Canaries, Coal Mines And Free Speech
As is always the case, the Baron and Dymphna sowed the seeds for a fascinating and insightful conversation. We discussed the matter of Freddy Thielemans and the Belgian 9/11 demonstration that is fraught with threats of violence, capitulations, counter threats, lawsuits and confrontation. Why all the hullabaloo? Because the Belgians are afraid of the threat of (what will prove to be inevitable) Islamist violence and appear to be willing to do just about anything to pretend they can deal with the situation.
What that really means is that when the inevitable violence occurs, blame will placed on anybody but the Islamists.
Our conversation got us to thinking: Just how do we deal with those who will squash free speech and expression they fear or don't like? How important is free speech, really- and how do we know when free speech becomes a sword of Damocles instead of an avenue of exchange?
Here is some food for thought, previously published:
The Gates of Vienna has a superb post, Ahmanjinedad's Kampf . Reading the post will incite you, depress you or, it just might stop you in your tracks. You won't be able to just 'walk away'.
Now fast-forward eighty years. Watch Kristallnacht, D-Day, Auschwitz, the Berlin Wall, Vietnam, and 9-11 fly by in a blur. Hit "play" as soon as you see the face of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, making his infamous speech this past October :
"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world… The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.
As the Imam [Khomeini] said, Israel must be wiped off the map.
The Islamic umma will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland."
Says the Baron,
It is as if the President of Iran were eerily channeling the Reichskanzler of the 1930s.
We were made aware of this excellent piece via another Dr Sanity post. We left a comment:
If we haven't learned that appeasement is a bad idea, we may deserve exactly what is going to come our way.
I can only hope that we make that stand clear before Almahdenijad decides to kill a few milliion Jews within missile range.
I recall a lecturer once making the remark that Jews were the 'canary in the coal mine' for much of recorded history.
He was referring to an Abba Eban quote, "The Jews are the living embodiment of the minority, the constant reminder of what duties societies owe their minorities, whoever they might be."
I think real magnitude of that remark just hit me.
The Jews have survived everything that has been thrown at them. That will not change.
I can only hope we can survive what appears to be history repeating itself. We seem to be abandoning the Jews again, because it appears to be politically expedient.
God help us.
I believe my response was right on the money.
Anne Bayefsky, in a speech to the UN at a conference, Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding, sponsored by the United Nations Department of Information, said this:
At the U.N., the language of human rights is hijacked not only to discriminate but to demonize the Jewish target. More than one quarter of the resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations adopted by the commission over 40 years have been directed at Israel. But there has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of 1.3 billion people in China, or the million female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia kept as virtual slaves, or the virulent racism which has brought 600,000 people to the brink of starvation in Zimbabwe. Every year, U.N. bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violations by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation of right hand and left foot. This is not legitimate critique of states with equal or worse human rights records. It is demonization of the Jewish state.
As Israelis are demonized at the U.N., so Palestinians and their cause are deified. Every year the U.N. marks Nov. 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People--the day the U.N. partitioned the British Palestine mandate and which Arabs often style as the onset of al nakba or the "catastrophe" of the creation of the state of Israel. In 2002, the anniversary of the vote that survivors of the concentration camps celebrated, was described by Secretary-General Annan as "a day of mourning and a day of grief.
Naturally, the conference was boycotted by Arab states.
Of course, Amnesty International isn't the least bit concerned with Almahdinejad's bigoted and racist remarks. Nowhere on the AI website can anything be found on the subject. Given Amnesty's record on Israel and anti-Semitism, that isn't surprising. While quick to denounce the US gulag, Jews and Israel are another matter.
...The change became abundantly clear at the U.N. World Conference Against Racism that took place in August and early September 2001. The final declaration of the forum of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) said Zionism, or the self-determination of the Jewish people, equals racism and went downhill from there. On the final day prior to the adoption of this declaration, international NGOs, including Amnesty, deliberated about their position as one caucus. As a representative of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists I was about to enter our meeting place along with the president of Amnesty, Irene Khan, when the chief representative of Human Rights Watch, Reed Brody, turned to me in the presence of the others and told me I was not welcome and had to go. Said Brody, to the objection of no one (although I had worked professionally with many of them for years), I represented Jews and therefore could not be trusted to be objective...
However, despite the rhetoric of "inclusiveness," the Amnesty International chief sat on her hands when a motion to delete the voices of Jewish victims of racism was put to the vote and adopted. Every Jewish NGO from around the world walked out. Amnesty and company stayed.
Of course they did. It has become apparent that Jews are as relevent to Amnesty International as they are to the UN, the President of Iran and the rest of the Arab world.
The plight of the Jews- now and in the past- force me to reach deep into myself- and that is never easy. It is a painful and difficult process, to really give a damn when it is so much easier not to. I hate the process, because it is difficult and messy and interferes with an easy life.
We have written about our visit to Auschwitz . We wish everybody could walk through that place.
If that were possible, the preposterous notion of Israelis (read: Jews) as Nazis would be put to rest. If Jews were indeed Nazis, they are remarkably inefficient. After five years of Arab intigated violence, 99.99% of all Palestinians are still alive enough to preach that
The Jews are the Jews.... They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars. They must be butchered and must be killed.... The Jews are like a spring - as long as you step on it with your foot it doesn't move. But if you lift your foot from the spring, it hurts you and punishes you.... It is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land, make war on them anywhere that you find yourself. Any place that you meet them, kill them.
This call for a genocidal war against the Jews was made in 2000 by Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiyah, rector of advanced studies at the Islamic University of Gaza on PA TV, the official channel of the Palestinian Authority. Halabiyah has given scores of similar sermons. Throughout the region, similar sermons and lessons are taught, to cheering, frenzied throngs. Will we not hold these Eichmanns to account? Or do we need for the slaughter of Jews to take place first?
Caring about trees, the rainforest, or puppies or not eating meat doesn't say a thing about your morality or ethics if you don't stand up against the hate- the real hate, the kind that kills- now. Irwin Cotler, Canadian Minister of Justice, said rather succintly when talking about the likes of Iranian President Almahdinejad
It is not surprising then, that the Supreme Court of Canada, in the trials of Holocaust deniers, affirmed: "the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words." Tragically, fifty years later, this lesson has still not been learned. The hate trafficking in Rwanda and Bosnia took us down the road to ethnic cleansing and genocide; and the worst arena today is to be found in the Arab countries and Palestinian Authority.
Check out Fausta's BlogTalk Radio show with the Baron and Dymphna. It's all about insight.