Leaders at Non-Aligned Movement NAM in Tehran 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
When Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy blasted Syria’s government at the
Non-Aligned Movement Conference in Tehran on Thursday, his comments prompted
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem to storm out.
But when Iranian
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei slammed Israel, labeling it a state of “bloodthirsty
Zionist wolves” that controls the world media, nobody moved.
of the world in the face of these charges is chilling.
It must also be
emboldening for the Iranians. They can trade in virulent anti-Semitism and the
representatives of the world sit in their seats quietly, listening politely as
the words are translated from Farsi to their native languages.
walks out. Nobody heckles. Nobody protests.
Granted, nobody in Israel is
expecting much of Bangladesh, Cuba or South Africa. But how about those
countries with whom Israel has strong ties, such as India, Colombia and
Thailand? Why did they sit still, and what does that say?
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he “strongly rejects” threats by one UN state
to destroy another and the denial of historical facts, such as the Holocaust.
But these words were far outweighed by his very presence at the
It is obviously oversimplistic to say that the attendance of
representatives from 120 countries at the NAM Conference was a vote of
confidence in Iran or its polices.
It was certainly not. But
still, their presence in Tehran at this time – no matter the reason – emboldens
Their presence makes Iran look – and feel – like a respected member
of the family of nations at a time when the goal of Israel, the US and the West
is to make them look and feel isolated, like a pariah state.
the world is using in trying to dissuade Israel from any type of military action
is that all it is asking is to give diplomacy a chance.
are biting,” this argument runs. “Iran is feeling the heat, it is feeling
isolated. Just give us more time.”
Isolated? Really? The attendance of
two kings, 27 presidents, numerous foreign ministers and the UN
secretary-general does not send a message of isolation – not to Iran, not to its
people and not to the rest of the world.
In fact, Israel should be so
When was the last time Israel played host to such a delegation
of world leaders? The glum answer: Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral.
participation of the world in this conference is not meaningless. It sends
One of the messages is that Iran is too big and important to
Even though many of the countries surely have unflattering
opinions of Iranian policy, they deemed it necessary to attend Tehran’s party.
They play the game as if nothing has happened – as if Iran is not relentlessly
marching toward nuclear weapons, as if its leadership does not speak of
destroying Israel, as if nothing has changed or is different.
There is a
message in that for Israel as well. When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went
very public with his call on Ban to boycott the meeting, he laid down a marker:
Who is it going to be, them or us? Ban – and other friendly countries who sent
high-level representatives – chose them, and that overlooking of Israel is a
sobering message that could, down the line, have an impact on Israel’s decision
regarding what action to take vis-a-vis Iran.
Netanyahu announced on
Thursday, to a certain degree as a result of the conference, that he would be
going to the UN in September to “speak the truth” about Iran. And it is certain
that he will give a strong and impassioned speech there. It is equally certain,
however, that it won’t matter much.
Netanyahu gave a powerful speech
about Iran at the UN in 2010, waving blueprints from Auschwitz-Birkenau and
transcripts from the Wannsee Conference as he passionately challenged the world
to stop the Holocaust-denying Iran. And he did so again last year when – even
though the focus of his speech was the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition
– he also talked about the Iranian threat.
Nobody is listening. And that
needs to worry not only us, but also those who are pressing Israel not to take
action because Iran is “isolated” and diplomacy needs more time.
least some countries stayed away from the NAM Conference, had the UN
secretary-general boycotted the meeting and said, “My place at this time is not
in Tehran,” Israel’s leadership may have been able to conclude that the
diplomatic front was indeed working, and that Iran was indeed
But today? Today, after kings and leaders and princes beat a
path to Tehran’s door? Today, that argument will be much more difficult to make