whining about making Israel a partisan issue, there is no doubt that support for Israel and opposition to Obama’s pitched assault on it are strongest on the Republican side of the aisle.

The extent of the administration’s naivete and incompetence is something to behold (my comments in brackets):

The Obama administration, worried that the impending end of the settlement freeze would leave a potentially dangerous vacuum, rushed forward with talks without a plan for dealing with the end of the moratorium, analysts say. The hope was that sheer momentum would carry the talks forward. [What momentum?]

That decision has come with costs, including some to Obama’s credibility. [Some? It does rather shatter it, no?] The president invested his personal prestige in launching the talks, and even appealed to Israel to extend the freeze during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly. [Because he imagined that the sheer swellness of himself, coupled with threats, could achieve what the Israelis plainly said was unacceptable?]

The Palestinians, taking their cue from previous administration statements, have made a settlement freeze a key requirement for continued talks, so any reversal in that stance would make them appear weak. Netanyahu, concerned about the impact an extension of the freeze would have on his right-leaning coalition, has put new demands on the table, such as upfront Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. [In other words, he screwed up the whole thing.]

Having demonstrated that the U.S. is such a feckless friend of Israel and an unreliable interlocutor for the PA, Obama now faces the prospect that his beloved multilateral institution will try to dismember the Jewish state:

“We are going to go to Washington to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders. If that doesn’t work, we’ll go to the U.N. Security Council and will ask Washington not to veto,” [PA negotiator Muhammad] Shatayeh said. If Washington vetoes, he said, then the Palestinians will appeal to the U.N. General Assembly.

Does the UN General Assembly have such power? Two foreign policy experts tell me that the involvement of the UN General Assembly is not unprecedented in such matters. The General Assembly was responsible for the 1947 partition. More recently, as they gurus explained, “after Kosovo declared its independence, Serbia asked the U.N. General Assembly to intervene and U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to issue an opinion, which it did.”

General Assembly resolutions are not, strictly speaking, binding. But legality is not the issue; this is a thugocracy, after all, which has been empowered and elevated by none other than Barack Obama. It is hard to believe that a single administration in just two years could have made such hash out of Middle East policy.

No surprise here:

In perhaps the shortest round of peace negotiations in the history of their conflict, talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have ground to a halt and show little sign of resuming.

But this explanation has to make one smile:

Pressure to restart the talks eased after the Arab League said it would wait a month — until Nov. 8 — before ending Abbas’s mandate for negotiations, thus pushing the issue beyond the U.S. midterm elections. But if Republicans score big gains, some Israelis argue, that could limit Obama’s ability to pressure Israel to make concessions.

Because, for all the whining about making Israel a partisan issue, there is no doubt that support for Israel and opposition to Obama’s pitched assault on it are strongest on the Republican side of the aisle.

The extent of the administration’s naivete and incompetence is something to behold (my comments in brackets):

The Obama administration, worried that the impending end of the settlement freeze would leave a potentially dangerous vacuum, rushed forward with talks without a plan for dealing with the end of the moratorium, analysts say. The hope was that sheer momentum would carry the talks forward. [What momentum?]

That decision has come with costs, including some to Obama’s credibility. [Some? It does rather shatter it, no?] The president invested his personal prestige in launching the talks, and even appealed to Israel to extend the freeze during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly. [Because he imagined that the sheer swellness of himself, coupled with threats, could achieve what the Israelis plainly said was unacceptable?]

The Palestinians, taking their cue from previous administration statements, have made a settlement freeze a key requirement for continued talks, so any reversal in that stance would make them appear weak. Netanyahu, concerned about the impact an extension of the freeze would have on his right-leaning coalition, has put new demands on the table, such as upfront Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. [In other words, he screwed up the whole thing.]

Having demonstrated that the U.S. is such a feckless friend of Israel and an unreliable interlocutor for the PA, Obama now faces the prospect that his beloved multilateral institution will try to dismember the Jewish state:

“We are going to go to Washington to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders. If that doesn’t work, we’ll go to the U.N. Security Council and will ask Washington not to veto,” [PA negotiator Muhammad] Shatayeh said. If Washington vetoes, he said, then the Palestinians will appeal to the U.N. General Assembly.

Does the UN General Assembly have such power? Two foreign policy experts tell me that the involvement of the UN General Assembly is not unprecedented in such matters. The General Assembly was responsible for the 1947 partition. More recently, as they gurus explained, “after Kosovo declared its independence, Serbia asked the U.N. General Assembly to intervene and U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to issue an opinion, which it did.”

General Assembly resolutions are not, strictly speaking, binding. But legality is not the issue; this is a thugocracy, after all, which has been empowered and elevated by none other than Barack Obama. It is hard to believe that a single administration in just two years could have made such hash out of Middle East policy.

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The Human Rights “Charm Offensive”

Fred Hiatt is hopeful — as so many observers have been during the Obama administration — that the president is “turning the corner” on his foreign policy, specifically in the area of human rights and democracy promotion. Hiatt recounts some of the administration’s failings:

The administration criticized the narrowing of freedom in Russia, but cooperation on Iran was a higher priority. It chided Hosni Mubarak for choking civil society in Egypt, but the autocrat’s cooperation on Israel-Palestine mattered more.

Sadly, in fact, it seemed fellow democracies often paid a higher price for real or supposed human-rights failings: Colombia, for example, where human rights was the excuse for not promoting a free-trade agreement.

But it’s worse than that, really. We stiffed the Green movement and cut funding to groups that monitor Iranian human rights abuses. We facilitated the egregious behavior of the UN Human Rights Council. Our Sudan policy has been widely condemned by the left and right. Our record on promotion of religious freedom has been shoddy. We acquiesced as Iran was placed on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. We turned a blind eye toward serial human rights atrocities in the Muslim World. We flattered and cajoled Assad in Syria with nary a concern for human rights. We told China that human rights wouldn’t stand in the way of relations between the countries. We’ve suggested that Fidel Castro might enjoy better relations and an influx of U.S. tourist dollars without any improvement in human rights. And the administration ludicrously sided with a lackey of Hugo Chavez against the democratic institutions of Honduras. The list goes on and on.

As I and other observers have noted, the Obama human rights policy has more often than not focused on America’s ills – supposed Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, and the like: “Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have found some victims of rights-transgression who are of very great interest to them — indeed, since some of them are here at home, and sinned against by America herself!”

But Hiatt thinks Obama is turning over a new leaf: “[A]couple of weeks ago, in his second annual address to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama declared that ‘freedom, justice and peace in the lives of individual human beings’ are, for the United States, ‘a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity.’” Yes, but we’ve heard pretty words before. What makes Hiatt think that this time around Obama honestly means it? He concedes that the proof will be in what Obama actually does:

If Obama’s speech signals a genuine shift, we will see the administration insist on election monitors in Egypt or withhold aid if Mubarak says no. It will wield real tools — visa bans, bank account seizures — to sanction human-rights abusers in Russia and China. It will not only claim to support a U.N. inquiry into Burma’s crimes against humanity but will call in chits from friends in Thailand, Singapore or India to make such an inquiry happen.

And maybe the administration will stop sabotaging Obama’s message on his most active foreign policy front: the war in Afghanistan. There, in its almost aggressive insistence that the war is about protecting the U.S. homeland — and only about protecting the U.S. homeland — the administration undercuts its claim to be a champion of “universal values.”

You’ll excuse me if I’m skeptical, but we’ve been down this road before. And to really be serious about human rights, Obama would need to undo and revise his entire Muslim-outreach scheme. Instead of ingratiating himself with despots, he would need to challenge them. Instead of telling Muslim audiences in Cairo that the most significant women’s rights issue was “for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit — for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear,” he would need to start challenging regimes that countenance and promote violence against women, child marriages, stonings, lashings, honor killings, etc. He would likewise need to revisit systematically our “reset” with Russia and our indifference to Chavez’s shenanigans in this hemisphere. Is this president going to do all that?

It’s lovely that the president is planning a trip “through Asia designed in part to put meat on the bones of his new rhetoric … [where] he will announce grants for nongovernmental organizations that the administration hopes will flower into the kind of domestic lobbies that can push their own governments to promote democracy abroad.” But unless there is a fundamental rethinking and reworking of foreign policy, this will be simply another PR effort that does little for the oppressed souls around the world.

Fred Hiatt is hopeful — as so many observers have been during the Obama administration — that the president is “turning the corner” on his foreign policy, specifically in the area of human rights and democracy promotion. Hiatt recounts some of the administration’s failings:

The administration criticized the narrowing of freedom in Russia, but cooperation on Iran was a higher priority. It chided Hosni Mubarak for choking civil society in Egypt, but the autocrat’s cooperation on Israel-Palestine mattered more.

Sadly, in fact, it seemed fellow democracies often paid a higher price for real or supposed human-rights failings: Colombia, for example, where human rights was the excuse for not promoting a free-trade agreement.

But it’s worse than that, really. We stiffed the Green movement and cut funding to groups that monitor Iranian human rights abuses. We facilitated the egregious behavior of the UN Human Rights Council. Our Sudan policy has been widely condemned by the left and right. Our record on promotion of religious freedom has been shoddy. We acquiesced as Iran was placed on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. We turned a blind eye toward serial human rights atrocities in the Muslim World. We flattered and cajoled Assad in Syria with nary a concern for human rights. We told China that human rights wouldn’t stand in the way of relations between the countries. We’ve suggested that Fidel Castro might enjoy better relations and an influx of U.S. tourist dollars without any improvement in human rights. And the administration ludicrously sided with a lackey of Hugo Chavez against the democratic institutions of Honduras. The list goes on and on.

As I and other observers have noted, the Obama human rights policy has more often than not focused on America’s ills – supposed Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, and the like: “Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have found some victims of rights-transgression who are of very great interest to them — indeed, since some of them are here at home, and sinned against by America herself!”

But Hiatt thinks Obama is turning over a new leaf: “[A]couple of weeks ago, in his second annual address to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama declared that ‘freedom, justice and peace in the lives of individual human beings’ are, for the United States, ‘a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity.’” Yes, but we’ve heard pretty words before. What makes Hiatt think that this time around Obama honestly means it? He concedes that the proof will be in what Obama actually does:

If Obama’s speech signals a genuine shift, we will see the administration insist on election monitors in Egypt or withhold aid if Mubarak says no. It will wield real tools — visa bans, bank account seizures — to sanction human-rights abusers in Russia and China. It will not only claim to support a U.N. inquiry into Burma’s crimes against humanity but will call in chits from friends in Thailand, Singapore or India to make such an inquiry happen.

And maybe the administration will stop sabotaging Obama’s message on his most active foreign policy front: the war in Afghanistan. There, in its almost aggressive insistence that the war is about protecting the U.S. homeland — and only about protecting the U.S. homeland — the administration undercuts its claim to be a champion of “universal values.”

You’ll excuse me if I’m skeptical, but we’ve been down this road before. And to really be serious about human rights, Obama would need to undo and revise his entire Muslim-outreach scheme. Instead of ingratiating himself with despots, he would need to challenge them. Instead of telling Muslim audiences in Cairo that the most significant women’s rights issue was “for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit — for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear,” he would need to start challenging regimes that countenance and promote violence against women, child marriages, stonings, lashings, honor killings, etc. He would likewise need to revisit systematically our “reset” with Russia and our indifference to Chavez’s shenanigans in this hemisphere. Is this president going to do all that?

It’s lovely that the president is planning a trip “through Asia designed in part to put meat on the bones of his new rhetoric … [where] he will announce grants for nongovernmental organizations that the administration hopes will flower into the kind of domestic lobbies that can push their own governments to promote democracy abroad.” But unless there is a fundamental rethinking and reworking of foreign policy, this will be simply another PR effort that does little for the oppressed souls around the world.

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The Same Mistake

Even Richard Cohen has figured out that it is not Bibi’s intransigence but Obama’s incompetence that is at the root of the non-peace-talks impasse. He writes:

Obama ought to confer with someone who knows the region — and listen to him or her. Trouble is, many experts have told him that his emphasis on settlements was the wrong way to go. As late as last week and the succession of meetings held at the United Nations, it was clear that Netanyahu would not ask his Cabinet to extend the settlement freeze. Yet not only did the White House reject this warning, the president repeated his call for a freeze. “Our position on this issue is well-known,” Obama told the U.N. General Assembly. “We believe that the moratorium should be extended.” Well, it wasn’t. …

The Obama approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem has been counterproductive. Either the Palestinians have to back down from their — even more importantly, Obama’s — insistence that all settlements be frozen in place or Netanyahu has to back down from his pledge that any moratorium would be temporary. Either Abbas or Netanyahu has to lose credibility and neither man can afford to. They are not mere negotiators; they are heads of government.

Obama, too, has to husband his credibility. He foolishly demanded something Israel could not yet give.

It is not as if this is a new mistake — it is the same one Obama and his “smart” diplomats have made from the onset of his term. The fixation on settlements remains. “From the very start, the president has taken a very hard line against settlements, refusing to distinguish between an apartment in Jerusalem and a hilltop encampment deep in the West Bank. He also seems not to understand their religious, cultural or historical importance to some Jews.”

The pattern repeats itself – Obama beats up on Israel, fails to deliver concessions to the PA,  and then commences begging with the parties not to break off talks and embarrass the U.S. president. Granted, Abbas is no Anwar Sadat, but Obama has made both himself and the PA president look weak and ineffective.

And we shouldn’t forget that we are not remotely close to a peace deal. For the Obami, it is a Herculean task just to keep everyone in the room. It doesn’t fill you with confidence, does it?

Even Richard Cohen has figured out that it is not Bibi’s intransigence but Obama’s incompetence that is at the root of the non-peace-talks impasse. He writes:

Obama ought to confer with someone who knows the region — and listen to him or her. Trouble is, many experts have told him that his emphasis on settlements was the wrong way to go. As late as last week and the succession of meetings held at the United Nations, it was clear that Netanyahu would not ask his Cabinet to extend the settlement freeze. Yet not only did the White House reject this warning, the president repeated his call for a freeze. “Our position on this issue is well-known,” Obama told the U.N. General Assembly. “We believe that the moratorium should be extended.” Well, it wasn’t. …

The Obama approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem has been counterproductive. Either the Palestinians have to back down from their — even more importantly, Obama’s — insistence that all settlements be frozen in place or Netanyahu has to back down from his pledge that any moratorium would be temporary. Either Abbas or Netanyahu has to lose credibility and neither man can afford to. They are not mere negotiators; they are heads of government.

Obama, too, has to husband his credibility. He foolishly demanded something Israel could not yet give.

It is not as if this is a new mistake — it is the same one Obama and his “smart” diplomats have made from the onset of his term. The fixation on settlements remains. “From the very start, the president has taken a very hard line against settlements, refusing to distinguish between an apartment in Jerusalem and a hilltop encampment deep in the West Bank. He also seems not to understand their religious, cultural or historical importance to some Jews.”

The pattern repeats itself – Obama beats up on Israel, fails to deliver concessions to the PA,  and then commences begging with the parties not to break off talks and embarrass the U.S. president. Granted, Abbas is no Anwar Sadat, but Obama has made both himself and the PA president look weak and ineffective.

And we shouldn’t forget that we are not remotely close to a peace deal. For the Obami, it is a Herculean task just to keep everyone in the room. It doesn’t fill you with confidence, does it?

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Sudan?!

When last we left the UN clown show, Richard Goldstone’s report had been roundly applauded and approved, and Anne Bayefsky (who has spent a quarter century bird-dogging the UN, a task which few of us could endure for an afternoon, let alone an entire career) had been carted off and her credentials taken for speaking up with righteous indignation about the UN’s latest round of Israel-bashing. The kicker, as reported by Fox News:

Bayefsky is now waiting for the U.N. to return her credentials or to refer her case to the Committee on NGOs, which will meet during January and February and could decide whether to renew her NGO pass — a prospect that has her deeply worried.

“The chances of my getting through that committee are basically nil,” she said.

The nation that chairs the committee, Sudan, is currently engaged in a murderous war on its own citizens and expelled 13 major aid NGOs from the country in March — meaning that a human rights violator that rejects NGOs within its own borders will be overseeing the approval of NGOs at the U.N.

Asked about this apparent inconsistency, a spokeswoman for the U.N. body overseeing the NGO committee said in an e-mail that “the Departments concerned are investigating this matter on the basis of established practice, jurisprudence and thorough review of the facts.”

Well isn’t that par for the course. It’s all there: the high-minded double-talk (what “jurisprudence” justifies roughing up a critic and snatching her badge?) and the inmates running the asylum, and all of it in service of the UN’s one great and constant mission — vilifying Israel. The timing here is far from coincidental:

“The next three weeks are the heart of the entire year at the U.N. General Assembly. The frenzy of anti-Israel activity is going on right now,” she said. “There’s a reason they’re keeping me away — this is no accident.”

This  hypocrisy circus is the “international community” whose approbation Obama seeks. The Obami treat the UN with decorum and respect, as if it were a serious organization rather than a gang of thugs that devotes its time to silencing critics, providing cover to terrorists, and averting its gaze from its member states’ own appalling human-rights records. Obama tells us that the world community is one that enjoys shared values. Really. Which goals and values in particular do we share with this crowd?

Bayefsky may miss the “heart of the entire year,” but she’s gotten to the nub of the problem. Unfortunately, the Obami show no sign of taking this or any other incident to heart, nor of reconsidering their role in enabling the UN miscreants.

When last we left the UN clown show, Richard Goldstone’s report had been roundly applauded and approved, and Anne Bayefsky (who has spent a quarter century bird-dogging the UN, a task which few of us could endure for an afternoon, let alone an entire career) had been carted off and her credentials taken for speaking up with righteous indignation about the UN’s latest round of Israel-bashing. The kicker, as reported by Fox News:

Bayefsky is now waiting for the U.N. to return her credentials or to refer her case to the Committee on NGOs, which will meet during January and February and could decide whether to renew her NGO pass — a prospect that has her deeply worried.

“The chances of my getting through that committee are basically nil,” she said.

The nation that chairs the committee, Sudan, is currently engaged in a murderous war on its own citizens and expelled 13 major aid NGOs from the country in March — meaning that a human rights violator that rejects NGOs within its own borders will be overseeing the approval of NGOs at the U.N.

Asked about this apparent inconsistency, a spokeswoman for the U.N. body overseeing the NGO committee said in an e-mail that “the Departments concerned are investigating this matter on the basis of established practice, jurisprudence and thorough review of the facts.”

Well isn’t that par for the course. It’s all there: the high-minded double-talk (what “jurisprudence” justifies roughing up a critic and snatching her badge?) and the inmates running the asylum, and all of it in service of the UN’s one great and constant mission — vilifying Israel. The timing here is far from coincidental:

“The next three weeks are the heart of the entire year at the U.N. General Assembly. The frenzy of anti-Israel activity is going on right now,” she said. “There’s a reason they’re keeping me away — this is no accident.”

This  hypocrisy circus is the “international community” whose approbation Obama seeks. The Obami treat the UN with decorum and respect, as if it were a serious organization rather than a gang of thugs that devotes its time to silencing critics, providing cover to terrorists, and averting its gaze from its member states’ own appalling human-rights records. Obama tells us that the world community is one that enjoys shared values. Really. Which goals and values in particular do we share with this crowd?

Bayefsky may miss the “heart of the entire year,” but she’s gotten to the nub of the problem. Unfortunately, the Obami show no sign of taking this or any other incident to heart, nor of reconsidering their role in enabling the UN miscreants.

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Bush’s “Nothingburger”

Yesterday, just moments after President Bush finished his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Bill Kristol called the speech a “nothingburger.” The Weekly Standard editor, appearing on the Fox News Channel, was complaining that the Commander-in-Chief had said virtually nothing about Iran at a time when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was lounging in the audience and Iranians were helping to kill Americans in Iraq.

The President’s silence on Iran was indeed troubling. But he nonetheless delivered an important message. “Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma,” the President declared. He announced that the United States would tighten economic sanctions, expand a visa ban, and continue to support humanitarian groups. He called on the U.N. and its member nations to help the Burmese people “reclaim their freedom” and put an end to a “nineteen-year reign of fear.”

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Yesterday, just moments after President Bush finished his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Bill Kristol called the speech a “nothingburger.” The Weekly Standard editor, appearing on the Fox News Channel, was complaining that the Commander-in-Chief had said virtually nothing about Iran at a time when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was lounging in the audience and Iranians were helping to kill Americans in Iraq.

The President’s silence on Iran was indeed troubling. But he nonetheless delivered an important message. “Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma,” the President declared. He announced that the United States would tighten economic sanctions, expand a visa ban, and continue to support humanitarian groups. He called on the U.N. and its member nations to help the Burmese people “reclaim their freedom” and put an end to a “nineteen-year reign of fear.”

Bush’s words came at a critical moment. Hours after he left the podium in New York, government security forces in the capital of Rangoon, now known as Yangon, fired on protesters. At least five of them died. The generals ordered the crackdown after Beijing, apparently, gave them the green light to use force. They had been unable to quell more than a month of street demonstrations across the country. This week there have been protests numbering 100,000 in the capital. (In 1988, the junta killed an estimated 3,000 citizens participating in similar protests.)

The Rangoon generals, who have caused a long-term economic downturn, could not maintain themselves without material and diplomatic support from their neighbors. China has been their primary backer. This January, for instance, Beijing vetoed a U.S.-sponsored United Nations Security Council resolution on Burma, and in May the Chinese regime refused to join ASEAN in urging the generals to release Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy advocate who was imprisoned immediately after her party won national elections in 1990.

The U.N. and Asian regional organizations have been hamstrung by Beijing—and to a lesser extent by Moscow and New Delhi. As a result, the generals in Rangoon have been able to maintain their repressive regime in the face of dissent at home and withering criticism abroad. Now it is up to the United States, the power of last resort in the international system, to provide the support for democratic change in Burma. So did President Bush serve up a nothingburger yesterday? Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Columbia’s Defeat

Speaking in New York on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly annual session, French President Nicholas Sarkozy declared that a third round of sanctions against Iran was both desirable and likely. If the U.N. will not adopt a third resolution, Sarkozy suggested, the EU will: “Between surrender and war, there is a range of solutions that exist like the reinforcement of sanctions, which will eventually have an effect,” Sarkozy was quoted as saying. No war, clearly, though not surrender, either—a word that could describe Columbia University’s decision to host Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Speaking in New York on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly annual session, French President Nicholas Sarkozy declared that a third round of sanctions against Iran was both desirable and likely. If the U.N. will not adopt a third resolution, Sarkozy suggested, the EU will: “Between surrender and war, there is a range of solutions that exist like the reinforcement of sanctions, which will eventually have an effect,” Sarkozy was quoted as saying. No war, clearly, though not surrender, either—a word that could describe Columbia University’s decision to host Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Israel and the U.N.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, plans to turn itself into the U.N. General Assembly for a few moments next November, when it will reenact the fateful November 29, 1947 U.N. General Assembly vote. Israeli officials hope to have the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, preside over the ceremonial reenactment, alongside the representatives of the original 33 nations who supported the vote.

In two weeks, the European Parliament is also going to play host to U.N.-sponsored, Israel-related activities—this time of a different sort. Then, the EP’s gates will open to welcome, for two days, a “conference” organized by the so-called “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,” or CEI. Lest there be any confusion, the CEI is a relic of the cold war; it was established by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3376 in 1975, alongside the infamous Resolution 3379, which stipulated “Zionism is a form of racism.” 3379 was repealed, but CEI lives on, in its own parallel universe of hatred.

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Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, plans to turn itself into the U.N. General Assembly for a few moments next November, when it will reenact the fateful November 29, 1947 U.N. General Assembly vote. Israeli officials hope to have the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, preside over the ceremonial reenactment, alongside the representatives of the original 33 nations who supported the vote.

In two weeks, the European Parliament is also going to play host to U.N.-sponsored, Israel-related activities—this time of a different sort. Then, the EP’s gates will open to welcome, for two days, a “conference” organized by the so-called “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,” or CEI. Lest there be any confusion, the CEI is a relic of the cold war; it was established by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3376 in 1975, alongside the infamous Resolution 3379, which stipulated “Zionism is a form of racism.” 3379 was repealed, but CEI lives on, in its own parallel universe of hatred.

The upcoming conference in Brussels reflects this highly partisan, biased, anti-Israel spirit, as well as the organizational hypocrisy of such international forums, where onesidedness is coated in neutral language. Thus, the conference title is “United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace” and the theme is “Civil society and parliamentarians working together for Middle East peace.” Rest assured, though—its participants will whistle a very different tune.

The speakers are vetted to prevent anyone from airing anything but the party line. Among the Israelis apparently invited to attend (the highly secretive program does not list names yet) are, for example, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Michel Warschawski, and Amira Hass.

Nurit Peled-Elhanan is a peace activist and one of the founders of the Bereaved Families for Peace. After Elhanan’s thirteen-year-old daughter died in 1997, Elhanan became an outspoken critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; she has said that in Israel, “People are either Jews or non-Jews, and it doesn’t matter what they are if they are non-us.” Michel Warschawski is a journalist who writes frequently for extreme left-wing European magazines. Amira Hass writes for the daily newspaper Ha’aretz, and is known for reporting from the Palestinian perspective.

These are interesting speakers, no doubt, but they do not accurately represent Israeli civil society or Israel’s parliament. They speak for themselves and the Palestinian viewpoint, which they have all preached heartily.

All of this and more will take place in less than two weeks, courtesy of the European Parliament and Europe’s taxpayers, who bear the burden of its running costs. So far, only Polish parliamentary members have spoken against the event, announcing they will boycott it for its slanted nature and the harm it will do to the cause of peace. Kudos to the Polish delegation, then, for standing up against the CEI’s abuse of the prestigious platform. It is unfortunate, though, that so far only one of 27 members has spoken against the event, and that an official representative of the Parliament is listed among the speakers for the opening session (alongside a representative from “Palestine,” but not one from Israel).

It is perhaps too much to expect the European Parliament to withdraw its sponsorship of this partisan event, whose aim is everything but the goal its title describes. As for the U.N., let’s just hope there is no scheduling conflict, and that on November 29, U.N. Secretary General Ban, who was already at the opening annual session of CEI last February, will be in Jerusalem, and not at one of the many Israel-bashing events CEI no doubt plans to hold on that day in New York, Geneva, or Vienna.

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