For Hotel Hosting Ahmadinejad, Just Another 'International Event'
It's no surprise by now that the United Nations continues to host Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at "high-level" events at its New York headquarters. At the UN, despite its charter stipulation that membership is open to "peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter," it is by now obvious that a welcoming hand (including that of the Secretary-General) is routinely extended to Ahmadinejad as leading envoy of Iran's regime. Never mind that Tehran's proliferation-loving mullocracy is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, a persistent and flagrant violator of UN sanctions, a gross violator of human rights on its domestic turf and a self-advertised hub of genocidal desires regarding the democratic state of Israel, and ultimately the United States (that's the meaning of "Death to America! Death to Israel!").
Hey, welcoming folks like this is part of UN business as usual. As administration officials like to remind us, the UN may be imperfect, but why let that get in the way of the utopian dream?
And that is exactly the message that still seems to be registering with some in the Manhattan private sector, where -- Tehran's track record of terror and proliferation notwithstanding -- it seems it is still possible for Ahmadinejad to find a luxury hotel room for the night. In recent years he has migrated from one plush New York hotel to another -- the Barclay Intercontinental, the Hilton, and so forth -- apparently shut out of return visits after public protests naming the hotels. But it seems there is always another willing establishment. This year it appears to be the Warwick New York Hotel, on West 54th Street. There, if the Warwick brochure is any guide, Ahmadinejad can enjoy fat pillows on which to lay his Holocaust-denying head and dream his radioactive dreams of a new Holocaust. There, he and his entourage will presumably have the pick of the "richly appointed suites, several with private terraces offering breathtaking views of Manhattan."
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?")