The Magazine

Defining Jew-Hatred Down

The curious response to Ahmadinejad at the U.N.

Nov 17, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 09 • By MATTHIAS KüNTZEL
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It is a topsy-turvy world: At the United Nations--an organization born out of the struggle against Nazi Germany and intended to embody the lessons of the Holocaust--a head of state openly spouts anti-Semitic propaganda in an address before the General Assembly. Granted, he takes the trouble to denounce "Zionists" and avoid the word "Jew," but this dodge is transparent to any student of the Nazis. His speech is greeted with acclaim, and neither the U.N. secretary general nor any Western head of government bothers to object. The media are mostly silent.

It happened on September 23, and the speaker was Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A familiar figure at the U.N., Ahmadinejad has a history of using his turn at the rostrum to sermonize about his yearning for the return of the Shia messiah. This time, he went further, drawing inspiration also from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The Zionists, he told the assembly, are the eternal enemy of "the dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people" (this is the English translation of his remarks on the U.N. website). Although they are few in number, the Zionists "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 United States in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner."

Indeed, so influential are the Zionists around the world that even "some presidential or premier nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support." In particular, even "the great people of America and various nations of Europe" are caught in the clutches of Jewish power: They "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."

Yet liberation is near. "Today," according to Ahmadinejad, "the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse. There is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters."

For Ahmadinejad, of course, such talk is nothing new. Addressing the international Holocaust deniers' conference in Tehran in December 2006, he declared (in a speech translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI) that "the Zionist regime will be wiped out, and humanity will be liberated"--freed, that is, from the "acquisitive and invasive" minority he "outed" in New York as the real power behind Western governments. The sentiment is not so far from that expressed in a Nazi directive of 1943: "This war will end with anti-Semitic world revolution and with the extermination of Jewry throughout the world, both of which are the precondition for an enduring peace." Just as Hitler's utopia, his "German peace," required the extermination of the Jews, so the Iranian leadership's "Islamic peace" is conditioned on the elimination of Israel.

Ahmadinejad's performance elicited applause from his audience and a warm embrace from the president of the General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a 75-year-old Catholic priest and holder of the Lenin Prize of the former Soviet Union. D'Escoto is a close friend of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, in whose government he served as foreign minister from 1979 to 1990. This is the same Ortega who, four weeks after the Tehran Holocaust deniers' conference, joined President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela in welcoming Ahmadinejad to Latin America as a "a president willing to join with the Nicaraguan people in the great battle against poverty."

Equally noteworthy was the lack of reaction to Ahmadinejad's U.N. performance in Western capitals--with three exceptions. The German and French foreign ministers criticized Ahmadinejad's "blatant anti-Semitism," and Barack Obama expressed disappointment that the Iranian president had been given "a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views." Otherwise Ahmadinejad's misuse of the U.N. to spread anti-Semitic propaganda didn't even register as a provocation.

On September 23, the very day of his speech, Ahmadinejad was Larry King's guest on CNN. King offered the Iranian president an hour-long opportunity to hold forth as he pleased.