February 24, 2011

Recalling the king of kings' speech of speeches

The following is excerpted from a blog entry I posted September 23, 2009, after watching Muammar Qaddafi address the United Nations General Assembly. I can't say I foresaw this month's events, but at least I wasn't taken in. I did tell his UN ambassador that -- unless we were to break off diplomatic relations with Libya -- the man should be allowed to stay anywhere he likes within these United States. I also got to show Qaddafi a few things about modern Orthodox Jews. More on that later...

From the blog I posted September 23, 2009, at www.religionandpolicy.org

It was farcical and almost amusing to hear Libya’s Col. Muammar Qaddafi remind the delegations to the United Nations that New York is a terrorist target and so out of the way that most of the guests still have jet lag when they give their speeches.

I remember the day 20 years ago when I learned of Pan Am 103 and heard over the radio the mothers shrieking in agony upon learning that their children would not be stepping off the plane at JFK. I was horrified, and still am. So it was at best ironic to hear Qaddafi suggest New York has outlived its usefulness as a host city for the UN Headquarters.

Separately, he got a healthy laugh from the delegates when he said the Security Council should be renamed the “Terror Council” – even he seemed amused.

I imagine Qaddafi will refrain from accusing Israel and the United States of violating the UN Charter, a document he pretended to tear in half during his 96-minute stream of consciousness lecture. If he were truly committed to abandoning the UN status quo – which he claims is based on original sin – he could have led a permanent walkout by all the African delegations, in his capacity as chair of the African Union. That would have made an impression, and would probably reduce the UN to a catering hall. For better or worse, he clearly intended no real changes, just a rhetorical advantage. (Note: sometimes, less is more.)

Another continuing curiosity at Wednesday’s big day was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose speech prompted about a dozen delegations to walk out. More curious was that while some seemed to leave when he turned to his stock denials of the Holocaust, other departures were timed to his rants about Western double standards – not the most offensive remarks he had uttered. Or maybe, it was just a long day.

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