September brings the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, and sure as nukes are nukes, that means Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will again be coming to New York. UN sanctions on Iran notwithstanding, this will be Ahmadinejad’s seventh performance from the UN’s main podium — not counting his appearances in recent years at UN conclaves such as an FAO food summit in Rome, Durban II in Geneva, and last year’s “nonproliferation” conference in New York.
Ahmadinejad’s UN-enabled access to Manhattan and the UN stage is quite bad enough. But the outrages keep piling up. The UN General Assembly this September is planning a festival of treats for Ahmadinejad and his ilk. On Sept. 22, the same day on which he is scheduled to speak in the General Debate, there will be a Durban III “commemoration” of the 10th anniversary of the anti-Semitic 2001 Durban conference. There may be a General Assembly resolution attempting to conjure a Palestinian state infused with terrorists who, like Ahmadinejad, are dedicated to the eradication of Israel. And, special icing on Ahmadinejad’s U.S.-subsidized UN cake, Iran this September will take up a post as one of the 21 vice-presidents of the General Assembly.
Various intrepid souls are doing what they can to counter this. The Hudson and Touro Institutes are planning to oppose the Durban III jamboree with a conference that same day, featuring speakers such as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, former ambassador John Bolton, academy award-winning actor Jon Voight, and former NY mayor Ed Koch. And a former U.S. envoy to the UN, Mark Wallace, now the head of United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), is urging New York hotels to refuse rooms to Ahmadinejad and his entourage. Wallace notes: “International law requires only that he receive an entry visa, not maid service.”
Which brings me to a thought about the incongruities of diplomatic courtesy, as applied these days to those who visit New York on errands surrounding the UN and its related institutions. Recall the case just three months ago, when a hotel maid accused the then-managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of sexually assaulting her in his New York hotel suite. That case fell apart. But not before New York cops had marched Strauss-Kahn off a plane, in handcuffs, to face justice.
Compare that to the handling of Ahmadinejad. Granted, there’s no sign that he’s in the habit of personally assaulting New York hotel maids. He has bigger plans. When he arrives in the room of a New York luxury hotel, to attend the festivities at the UN, he is there to advance the goals of a regime that has bombed, butchered and tortured its way to power and influence, bankrolling and arming terrorists, plotting to strangle and subvert western democracy, threatening to wipe Israel off the map, and pursuing weapons of mass murder. Is that, perhaps, at least as bad as allegedly assaulting a hotel maid?
Yet, Ahmadinejad when he jets into New York, receives official U.S. cooperation and extravagant security, courtesy of U.S. and New York taxpayers, to ensure that while he is in the U.S. — toiling away to damage America and its allies — he is safe from any harm, or for that matter, safe from any justice. I’m sure there are elaborate rationales for why this should be so. But in plain and simple English, it is wrong.