Cecilie Surasky - MuzzleWatch editor and Jewish Voice for Peace communications
director is in Geneva, covering the Durban II UN conference.
For the next few days we will be sending out her daily reports.
Here is today's:
1 Propaganda campaign uses young people for anti-UN photo op
2 Gay Muslim filmaker Parvez Sharma is my hero
3 Shalom International, pro-settler movement, joins Holocaust
Remembrance event tonight
4 Israel's publicity campaign at Durban II- not really boycotting
Propaganda campaign uses young people for anti-UN photo op
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
ple 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 arely sabotaging the work of
all the racial justice groups that have come here to work on
substantive issues. It's beyond cynical.
Gay Muslim filmaker Parvez Sharma is my hero
to a UN side-event sponsored by UN Watch, affiliated with the American
Jewish Committee. It is another Orwellian group that works to
delegitimize the UN but says it does so because it cares deeply about
human rights. (I'll have a lot to say later about the stunningly
cynical ways superficial human rights language is being deliberately
deployed by groups like UN Watch and The Israel Project to actually
undermine and gut the human rights infrastructure.)
The panel featured truly extraordinary people like Esther Mujawayo who
survived genocide in Rwanda or Ahmad Batebi who endured repression in
Iran. They all talked about the ways the UN failed them, since that is
the agenda of UN Watch (do they know they are being used? It is hard to
say- they are all wonderful and inspiring.) The icing on the cake,
Canadian human rights lawyer, and strangely knee-jerk defender of bad
Israeli behavior, Irwin Cotler, used soaring and inspiring language to
praise the panelists, condemn racism, and verbally tear Ahmedinejad,
and the UN for hosting him, to tiny little pieces.
(There is no mention of the UN's obligation to allow any head of state
who wants one a platform. Is this the same as an endorsement? It's the
UN, so clearly not. The UN includes everyone, from bullying empires to
tinpot, wacked out dictators. They all get a say.)
The speakers insistently say that genocide starts with extreme racial
discrimination institutionalized by the state. In Rwanda, they were
forced to have ID cards with their ethnic identity etched on them.
And yet, sitting in the room were exactly the Palestinians who could
speak beautifully about systematic racial/ethnic discrimination in
Israel-Palestine. Three young lawyers/legal researchers from Al Haq,
the legal rights group based in the West Bank, are sitting quietly in
the room. Yeah, I'm sleep deprived, but I feel the injustice of it all-
they have been completely denied a way to speak at a side-event. They
are experts on precisely the topic at hand, but they virtually have no
voice at this conference. I start to cry, and rush over to Maysa's side
(she reminds me of a dear friend of mind, we could chat for hours) and
ask her "how can you sit here and listen to this?"
"I am so angry inside," she tells me. "I am staying here until the end
and I will ask questions and that will make me feel better." I am
amazed at her composure. Worried for all of them. And then…..Parvez.
It's Parvez' turn. He made the film Jihad for Love about gay Muslims.
He starts by saying that he objects to the one-sided panel, the attacks
on Ahmadinejad and Islam (not that he defends Ahmadinejad). He is proud
to be one of over 1 billion Muslims.
He objects to the conspicuous absence of talk about apartheid in
Palestine, the killings in Gaza, the lack of another Muslim voice with
a different perspective. You can see how emotional he is. Maysa claps
wildly. I can't believe it. Cutler answers with the old talking point,
"Israel should be treated like any other state and should be held
accountable, but it's singled out." Parvez responds some more. The UN
Watch director somewhat disengenuously says, "We knew you disagreed
with us and that's why we asked you here, so what you said is what we
Parvez is clearly emotional and I want to find him and hug him and
thank him. I want to cry again. What he did was brave. I turn to Maysa.
She is beaming. "What he did released me," she says. She takes a big
breath. How we must speak with and for each other.
The event gets no mention on the UN Watch blog of the panel.
Shalom International, pro-settler movement, joins Holocaust Remembrance
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
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
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
All of this going on in East Jerusalem no less.
Nof Zion is also a 'shield' to reclaim Jerusalem and one of the best
buys ever for anyone wanting to invest in Israel, for yourself, or
So G-d has brought Nof Zion and Shalom International together, for they
are sponsoring most of my trip to Geneva and to Israel. There we will
organize a huge "Rally to Keep Jerusalem United", on May 11, when Pope
Benedict is in Jerusalem, with 50,000 pilgrims and also hundreds of
media, so that we can tell our side of the story of our 3000 yr. old
Eternal Capital, that will be ours forever and isn't 'negotiable'.
We could not be doing this without Nof Zion's help ,(as well as other
donors). They have also asked us to let everyone know of our mutual
efforts and concerns here.
For each unit we can find buyers for, they will also contribute to our
activism. So if any of you are planning Aliya, or will be in Jerusalem,
to please let us know so that we can pass on this information. It will
help us tremendously to continue doing what we do best and more of it.
Given the politics of the world screaming to divide Jerusalem, Nof
Zion, is that 'role model' for an existing and giant effort in East
Jerusalem, everyone needs to know about.
Elegance with a purpose. A terrific investment ,at pre-construction
prices, that will hugely increase by next year and more importantly,
Nof Zion is making a vital statement ,at a critical moment in our
history, that none of our enemies can stop.
What a blessing to know about and to help participate in. Nof Zion
solidifies keeping Jerusalem Unitied.
Please pass on this vital project to all of your networks and our
involvement and their support for our efforts.
This, plus the freeing of the American ship Captain from Somali
pirates, a great Passover and tomorrow is our 101st. rally in support
of Israel at 5-7P.M., at Broward Blvd. and 3rd Ave., in Ft. Laud..
Then on Wed. same time and location, Shalom International, will join in
our local "Tea Party", we expect will be huge.
All of this activism, plus below, are many mitzvahs and much effort we
are proud to do. G-d is with us. Also, Tom Trento's, Florida Security
Council and others, are sponsoring a Free Speech Summit, 4/27/09,
6-10P.M at Delray Beach Marriott, 10 N.Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach,
Fla.,. featuring Geert Wilders and a number of other speakers on the
Islamic threats we all face. Please contact:
For all of you who have contributed, many thanks. For those of you who
can still help, please go to our website:www.defendjerusalem.net, via
paypal. For a tax write-ff, make your check to: Mishkan Shlomo, c/o
Defend Jerusalem, P.O.Box 402263, Miami Beach, Fla. 33140. Everything,
no matter the amount, helps greatly.
These are very dangerous times and every effort to go on the offense to
oppose the anti-semites out there and all who want America, Israel and
the West destroyed, we must do all we can to expose and mobilize
We are doing our part and your help is very much appreciated.
Yours in Shalom,
Pres., Shalom International
305-864-5110. In Geneva:, and Israel, 305-519-7748
Israel's publicity campaign at Durban II- not really boycotting after
Turns out Israel is here in full force at Durban II. Earlier today I
told you about the range of Israeli-government-narrative-only events
being held in UN buildings, while Palestinian NGOs have been banned
from holding side-events. (The transparent excuse is that the
side-events can not be region specific, only issue specific. The real
story is the UN simply folded to pressure.)
As one respondent told me, the UN Human Rights Commissioner is still
reeling because she folded on all of the US demands to essentially
cleanse the Palestinian narrative from the conference, and still the US
and others pulled out. Of course, the UN can't say no to any leader of
state who wants to speak. I'll post more later about the disaster that
was Ahmadinejad's speech, which, it can be said with certainty, put the
issue of Israel and the US back into the center of the conference. In
fact, his speech made the scarily well-run Israeli
government/pro-occupation NGO propaganda campaign almost unnecessary.
Israel, which had said it would boycott the event from the outset,
announced it would launch a publicity campaign while it is going on.
Israel is particularly concerned with the planned address by Iran
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and said it will organize demonstrations
during the speech, and will distribute materials on human rights
violations in Iran - with particular emphasis on public executions and
violence against women.
The campaign will be overseen by Israel Ambassador to Geneva Ronnie
Lashno-Yaar. He will be assisted by Nobel Prize laureate Elie Weisel,
U.S. law Prof. Alan Dershowitz and film actor Jon Voight. A special
media room will also be set up in Geneva, to provide immediate
responses to anti-Israeli statements.
A special delegation of 14 Israeli students will also be taking part.
All the students speak foreign languages and have undergone extensive
training by the Foreign Ministry and the World Jewish Congress.
And in more unintentional hilarity:
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement yesterday, saying
"an international conference in which a racist like Ahmadinejad, who
preaches daily about Israel's destruction, is allowed to speak, says
all that needs to be said about its character and purpose."
Ahmadinejad, as I've said, is perhaps the last person anyone would want
to see as a speaker at a conference against racism and discrimination.
But equally, it needs to be said, what does it say about the Israel
government's (or more accurately Netanyahu's) "character and purpose"
that they have allowed a reviled racist like Avigdor Lieberman not just
to speak, but to become foreign minister?
Jewish Peace News editors:
Sarah Anne Minkin
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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