Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ahmadinejad speech at the UN

Shalom All,

Just before Rosh Hashanah, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came to the United States in order to address the United Nations. I am not going to address the issue of whether or not he should have been invited to do so. Instead, I would like to look at some of what he actually said in his address.

What Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at the UN on September 23:

"The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support. This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against their will."

Those who believe that Judenhass, the hatred of Jews, ended with the Holocaust, think again. I questioned myself as to whether or not I should include his words in this article or simply summarize them because they are so offensive. I decided that bringing them to light in our community was the best way to make clear the threat that Iran poses to Israel, to the United States, and to its allies. I could have simply said that Ahmadinejad had blamed the evils of the world on the Jews and you might have been upset, but it would have made little of an impact upon you. You might have said, "No, he really is anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish."

Ahmadinejad rejected accusations he was anti-Semitic, saying his criticism was aimed at the "Zionist regime" for its oppression of the Palestinians rather than at Jews. You might have seen or heard his denial, "As soon as anyone objects to the behavior of the Zionist regime, they're accused of being anti-Semitic, whereas the Jewish people are not Zionists," Ahmadinejad said. "Zionism is a political party that has nothing to do with Jewish people."

By actually looking at what he said, there is no doubt that it is classic anti-Judaism that is at work. By "Zionists," the President of Iran clearly meant "most Jews."

He meant that Jewish causes, Zionist causes, clearly violate the "dignity, integrity, and rights of the American and European people." In his mind, Jews manipulate the politicians of the world through deceit and stealth. Further, Jews control the world's finances, politics, and media. Ahmadinejad argues that world leaders need to obey these Jews, "obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people."

This is NOT criticism of Israel. This is not even criticism of America and Europe's support for Israel. This is blatant Jew-hatred, full of conspiracies straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That such words were uttered in the United Nations is a disgrace to the institution, an institution whose mission to bring peace to the nations of the world is jeopardized by its inability to take the side of righteousness and justice as well as by the ease in which a tyranny of the majority is allowed to corrupt its ideals and persecute minorities.

Ahmadinejad did not end his despicable address with the above. He continued with words eerily similar to another Jew-hating dictator who attempted to confuse the opinions of world leaders and mask his intentions by calling for peace. Ahmadinejad stated:

"Friends and Colleagues, all these are due to the manner in which the immoral and the powerful view the world, humankind, freedom, obeisance to God, and justice. The thoughts and deeds of those who think they are superior to others and consider others as second-class and inferior, who intend to remain out of the divine circle, to be the absolute slaves of their materialistic and selfish desires, who intend to expand their aggressive and domineering natures, constitute the roots of today's problems in human societies. They are the great hindrances to the actualization of material and spiritual prosperity and to security, peace and brotherhood among nations."

Simply put, it is the fault of the Jews called "Zionists" that there is no "actualization of material and spiritual prosperity" or "security, peace and brotherhood among nations." It is amazing to realize how powerful Jew-haters believe Jews to be. It is shocking to us to see those words in print, to hear them said.

We can act as if we understand Jew-hatred. We can rationalize the use of the verb "To Jew Down," perhaps as some in the Asian world do, as a compliment to Jewish business savvy, rather than as an insulting statement about Jewish concern for money. They don't mean any insult by it. Neither do those who accuse Israel of oppression of the Palestinians on a par with the Nazis and Apartheid South Africa. They are making criticisms of Israel! Really? Of course they are doing more than that. They are demonizing Israel and often by inference all Jews, at least those Jews who do not join them in demonizing Israel.

Ahmadinejad wants "peace!" so he says. He and other leaders of his nation continue to speak of a world without Israel or America. His nation, rich with oil wealth, seeks nuclear power. No thoughts about creating a warhead or two from the project, so they say. Yet they have accelerated their nuclear program and have worked to create missiles both capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe and capable of arming with a nuclear warhead or a biological or chemical one.

Ahmadinejad wants "peace!" so he says. So said another dictator who hated Jews. This November, we mark the 70th anniversary of Krystalnacht. Posters from around that time are eerily familiar.

In one, the man, whose name should be blotted out, stands with his hand raised. Underneath his picture are the words, "I now ask the German people to strengthen my faith and to give me through the strength of its will the strength I need to continue to fight courageously at any time for its honor and its freedom, and to be able to further its economic prosperity. I ask it particularly to support me in my struggle for true peace."

In a second, from a few years later, around 1943, we see a curtain pulled back to reveal the face of a Jew proudly staring down at a burning village with the caption, "The Jew: The inciter of war, the prolonger of war."

It has not gone away, my friends. The President of Iran stood at the podium in the General Assembly of the United Nations and stated plainly, "They are the great hindrances to the actualization of material and spiritual prosperity and to security, peace and brotherhood among nations."

Yet this man was hosted, in fact, honored and feted, by pacifist Christian groups during his visit to America during an interfaith celebration of Ramadan, an iftar meal, breaking the fast. The groups, behind the September 25th event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel and who should rightly be ashamed are the Americans Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Central Committee, Quaker United Nations Office, Religions for Peace and the World Council of Churches. Ahmadinejad dined with around two hundred people of various faiths including Mennonites, a Jew (only one of which I know was in attendance, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, founder of the Shomer Shalom peace movement and one of the early forces behind the Jewish Renewal movement in America) and Zoroastrians who said they wanted to promote peace by meeting such a prominent foe of the United States.

The President of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, said in response to hearing about the participation of Christian groups in welcoming Ahmadinejad, “Catholics need to stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters in protesting this obscene event. Ahmadinejad is a menace to freedom-loving people the world over, and the sight of religious groups embracing him is nauseating,”

I cannot agree more. Honoring such a man makes a mockery of the pursuit of peace and the pursuit of well being for the nations of the world. Hundreds of Jews, Christians, and others protested outside the hotel during the dinner.

As we mark the 70th anniversary of Krystalnacht this month and celebrate Chanukah, a holiday symbolizing a time when our people triumphed over those who would have destroyed us, let us remember the threats that our people face in the world today. The leading face of that threat was invited to address the United Nations, received applause for his remarks which contained blatant anti-Jewish sentiments, and was honored by people who seek to bring peace to the world. That should give us all pause.