If you didn’t make it to the UN General Assembly (GA), here, in short, is what you missed. A series of exhausting, irritating, aggravating, infuriating, exasperating and pestilential speeches. (A thesaurus helps here.)
Ebrahim Raisi, the Butcher of Tehran and soon-to-be Chair of the UN Human Rights Council, sanctioned by the UN itself and dozens of other countries, spoke and (almost) no one seemed to care (more on that below). Only one leader of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council showed up, giving you some idea of how useless they believe the September meetings are.
It is also a reminder that China’s Xi Jinping might be in trouble at home — a slow to nonexistent economic recovery, an increasing anti-Chinese consensus in the West, trouble in the military ranks (China’s Ambassador to Washington was fired last week), and the ongoing problems of demography and food supply are unlikely to improve.
Vladimir Putin couldn’t show up — the ICC has issued an indictment for war crimes against him. France and the United Kingdom have domestic issues which, while not as compelling as those of Xi or Putin, provide a reasonable excuse to skip the trans-Atlantic plane ride and the spewing at Turtle Bay.
But there were glimmers of something else, mostly outside the building.
“The UAE foreign affairs minister has condemned the statements made by the Palestinian president on the Jewish community and about the Holocaust, in a meeting with representatives of Jewish organizations in New York,” said Al Arabiya in English – which, interestingly, repeated Abbas’s Holocaust-savaging, Nazi apologist slander rather than quoting Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed’s rejection of it. Never mind. Bravo Sheikh Bin Zayed.
Bravo, too, to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad ben Salman (MBS) who reiterated his interest in a broadly prosperous and peaceful Middle East while eliding the Palestinian statehood issue. Again.
“Meeting the needs of the Palestinians“ isn’t the same as statehood and can, in fact, be construed as a slap at PA strongman Mahmoud Abbas. And, as Saudi analyst Amjad Taha noted, “Lets acknowledge what we heard last night…it was a historic moment…the fact that MBS revealed to FOX News that the talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel are ongoing… is momentous.” Yes. It is.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed not only a civil, but an apparently productive conversation with President Joe Biden, reaffirming Bibi’s diplomatic credentials while talking to a man who has undermined the democratically elected government of Israel at every turn.
President Biden himself claimed leadership for the U.S., particularly in the Third World — stressing the rights of women; Afghan and Iranian women were likely crying. The rest of his speech, aside from the part about spending U.S. taxpayer money everywhere but in the U.S., stressed climate change and Ukraine, but with no apparent achievable goals or plans for either.
In a countermove, Raisi bluntly rejected American leadership, extolled the societal benefits of the Islamic Republic and threatened Iranian “justice” against those Americans responsible for the death of IRGC terrorist Qasam Soleimani. The American representative sat quietly taking notes.
In perhaps the most positive moment inside the GA, Israel’s Ambassador Gilad Erdan upheld the honor of the rest of the world by marching through the room during Raisi’s speech with a picture of Mahsa Amini.
He was “escorted out” by security, but nothing erases his singular humanity. And, oddly, Netanyahu received applause inside the GA when he called for “snapback sanctions” on Iran and saying Israel would do all in its power to stop Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
OTOH, as the kids say, King Abdullah II of Jordan ranted about Israel’s occupation of “5 million Palestinians,” making a mockery of the lie that Israel is committing “genocide” in the territories.
He also skipped Jordan’s illegal occupation those very same people and ignored Black September, in which Jordanian and other troops killed thousands of Palestinians and expelled thousands of fighters to Lebanon, where they participated in Lebanon’s Civil War and the ongoing wreckage on behalf of Iran.
PA dictator Abbas told the assembled that the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem are exclusively Muslim holy sites, “including the Bab al-Rahma prayer hall and the Buraq Wall (Western Wall), according to the report of the League of Nations in 1930.” He demanded “an apology, reparation, and compensation” from the U.S. and Britain for the Balfour Declaration.
Ho hum. Another day, another multi-billion dollar spectacle/debacle for the cesspool that is the United Nations General Assembly.
You didn’t miss much.
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center and Editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.
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