For Hotel Hosting Ahmadinejad, Just Another 'International Event'
A few days ago, I phoned the Warwick to ask some basic questions about the arrangements for hosting Ahmadinejad. I was told there was no one available to answer questions about that over the phone, but I could email my queries to the hotel's manager, Sam Kapadia. So I did, inquiring about such matters as how many rooms Ahmadinejad and his entourage had reserved, for how many nights, at what prices, and in what form the Iranian government would be paying -- whether cash or otherwise. I also asked why the Warwick management had decided to go ahead with hosting Ahmadinejad, despite the obvious arguments against doing so, and the public outcry from organizations such as United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).
In response, the Warwick sent a potted statement, dated Sept. 16, saying:
NEW YORK – September 16, 2011 – We join the New York community in welcoming the United Nations back into session this month for the 66th General Assembly. Along with many of Manhattan’s hotels, restaurants and other service organizations, we are ready to cater to the needs of UN delegates and other representatives in support of this official event.
It is the Warwick New York Hotel’s general policy and protocol to maintain complete confidentiality with respect to information about its guests.
The hotel has been privileged to serve a diverse international clientele and host international events during its eight decades of operations. It looks forward to continuing that tradition.
There you have it. This is a statement so morally hollow that it could have come from the UN itself. But while it's deplorable that the Warwick hotel might view Ahmadinejad as just another welcome customer, one more face among a "diverse international clientele," it is not the Warwick that deserves the primary blame. It's a commercial hotel, and it is not in the business of promoting peace and a freer world, but of providing lodgings for profit. Its potential customers are free to make their own judgments about whether to patronize a hotel with management either so morally obtuse or so desperate for customers that even Ahmadinejad is seen as just one more neutral facet of the UN's "international events."
Not so the UN itself however. If you read the charter, the UN's rationale for existing at all is to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights" etc. Instead of living up to its charter, today's UN effectively licenses others to stoop. It's not just the lure of lucre that opens Manhattan hotel doors to Ahmadinejad. It's also the morally corrupt seal of approval that is by now the hallmark of the UN.
(Also read: "Please Remind Us -- Why Keep the UN in New York?")