Sunday, September 9, 2007

Cohen attends CIE conference

Last week, the European Parliament hosted a conference sponsored by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (or CEI), a group with a long name and a short agenda: demonizing Israel. But it was the first time that the European Parliament played host to such shrill vulgarity—a further sign of Europe’s lack of credibility as Israel’s viable partner for peace.

The outcome of the conference was predictable. The most common accusation against Israel was that it is an apartheid state, a claim shared by most attendees. Still, there was innovation in the repertoire, as Daniel Schwammenthal notes in today’s Wall Street Journal Europe. Clare Short, a British MP and former minister who resigned over the Iraq war, blamed Israel for global warming. Her reasoning was that, since Israel distracts the world with its unruly behavior, the world does not spend enough time, attention, and resources on the real issue: man-made climate change. Meanwhile, Belgian Pierre Galand was concerned that Israel’s attempts to shield itself from missile threats would be harmful to peace. (A missile shield might be harmful to Iran’s desire to destroy Israel, on the other hand, which makes Galand’s conception of peace seem a bit strange.)

In the midst of this spectacle, one could see an old man—Aharon Cohen, a member of the radically anti-Zionist Hasidic sect Neturei Karta, who recently attended a Tehran Holocaust denial gathering—walking about with a small laminated Palestinian flag pinned on his chest. Cohen was not among the speakers, but his presence was telling enough. Rubbing shoulders with him in the crowded hall meant that participants were two degrees of separation away from Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and white supremacist David Duke. Could it be that this closeness inspired University of Wisconsin professor Jennifer Loewenstein to accuse Israel of genocide—further proof of the distance, in the world of pro-Palestinian advocacy, between facts and rhetoric?
Article from commentary magazine

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