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Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Halloween Boo to UNICEF

October 30th, 2011 - 8:26 pm

With Halloween upon us, what could be sweeter than urging your kids to skip the candy and instead collect coins for UNICEF? It’s a grand old tradition, and  many of us did it as kids. Even among UN critics, UNICEF — the UN’s children’s fund — often gets a pass as an outfit which must by nature be benevolent and politically benign. It is, after all, dedicated (at least in theory) to children.

Think again. UNICEF may qualify as a brilliant exercise in branding, and it trades on this to hoover up spare change everywhere from hotels to restaurants to airplane flights — all in the name of needy children. But UNICEF itself is no wide-eyed innocent. It is a big UN fund, bathing in government money (more than $255 million last year in U.S. tax dollars alone), and as such it is prone to the same hypocrisies, Potemkin platitudes, and politicized travesties that bedevil the rest of the UN.

For a summing up, it ought to be enough to note that among the 36 member states on UNICEF’s executive board is China — where the one-child policy has led to staggering numbers of sex-selective abortions, and in some cases, the killing of baby girls. Because the UN values geographic diversity, rather than moral integrity, in parceling out seats on its governing boards, UNICEF’s executive board also includes Somalia, Sudan, Belarus, Russia, and Cuba.

What about UNICEF’s policies? Blogger Yid With Lid has just posted a good rundown of some of the problems, under the headline “This Halloween Please Don’t Give Money to Pro-Terror Anti-Capitalism UNICEF!!” The list includes UNICEF’s fondness for Libya’s late Moammar Qaddafi; UNICEF’s funding of Palestinian summer camps where kids are encouraged to become suicide bombers; and anti-Semitic propaganda such as an advertisement produced by a UNICEF-funded Palestinian youth group, featuring the UNICEF logo under a picture of an axe smashing a Star of David, with the command, in Arabic, “Boycott.”

To this, I can add some further items, such as UNICEF’s announcement on its own web site that, partners being “an essential aspect of UNICEF’s work,” its main partner in North Korea is the North Korean government. That would be the same North Korean government whose totalitarian and utterly self-serving policies have resulted in the stunting and starving to death of millions of North Koreans — a great many of those victims being children.

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In case you missed it, we’ve just had another shining moment of your United Nations at work — the same UN that the U.S. supports with contributions that last year came to some $7.7 billion.

You remember the United Nations Conference on Disarmament? That would be the Geneva-based UN conclave that recently made news for the utterly perverse reason that it was chaired in August by Cuba, and in July by one of the world’s worst rogue proliferators, North Korea.

Out of such proceedings has now come yet another report, subject of consideration and a draft resolution Oct. 21 by the UN General Assembly’s committee on Disarmament and International Security (also known as the “First Committee“). As is customary at the UN, this draft resolution reaffirms that the Conference on Disarmament is “the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.” It goes on to lament that as such, this Conference on Disarmament has been gridlocked for years — “unable to commence its substantive work for over a decade” — and hopes for forward motion soon.

Who sponsored this draft resolution? Why, China, Cuba and North Korea.

With friends like that, maybe the best one can say about the UN Conference on Disarmament, the UN’s “sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community,” is that it is gridlocked. That may be one small reason to sleep better at night. But in that case, the chief service rendered by the Conference is to provide a UN body that gets chaired by Cuba and North Korea, and then yields UN resolutions lamenting not the monstrosity, but the futility of the exercise. Why do we need this Disarmament Conference at all?


The Moral Vertigo of Ban Ki-Moon

October 17th, 2011 - 10:27 pm

Whatever the reasoning behind Israel’s decision to swap more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, this deal is no stellar moment for world peace. Quite the opposite. It affirms for the Iranian-backed terrorists of Hamas that there is great gain to hostage-taking. Expect more.

It confirms that for Hamas, the whereabouts of Shalit, held hostage for more than 5 years, were no mystery; yet the erstwhile civilized world during those years chose to lavish funding on the terrorist welfare enclave run by this hostage-taking terrorist gang. And the bulk prisoner release by Israel means that cavalcades of terrorists — responsible for everything from lynching Israelis in Ramallah to wholesale slaughter in bombings of such places as an Israeli nightclub, hotel, pizza parlor, and so on — will be freed; some quite likely with ambitions to kill again.

In Gaza and the West Bank, preparations have been underway to welcome these terrorists as heroes, and celebrate their release. That’s horrifying, but no surprise. These are places where people danced in the streets and gave out candy to celebrate the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The leaders of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have done well for themselves over the years by pursuing perpetual conflict and indoctrinating the people living under them in the ways of terror and hatred.

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The Trashing of Lower Manhattan

October 16th, 2011 - 12:57 am

Saturday evening was an occasion for visiting some old friends who live in lower  Manhattan, just a couple of garbage bag throws from Zuccotti Park, ground zero of the “Occupy Wall Street” squatter encampment.  So, late in the evening, we lingered briefly on Liberty Street for a look at these folks who have laid claim to turf not their own. There was a guy waving a Chinese flag, another guy toting a guitar; people sitting at folding tables, people milling around, others sitting cross-legged on the ground. There were placards about greed and corruption. It was pretty much what we’d already inferred from the out-sized press coverage devoted to this scene. A camping project, mixing social adventure with witless protest and an angry sense of entitlement. Any great city attracts cranks, but there is a hooligan edge to this “occupation.”

It left me sad for a lot of reasons, but the one I’ll mention here is the long trashing of lower Manhattan. Which, over the past decade, has already been through quite enough. On this date, 10 years ago, smoke was still rising from the massive wreck of the World Trade Center. What was once a vibrant hub of commerce, offices, shops, restaurants, had become a scene of grief and ruin. By stages, the wreckage was cleared away. But for years, the crater remained. In the summer of 2010, as something new finally began to take real shape, along came Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan. In the name of bridging divides, they spawned a season of furious controversy, ripping open emotional wounds with their plans for a “Cordoba House” Islamic community center and mosque right down the block from the site of the Sept. 11 Islamist attacks.

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Terror and carnage in Washington, D.C., with the Saudi ambassador assassinated by a bomb while dining at a restaurant packed with 100-150 other customers, possibly including a number of senators. That’s what “elements” of Iran’s government allegedly had planned for this autumn, according to court documents and press statements released Tuesday by U.S. authorities.

Americans are just now learning some of the details of this Iranian terror plot, in connection with charges brought against American-Iranian dual national Manssor Arbabsiar, now under arrest in New York. The criminal complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York, provides 21 pages of horrifying material, much of it amassed with the help of a paid undercover informant, who posed as an associate of the unnamed Mexican drug cartel the Iranians thought they had recruited for the hit (Barry Rubin, in a terrific Pajamas post, on what it all means, links to the complaint). The complaint lays out a trail in which Arbabsiar, a naturalized American living in Texas, conspired with members of Iran’s Quds Force, an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, to orchestrate the assassination on American soil of the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The plot went all the way to the top of the Quds Force, and involved hiring the services of a violent Mexican drug cartel to use explosives to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington. If that succeeded, it was to be followed by other terrorist jobs.  There are lots of fascinating details, including such trivia as the use of a code-name, “Chevrolet,” for the assassination plot; and such monstrosities as Arbabsiar’s comment  to a U.S. undercover source that his Iranian co-conspirators wanted the Saudi ambassador killed, and if 100 bystanders were killed as well, “f–k ‘em.”

Yet the criminal complaint also includes a caveat: “No attempt has been made to set forth the complete factual history of this investigation or all of its details.”

Which brings me to a question, as yet unanswered: Did Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad know about this plot for a terror attack in Washington? The timing is startling. It was coming to a head in late September, right around the time of, or just a few days after, Ahmadinejad’s Sept. 19-24 visit to New York, for the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

As we are now informed, U.S. authorities were on to the terror plot, and Arbabsiar’s erstwhile Mexican cartel contact was an undercover informant working not to arrange a bombing in D.C., but to thwart it. But presumably the Iranians didn’t know that. Arbabsiar, as he shuttled between Texas, Mexico, and Iran, during the months in which he was allegedly arranging the attack, apparently didn’t know the plot was already blown. Anyone on the Iranian side might have been counting down the days, or the hours, expecting that scenes of murder, rubble, and bloody mayhem, accompanied by international uproar, would soon be emanating from the American capital.

Here are a few highlights of the timeline, as set out in the complaint. On or about Sept. 2, Arbabsiar was asking the undercover agent if “the building is getting painted” — a code phrase which according to the complaint was a way of asking “whether the arrangements to kill the ambassador were still underway.” On or about Sept. 20, Arbabsiar in a phone call told his erstwhile cartel connection that in two or three days he would head to Mexico to serve as human collateral for payment for the hit; meanwhile, “Don’t wait for me. Get ready…”

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Here Comes Another Goldstone Report

October 5th, 2011 - 4:59 am

Remember South African former judge Richard Goldstone? Chief author of the biased and discredited 2009 Goldstone Report for the UN’s discredited “Human Rights Council,” on the Israel-Gaza conflict? One might have supposed that after that debacle — in which even Goldstone himself finally admitted, late in the day, that he had erred  – Goldstone would hang up his spurs. Instead, he’s back in action, now vetting the qualifications of judges to fill six seats coming open on the International Criminal Court (ICC) — which is where Palestinian officials, if they can get a foothold, would like to see Israelis prosecuted for war crimes. Goldstone is now chairing a five-member panel, assessing the qualifications of new judges for the ICC, and is due to produce a report this fall.

This round, Goldstone is not acting under the auspices of the United Nations, but he’s about as close as he can get without jockeying for parking space in the UN garage. The umbrella organization now employing his services is a nonprofit with offices in New York and the Hague, called the World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy. This outfit, which enjoys consultative status with the UN, runs a program called the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), which is dedicated to advising and promoting the ICC.

Is Goldstone perhaps bending over backwards to make amends for the slant of the 2009 Goldstone Report? He has not answered my emailed queries about this, so I don’t know what his intentions are. But as chair of the CICC’s “Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections,” he has embedded himself among a throng of former UN good ol’ boys (and gals), who hail from the same UN ethos that produced the Goldstone Report. For instance, the CICC’s advisory board is chaired by former secretary-general Kofi Annan, and includes one of Goldstone’s coauthors of the Goldstone Report, Pakistani lawyer Hina Jilani, along with former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour. More on this scene in my article for NRO, “Goldstone Returns.”