On Tuesday, a handful of delegates at the United Nations walked out during a rant being delivered by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the body’s Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference.
While some Jewish organizations have applauded those who left during the Iranian leader’s disgusting tirade against Israel and the United States, it would be gratifying to see a bit more outrage directed toward those who stayed.
According to John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the continued presence at the meeting of nations such as Russia and China “doesn’t tell you something about Ahmadinejad, [it] tells you something about the way the U.N. works.”
Citing the policy of “moral equivalence,” Bolton said, “In the U.N. system, everybody is equal. It’s, in fact, called sovereign equality.” And, he added, under this system “you don’t want to single anybody out, with a few exceptions – the United States and Israel.”
He goes on to point to the irony, perpetrated under this system, of Iran’s being recently elected to the Commission on the Status for Women – “a truly unbelievable outcome in the real world, but perfectly normal, business as usual in the U.N. system.”
(The American Jewish Committee noted that a leading Iranian cleric, Kazem Sedighi, had recently “claimed that countries where women do not dress modestly are more susceptible to earthquakes.”)
While talk pretty much always trumps violence, the danger of offering Ahmadinejad so global a platform was underscored by Bolton’s conclusion that the Iranian leader may actually have picked up some support after his speech.
At the several protests held across the street from the U.N. during Ahmadinejad’s appearance – including participation by members of the U.S. Congress, New York state senators, and Jewish leaders – most speakers insisted on the need for tougher sanctions and cited some 74 companies that do business with Iran.
According to JTA, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said, “Today we renew our call to the companies and say when they do business with Iran, they fund its nuclear development,” adding that she is pressing for Senate hearings to investigate the issue.
Bolton does not think this will help, pointing to the situation of North Korea – poorer and more isolated than Iran, but boasting a nuclear arsenal.
Iran “couldn’t care less” about being isolated, he said, noting that the nation has already faced down at least three sets of sanctions.
The sad conclusion, here, is that not enough is being done either to curb Iran’s aggressive posture or to redirect the U.N. away from hypocrisy and toward moral leadership. If this is not a priority of our government, it should be.