No, really- some of my best friends are Jewish!
After sixty years of silence on the holocaust the UN this week belatedly recognized the Nazi blot on human history- with a moment of silence. This week marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the UN has finally decided to speak up about the millions of Jews (and others such as gypsies and homosexuals, but predominately Jews) who were murdered as the Nazi's pursued their "final solution."
Sort of, anyway. It seems that many of the nations involved in the UN were otherwise
occupied. Oh yeah, and America called for the special session, by the way:
The commemoration also was meant to eradicate the notion that the UN General Assembly is anti-Semitic, an accusation frequently made by Israel.
But there were signs of division and clear evidence that much of the Arab world was not participating. The General Assembly auditorium was less than half full even for the start of the commemoration, while just one Middle East country -- Jordan -- was scheduled to deliver a speech commemorating the liberation of the camps.
Annan opened the "historic special session" by stating:
The United Nations must never forget that it was created as a response to the evil of Nazism, or that the horror of the Holocaust helped to shape its mission"
Throughout the speeches references were made that the lessons of the holocaust have not yet been learned by the world. Ignoring it for six decades in the collective body formed as a response to WWII might just have something to do with that. Calling Zionism "a form of racism" might have had something to do with it too.
As anti-Semitic extremism rears its head in Germany, France and Russia it is telling that Gerhard Schroeder would lay the blame for the holocaust at the feet of ordinary Germans, as well as the hard-core Nazis.
In Berlin yesterday, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reminded Germans on the eve of Auschwitz commemorations that ordinary people empowered the Nazis and urged them to be vigilant against a continued far-right threat.
Schroeder insisted that the Holocaust could not be attributed solely to the ''demon Hitler."
For the UN to break the traditional silence over the holocaust now- while faced with the oil for food scandal and under the gun to produce results in SE Asia smacks of showmanship- the political equivalent of sleight of hand. Or maybe I am just too cynical. From Deutsche Welle:
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman, a vocal opponent at times of the body's stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said the organization’s decision to hold the event could be linked to an evolving world.
“Maybe we are at a point in history where the changes in the world are reflecting on the United Nations. We do live in a changing world, in a world which hopefully presents us today with a unique window of opportunity to make peace in our region,” he said.
Mr. Ambassador, I would not hold your breath on that issue. This is the flavor of the week at the UN, literally. They love you this week because it is politically expedient. I just hope you don't have to wait another sixty years for this kind of attention from the General Assembly again.