Stupidity Runs Rampant

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad fulfilled all the promise he brought with him to Geneva for the Durban II conference.

He rambled about Israeli racism (whilst one wonders what a Baha’i observer might have been thinking) and said that the “pretext of Jewish suffering” was used to cover Israeli crimes. He firmly re-established his bona fides as an

Ahmedinejad apparently waving goodby to dozens of delegates

Ahmedinejad apparently waving goodby to dozens of delegates

anti-Semite and a demagogue, and in so doing seriously undermined the good efforts at Durban II.

The conference organizers really wanted to get past the 2001 conference. But their own short-sightedness doomed them. There was every reason to believe that Ahmedinejad’s speech was going to be just what it turned out to be-a full rehash of all the 2001 problems. Yet they welcomed him to the podium anyway. Now they have an even more formidable task of trying to overcome both 2001 and Ahmedinejad’s appearance.

In an interesting coincidence, the European Commission had just chastised some of its own member states for boycotting the conference in anticipation of Ahmedinejad’s appearance. And then most of the rest of the EU states walked out on the speech. Ahmedinejad, as this response demonstrates, dealt a serious blow to those who are advocating engagement with Iran and bolstered the case of those who contend, incorrectly, that the Iranian regime cannot be dealt with rationally. Continue reading

Lieberman Condemns Durban II, US Maintains Boycott

One would like to say that this is a bad joke, but sadly for Israel, it is reality. None other than Avigdor Lieberman has issued Israel’s statement regarding the Durban II conference.

Obviously, this is part of the job of Foreign Minister, and it’s why Lieberman is such an absurd choice for the job. But to see Lieberman, who has risen to a position of power based on a campaign of racism and xenophobia, makes these

Avigdor Lieberman, Israels Foreign Minister

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's "Foreign Minister"

statements…I just don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Lieberman’s statement only increases the negative effect on Israel. The fact that anti-Israel hysteria, which featured a good deal of anti-Jewish hate, derailed Durban I has caused a backlash. It is fair now to ask whether full global participation in the conference is being conditioned not on the absence of unfair singling out of Israel but rather on the absence of any criticism of Israel at all. I don’t know whether that is the case, but I do know that having Lieberman make a statement supporting a boycott of Durban II is just as distasteful as having a hatemonger like Mahmoud Ahmedenijad speak at the conference.

Lieberman making these statements is not just Orwellian–it is another example of Israel’s regression and moves away from its preferred identity as a Western-style democracy in the Middle East. One wonders how long the apologists will continue to harm Israel by defending an avowed racist, xenophobe and demagogue, a corrupt man who was convicted of physically assaulting a 12-year old. Continue reading

Debating Durban II

The much-anticipated Durban Review Conference gets underway next week. While a lot of people seem to have very powerful and set opinions on this event, it strikes me as one that is difficult to choose sides about.

The cases made both for and against the conference often seem weak and lacking in consideration of contradictory factors. A great case in point appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution just today. Two op-eds, one in favor of the USA attending Durban II and one against, appeared. Both were flawed and failed badly to make their case. Continue reading

The Change is Becoming Visible in the Obama Era

My latest piece at Zeek magazine. You can see it by clicking here. In it, I describe the first visible steps the Obama administration is taking toward breaking with past policies.

The change is visible on many levels, and perhaps most importantly in Congress, where a major pro-Israel figure is stepping up and sharply criticizing settlements and other Israeli practices.

My view counterpoints the cycnicism of much of the hardcore left, which seems determined to believe that Obama will change nothing of substance in his dealings with Israel.