Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Snuff "Art" in Israel vs. in France
* OPINION EUROPE
* APRIL 22, 2009
The U.N.'s Anti-Antiracism Conference
Geneva shows that the best hope for restoring human rights is to deny these
corrupt events the veneer of legitimacy.
GERALD M. STEINBERG From today's Wall
Street Journal Europe
GENEVA -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tirade Monday to the United Nations'
"antiracism" conference should not have surprised anyone. The Iranian
president denounced Israel, or the "Zionist entity" as he calls it, which,
according to his version of history, was created by Europe and the U.S. on
the "pretext of Jewish suffering" in World War II. He spoke of a world-wide
Zionist conspiracy, referring to Israelis as "those racist perpetrators of
European delegates walk out on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday in Geneva.
Many people walked out, including those European diplomats whose governments
had ignored the warning signs and chosen to participate in this conference.
They were cheered by Jewish NGO members and students who had come to ensure
that this conference would not take the anti-Semitic path of the 2001 Durban
In a packed unofficial session on anti-Semitism the next day, Holocaust
survivor and memorializer Elie Wiesel demanded an apology from the U.N. for
even inviting Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has long been infamous for his Holocaust
denial and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz spoke of the Iran-Hamas link and
attacks against Israel in the Arab world and by the left in the West. And
ex-gulag resident Natan Sharansky condemned the Orwellian spectacle of an
antiracism conference run by some of the world's worst human-rights
violators, an absurdity that reminded him of Soviet show trials.
Consider that Libya and Iran were the leading organizers of this conference
and thus responsible for drafting declarations that single out Israel among
the nations for condemnation -- the modern form of anti-Semitism.
After Mr. Ahmadinejad's address, the conference got down to business: The
Syrian, Qatari and Palestinian representatives spoke of Israel's "racism,"
though the status of minorities and women in their own jurisdictions was
off-limits, of course. Other Arab speakers focused on what they consider to
be the worst form of racism: insults to Islam and the prophet Muhammad.
Muslim countries have long been pushing for international laws to
criminalize such "insults." Draft declarations of the Geneva conference
called for limits to freedom of speech with respect to religion, i.e. Islam.
Little wonder then that 10 democratic countries -- first Canada, followed by
Israel, the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands,
Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic -- chose to stay away from this
The Geneva conference has so far not seen the type of anti-Semitic excesses
as witnessed in Durban, where Jews were physically attacked and Hitler's
"Mein Kampf" was handed out.
But the radical agendas of many powerful NGOs is at display at numerous
"side events." A London-based group called "Islamic Human Rights Commission"
brought three Hasidic Jews to hold signs proclaiming "Zionism is racism."
The organization "North-South 21," which is closely linked to the Libyan
regime, organized a session on "Occupation and Discrimination," featuring
Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general and now left-wing activist who
accuses Israel of "genocide." Radical pro-Palestinian groups such as Badil
and Ittajah held an "Israel Review Conference," which discussed how to press
war-crime charges against Israelis in Western courts and cut off Western
arms sales to the Jewish state. Unlike in 2001, the more prominent NGOs such
as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International did not take part at these
sessions, even though they are playing a central role in international
campaigns to delegitimize Israel.
Once again, the obsessive focus on the Jewish state meant that the real
problems of racism and genocide were largely ignored at this U.N.
conference. Only outside the official U.N. antiracism conference, at
well-attended "counterconferences" organized by NGOs such as U.N. Watch, did
the real victims of racism and mass murder get the attention they deserved.
Only at those counterconferences could one witness moving presentations by
victims of Iranian oppression, survivors of the Rwandan genocide and the
continuing slaughter in Darfur. And on Monday night, when Jews marked
Holocaust Memorial Day, a large gathering stood quietly honoring the victims
while the language of human rights was being abused in the U.N. building.
Human Rights Watch, which played an active role in the 2001 fiasco, had
tried hard to pressure the Obama administration to abandon core moral
principles and participate in the review conference. President Obama
rejected this advice, and in a tacit rebuke to the NGO lobby explained that
the foundations of the Durban process are fundamentally incompatible with
universal human-rights norms. A new structure is necessary if these values
are to be given serious attention.
At the same time, though, President Obama has sought to placate the NGO
lobby by agreeing to rejoin the failed U.N. Human Rights Council. The main
lesson from this week's events is that the best hope for restoring human
rights is to deny such corrupt organizations the veneer of legitimacy.
Mr. Steinberg is executive director of NGO Monitor and chair of the
Political Science Department at Bar Ilan University.
2. You will be forgiven if you were not paying attention to the recent
assault on "religious coercion" by the Israeli leftist secularist
establishment and defenders of enlightenment.
The controversy began when the Haifa National Science Museum decided to put
on display the so-called "Human Body World" exhibit, which is making the
rounds all over the world. The exhibit contains "educational" displays
produced with actual body parts of dead humans. (See
ibit.htm ). It is controversial wherever it goes.
It was even more controversial when the Haifa Science Museum wanted to put
it up. After the announcement of the planned exhibit, a wave of protests
responded (see http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3690258,00.html) .
The problem is that under Jewish law or halakha, it is considered a human
rights abuse and violation of the dignity of mankind to display human body
parts rather than bury them. The body contains sanctity, while at the same
time body parts also contain and conduct "tum'a" or ritual impurity. (There
are fascinating rabbinical analyses of this seeming contradiction.) Note -
these body parts are not being used for a redeeming activity like training
surgeons to save lived, but rather to pander to voyeurism.
The planners of the exhibit took glee in defying and exhibiting their
contempt for the religious people in Israel making the protests. It did not
matter that numerous secularists also expressed revulsion. Indeed, even
when Christian and Moslem religious groups joined the Jewish Orthodox in
opposing the exhibit, the organizers dug in their heels. That is a bit
surprising because, while secularists in Israel often regard the Orthodox
with contempt, they are hyper-cautious about offending the religious
sensitivities of Arabs.
As for the "educational" value of using actual human body parts, any
educational benefit could be achieved just as easily via photos of body
parts or plastic imitations. The inclusion of actual body parts made the
exhibit about as educational as a Snuff film, and one that appeals mainly to
the basest voyeurism. 30 million people world wide have seen the exhibit,
although I suspect a larger number have seen Snuff films.
So while the Snuff exhibit is still on display in Haifa, and after its
initiators lectured Israel for months about how unenlightened are those
Orthodox who opposed the use of body parts in "art," yesterday a judge in
France issued an injunction ordering the closing of a parallel exhibit in
France called "One Body: The Universe Within," on grounds that it is
offensive and repulsive. Curiously, no leftist secularists in Israel
denounced the French judge for being a medieval clericalist unenlightened
chareidi Orthodox troglodyte!
3. Eureka! I have discovered a place where a Palestinian state can be
Scientists discover a nearly Earth-sized planet
4. Jerusalem Post editorial on the Eurotrash:
5. The moderateness of the moderate PLO:
6. Iranians adopting rhetoric of the Left:
7.. Thoughts on Yom Hashoa: