Durban II protest 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Yesh gvul is Hebrew for there is a limit - and I reached mine sitting in the UN Plenary in Geneva listening to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I am a daughter of two Holocaust survivors. My grandparents (the ones who survived) and all of my aunts and uncles were Holocaust survivors. Their friends were almost all Holocaust survivors as well. I too, in my way, have lived the Holocaust and on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, listening to Ahmadinejad question the veracity of the Holocaust offended me to the very depths of my soul in a way that was shocking, even to myself.
That the Iranian president had the audacity to use the platform afforded him at the UN to refer to the Holocaust as "the pretext of Jewish suffering... in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine" was a moral travesty in and of itself. Given the background of my own family and the history European Jewry, such a statement can hardly be exceeded in the depth of its insidiousness. It is one thing to read Ahmadinejad's blatant and outrageous layout of historical facts in the news, but it definitely is a different experience seeing this man walking up a stage in close proximity and talking literally to the world.
Suddenly my heart pounded widely and I almost felt suffocated knowing that the president of Iran, whose nation is working furiously to develop nuclear weapons that will target the very place where half of the world's Jewish people now reside, was dismissing the veracity of Israel's existence.
It is needless to mention the irony behind the fact that Iran is in the forefront of countries where human rights abuses routinely take place, where there is no freedom of speech or religious belief, where people are routinely abused and have no individual rights, where women and gays are routinely denied their humanity and even their lives.
AFTER THE MOVING walkout by European delegates as a sign of their disgust over Ahmadinejad's remarks, as the representatives of dozens of nations listened quietly or applauded, I could not take it anymore. I decided to take "action" as a sign of symbolic solidarity with the many men, women and children who never had the chance to speak up against the world's biggest human atrocity as they were silenced to death by gas chambers and crematories and with those murdered in terrorist attacks in Israel and abroad.
For not only does Ahmadinejad deny the Holocaust, he also actively sponsors terrorist organizations carrying out suicide attacks against Israel and other Western democratic nations. He advocates martyrdom and global jihad - in fact he pursues a death-loving approach to life that calls for the killing of innocents. That is why I picked up a sign I was carrying for a demonstration later on and held up the truth: "Iran funds Hamas and Hizbullah."
When he said: "World Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religions and abuses religious sentiments to hide its hatred and ugly face," no one said a word. When he questioned the right of my adopted country to exist, he was threatening not only my home, but also the lives of my children. He said of Israel that it is a "Zionist regime" of "ugliness and crimes" and that "we should try to put an end to the misuse of international means by the Zionists and their supporters." Ahmadinejad showed his pure anti-Semitic polemic on full display.
Shortly after my little "act of bravery," I was asked to leave the plenary hall and had my credentials revoked. It was however absolutely worth it: a small sign before the international community but definitely a giant triumph for me and for those who were deprived of ever being heard again.
I had always believed that the ethics of the United Nations was to bring nations together to strengthen international peace and security. This was supposed to be the very DNA on which the UN was built, was it not? But sitting in the middle of the UN celebrating this virulent anti-Semite, giving him legitimacy to publicly speak in front of an international audience, only showed hypocrisy and the failure to do what should have been done - deny Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map, the opportunity to be welcome at an anti-racism conference.
The writer is a senior adviser at The Israel Project.