Durban II Diary - Part 4: The UN folds its cards
At 4PM Geneva time, the United Nations and its High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced that the responsible committee (hard to know exactly who that is) had approved the final outcome statement of the Durban Review Conference.
The odd thing is - it's Tuesday and the conference is not supposed to end until Friday. Whazzup?
Ahmadinejad, of course. This was damage control at its most obvious - and totally predictable to many people here, myself included. The UN wants everyone to go away and forget this conference as quickly as possible. The institution has received a horrible dose of publicity that led even the usually idolatrous BBC to raise a skeptical eye.
In short, they have been humiliated big time by the Iranian despot's racist screed. Non-attendance by the Americans was one thing, but mass walkouts by the almost always complaisant Euros was highly threatening to the UN machine. And, make no mistake about it, here in the small city of Geneva especially, the UN is a machine, a money machine that brings in a significant proportion of the local GNP. No wonder the Swiss President, despite much criticism, was eager to shake the hand of the Iranian leader. Even though the Iranian people are in disastrous financial shape, Ahmadinejad was more than willing to blow off the money for forty rooms in this swank hotel, plus banquets for five hundred, plus who knows what else? Middle Eastern despots are cash cows for Geneva and the proximity of the UN to the local banks is no accident. They come to the Palais, say a few bad things about Israel and make a deposit.
Making matters worse for the UN today was a seemingly under the radar panel brought together in the Palais (only yards from the actual plenum) by the Touro Institute's Ann Bayefsky in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. This formidable panel consisted of Natan Sharanksy, Elie Wiesel, Jon Voight, Alan Dershowitz, Shelby Steele and Father Patrick Desbois. Father Desbois is the only name there that may be unknown to you. It shouldn't be. He is an extraordinary man who has devoted his life to locating the remains of anonymous Holocaust victims in Eastern Europe and is the author of a book undoubtedly not high on Ahmadinejad's reading list - The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews.
This panel was electric, even to jaded me, and should have been the true conference. (PJTV will have it in a day or so.) During it, the African-American Steele made some telling points that were taken up by the others - (paraphrasing here - I would recommend the author's own work) implying that racism had diminished significantly and was now being used as an excuse for failure. It had become, in Steele's words, a "distraction." And that anti-Semitism was the biggest distraction of all, an obsession that turned people away from their own problems and prolonged them.
Meanwhile, an unbelievably high percentage of the UN's time (and money, of course) has been devoted to the Palestinian-Israeli question with little or no time for anything else. This was underscored later in the day when a demonstration in support of Darfur was staged outside the Palais. There was little interest in this genocide inside, just as there was very little interest in Rwanda. For the UN, it's "All Palestine All The Time".
But it didn't work this time. Fewer people tuned into that network. For now the Durban II Conference is a fiasco, the UN's inverted human rights campaign at bay. But like "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," it can come back. It always has before. But I suspect there may be a chink in the armor this time - and it's called your money. We live in difficult financial times. Just remember - and remind others - that what you are paying for with your taxpayer dollars that go to the UN (the US is 22% of their budget) are speeches by the likes Ahmadinejad, whose pathological hatred of Jews is exceeded only by his pathological hatred of women. Enough of that. If he wants to be Hitler Jr., he can pay for it himself.
PS: Speaking of money, I asked the UN porte parole (we have this on upcoming PJTV video) how much the Durban II conference cost. He said he didn't know and that it was part of a larger budget. Then he tried to change the subject. Let's not let him. From now on, full financial transparency for the UN, public and online, or no money from us. Not a penny.