What President Obama should say before the United Nations General Assembly.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, the Holocaust denier-in-chief who has repeatedly called for Israel's annihilation, is back in New York this week for his annual United Nations General Assembly tirade against Israel and the West. He is reprising his favorite Zionist-Western conspiracy lines for what will probably be his last hurrah at the United Nations, as his fraudulent presidency comes to an end.
The Israeli delegation won't be there this time to walk out. Ahmadinejad's speech is scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday September 26th, the same day as Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
However, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, did have the opportunity to leave the General Assembly Hall to protest an earlier speech Ahmadinejad delivered Monday during a high-level UN meeting on the rule of law.
“Ahmadinejad showed again that he not only threatens the future of the Jewish people, he seeks to erase our past," Ambassador Prosor said. "3,000 years of Jewish history illustrate the clear danger of ignoring fanatics like Iran’s President, especially as he inches closer to acquiring nuclear weapons. Those who ignore his hateful words today, will bear responsibility for his deeds tomorrow. Ahmadinejad heads a state that is the most systematic violator of international law and the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism. It is shameful, disgraceful, and absurd that his voice was part of today’s UN discussion on the rule of law.”
Ahamadinejad is just getting started. He knows that Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the Syrian regime's violent crackdown on its own people, assisted by Iran, will come up during the annual open debate meeting of the UN General Assembly, which starts officially on September 25th. He is hurling every brickbat he can think of to distract attention from these issues.
In addition to his "rule of law" speech, Ahmadinejad previewed his rant on Monday in remarks to selected representatives of the media. He claimed, among other things, that Israelis have no historical roots in the Middle East and that Israel is a "fake regime." He disregarded the entreaties of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting Sunday evening to consider "the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric."
While Ahmadinejad ignored Ban Ki-moon's advice to tone down his own inflammatory hate speech, he hypocritically excoriated the United States for using the excuse of free expression to permit speech considered offensive by Muslims. “They themselves wrongly invoke the U.N. charter and misuse freedom of speech to justify their silence toward offending the sanctities of the human community and to divine prophets,” Ahmadinejad said.
Ahmadinejad's defenders argue that his critical remarks are aimed at the Zionist political entity of Israel, not at the religion of Judaism. He may hate Zionists, they say, but that is not the same as the hate speech put forth by the producer of the anti-Islam video and other "defamers" of Islam and its prophet.
Assuming for the moment that hate speech vowing the annihilation of the Jewish people for simply living in Israel and denying the long historical connection of Judaism to the land of Israel can be distinguished from demeaning speech regarding the Jewish faith, Ahmadinejad is still guilty of defamation of the Jewish and Christian religions.
For example, in his opening speech at an Islamic conference in Tehran earlier this year, the Iranian President of Iran said Islam is the only God-created religion, not Judaism, or Christianity. "Islam is a world religion and God has only one religion, that of Islam," Ahmadinejad said. "He did not send Judaism or Christianity. Abraham was a harbinger of Islam, as were Moses and Jesus."
Relegating Judaism and Christianity to inferior status vis-a-vis Islam is not unique to Ahmadinejad. This brand of defamation of religions other than Islam is typical of the Islamist supremacist ideology.
The subject of defamation of religions, with a one-way focus on the protection of Islam from critical speech, is likely to be a recurrent theme during this year's General Assembly debate. We can expect calls from many of the Islamist member states and from their allies for international criminalization of "defamation of religions" - meaning Islam.
In fact, this subject already came up during a bilateral meeting on September 24th between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Obama, who was also in New York in advance of his UN General Assembly speech, skipped the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart. He thought it was more important to tape an interview with "The View" than attend to the messy business of bilateral diplomacy with heads of state.
Instead of taking the offense against the Islamist attack on our core value of free expression, the Obama administration continues to take a defensive posture.
Thus, poor Hillary was delegated the unpleasant task of listening to Zardari's rant against what Pakistan has labeled the "blasphemous" video posted on YouTube. “One or two insane persons should not be allowed to endanger world peace in the garb of freedom of expression,” he said, effectively blaming the video for the riots in Pakistan last week resulting in twenty-one deaths and more than two hundred people injured. This follows news over the weekend that a Pakistani cabinet minister has offered a $100,000 reward for the death of the person behind the video. He reportedly invited the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to be "partners in this noble deed." Blasphemy, by the way, carries the death sentence or lengthy jail time in Pakistan. Christians are regularly persecuted.
According to a press release issued by the Pakistani government following the meeting, Clinton "reiterated the desire of US government to continue working with the Government and the people of Pakistan for further strengthening the bilateral relations and for the peace, stability and socio-economic development of the region."
"We very much appreciate the strong response of your government," Clinton was quoted as telling the Pakistani leader.
Exactly what "strong response" was our Secretary of State talking about? Standing by while mobs went on a murderous rampage last week and a government minister offered a reward for killing an individual exercising his right of free speech in the United States? Zardari's intention to use his address to the United Nations General Assembly to call for international legislation to stop blasphemy?
We need, but will not get, a forceful response, delivered by President Obama from the United Nations General Assembly podium, in which he unequivocally affirms that this country will be guided first and foremost by the principles of the United States Constitution. This includes the First Amendment's protection of free speech and the freedom to exercise one's religious beliefs or the belief in no religion at all, without any favor or special accommodation granted to any particular religion or set of beliefs. Obama should also say, which he will not, that full respect for Islam in the West must be matched by equal respect for Christianity, Judaism and all other faiths, along with the freedom to openly worship religions other than Islam, in Muslim majority countries. If Muslim countries want to live under seventh century sharia law in governing their own people, that is their choice, but don't expect us to go along.
It is long past the time to push back with words like these directed at the Muslim world, but Obama won't do it. Instead, he evidently stands by his June 2009 Cairo apologia to the Muslim world and continues to decry "stereotyping" of Islam.
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