Dan Gillerman: a Big Liar at the UN
A diplomat, the cynics say, is someone who lies for his country. If so, Israel's ambassador at the UN Dan Gillerman is an outstanding diplomat, that's to say he's a Big Liar, though whether his countrymen and women ought to be happy with him representing them is another matter.
Israeli governments like to pretend they are speaking not only for Israelis but in the name of Jewish people around the world, whether we like it or not. Well "Not in my Name", writes my friend John Bunzl:
'Dan Gillerman, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN is quoted in today's Haaretz as stating: "Ahmadinejad visiting Ground Zero is like Hitler visiting Auschwitz". You have to read this statement several times in order to realize how much it relies on a banalization, trivialization and exploitation of the Holocaust. People with conscience, esp. Jews, should reject it outright. Here we have a case, sadly among many others, of manipulating an almost sacred historical truth in the interest of "Realpolitik" and warmongering.
'Any semi-educated person would recognize the following:
1) There is no direct relationship between Ahmadinejad and Ground Zero; nothing comparable to the direct relationship between Hitler and Auschwitz.
2) Atrocity does not equal atrocity. There is a huge difference between 9/11 and the genocide perpetrated in Auschwitz between 1941 and 1945.
3) Ahmadinejad does not equal Hitler. It is an unacceptable distortion of history to designate any political figure not of your liking as Hitler. Remember Nasser, Saddam and Arafat? The latter was characterizes by Prime Minister Menahem Begin as even "worse than Hitler".
4) In order to object to Ahmadinejad's policies it is not required to sink into primitive polemics, to invent horror stories or repeat questionable "translations" ad nauseam. Only if you want to hide more sinister intentions. I urge you to protest Gillerman's infamous statement. As a Jew I would like to add: "Not in my name!"
John Bunzl, by the way, knows a bit about the real Hitler. He grew up in London as a child refugee from Nazism before being taken back to Austria with those of his family who had survived the Holocaust. Maybe that helped him sympathise with others who were made refugees. I met John in Paris in 1982 when we both were among those rallied by the late Maxim Ghilan to oppose Israel's war on Lebanon and support a just peace in Palestine. (Maxim was an unofficial diplomat, an Israeli who told the truth for his countrymen, and had been jailed to prove it.)
Apart from the lie of blaming the Iranian president for 9/11, when (as Mossad can tell the ambassador) those who carried it out were Saudis, and bitter rivals of the Iranian regime, what makes Gillerman's remark most outrageous is his evocation - and exploitation - of the Nazi
This comes after it was reported in both Israel and the United States that Iranian television is currently running a drama mini-series based on the true story of a wartime Iranian diplomat who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. This has raised popular awareness and sympathy with Hitler's Jewish victims and gone a long way to erase the impression created by Ahmedinajad's past remarks about the way Europe eased its conscience by supporting Israel, and Tehran's hosting of a Holocaust revisionist conference.
The other piece of news of course was that Israeli police had arrested a gang of neo-Nazi youth who had been active for some time, attacking religious Jews and Muslims, and desecrating synagogues with swastikas. One might have thought an Israeli government spokesperson, particularly one who wanted to lecture others about the Jewish tragedy, and how societies tackle racism, might have some explaining to do.
Or better they keep quiet.
Especially when Israel is walling off Palestinian centres and declaring collective punishment of the people it has surrounded in the Gaza Strip.
But Gillerman feels perfectly entitled to air his crudity and ignorance and tell New Yorkers whom they should allow to visit 'Ground Zero'. Perhaps he believes he knows his audience. More important, as John Bunzl suggests, the Israeli UN ambassador wants to hide more sinister intentions. Like getting people worked up into the state of irrational hatred where they are ready to applaud their governments going to war and bombing Iran.
And for that, as a certain cynic taught, the Big Lie always works.