Saturday, April 25, 2009

MuzzleWatch reports from Durban II

"MuzzleWatch" - 3 new articles

1 Jews are aborigines and the Christians love us.
2 Entire world captivated by civil society groups!
3 Pt. II Dershowitz et al, "The worst two hours of my life."

Jews are aborigines and the Christians love us.

ast 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 etaphor 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.
IN A WORD, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language - Hebrew - and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago.
Israel, then, is the aboriginal homeland of the Jewish people across space and time. It is not just a homeland for the Jewish people, a place of refuge, asylum and protection. It is the homeland of the Jewish people, wherever and whenever it may be; and its birth certificate originates in its inception as a First Nation, and not simply, however important, in its United Nations international birth certificate.

The State of Israel, then, as a political and juridical entity, overlaps with the "aboriginal Jewish homeland"; it is, in international legal terms, a successor state to the biblical, or aboriginal, Jewish kingdoms. But that aboriginal homeland is also claimed by another people, the Palestinian/Arab people, who see it as their place and patrimony.

At some point, someone on the stage thanks the Christians who have come to support Israel. The cheer from Christians in the crowd is much bigger than I expect, and I realize there are Christians everywhere.
On the tram afterwards, I start talking to an adorably sweet older woman wearing one of the Israel democracy t-shirts. Turns out she is one of the Christians.
Ann is from the German speaking section of Switzerland, and she found out about the rally through the Messianic Jewish congregation that works with her church. (Messianic Jews believe in Jesus. Their status is, to say the least, highly controversial in the organized Jewish community. In fact, the Presbyterian Church was attacked for anti-Semitism when they funded an evangelical Messianic congregation at the same time that they announced they'd look into divesting from the Israeli occupation.)
I asked her if she thought the Jews would find Jesus. "Why yes, it's in the bible."
Do you think Jews and Muslims or Christians and Muslims can live together? "No, they worship a different God."
Why did you come? "We Christians have not been good in the past, and the media is very biased against the Jews, Israel and all, so we should support them." If the media is biased, where do you get your information about the Middle East? "The bible. Oh, and Christian Embassy." The thing is, I love this woman. She's all smiles and sweetness. I don't doubt her sincerity for a moment.
Her English is not very good, so she probably didn't hear one of the speakers from the podium talk about how great gay rights are in Israel. I wonder how long this odd relationship can go on. I guess, they figure, until the Messiah returns. Then, of course, there's an apocalypse, and we Jews will either get incinerated or convert.


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.


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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