FRESH AIR

Three UN General Assembly Speeches – Iran, the PA and Israel

Oct 1, 2021 | Oved Lobel

From left: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
From left: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Every September, the UN Assembly is addressed by most of the world’s national leaders. Below is AIJAC’s analysis of this year’s speeches by three of those leaders – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Iranian President Raisi (Sept. 21) – Orwellian double-speak and blatant untruths

Iran’s performances at the United Nations have often been characterised by crazed conspiracy theories and inflammatory rhetoric, although former President Hassan Rouhani was skilled at putting a gloss of diplomatic normality on some of the Iranian regime’s more extreme claims. However, new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s speech at the 76th Session of the General Assembly lived down to expectations admirably.

Raisi described himself as the “elected President” of “the most progressive in the election-based political system in the west of Asia,” referring to the brutal, medieval theocracy imposed in 1979 as “a great leap for the fulfilment of national and Islamic ideals of Iranians including freedom, independence and religious democracy.”

“I, as the elected President of the great people of Iran, am honoured to be their representative to convey to the world at large the message of rationality, justice and freedom,” Raisi said.

This is especially interesting in light of the fact that Raisi was appointed in a shambolic farce of an election as part of a totalitarian regime that frequently murders its own people en masse and conducts itself in such an irrational fashion as to have isolated and destroyed itself economically. Raisi personally oversaw the executions of thousands of Iranians in the 1980s. It is difficult to find three less applicable concepts to the current Iranian regime than “rationality, justice and freedom.”

And that was just the introduction. The core of the speech was various lies about the US, such as the claim that it had sanctioned medical imports, including COVID-19 vaccines, into Iran as part of an “organised crime against humanity.” He claimed, “Iran was keen from the outset to purchase and import COVID-19 vaccines from reliable international sources.” Raisi has apparently forgotten that his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, explicitly banned importing the most reliable vaccines, tweeting “Importing vaccines made in the US or the UK is prohibited.”

Former President Hassan Rouhani even triumphantly crowed that the regime had blocked all attempts by vaccine companies to give vaccines to Iran. “Foreign companies wanted to give us vaccines so they would be tested on the Iranian people. But the health ministry prevented it,” Rouhani bragged earlier this year.

Without a hint of irony, Raisi accused the US of creating ISIS and thus having a double standard when it comes to fighting terrorism – Raisi is the President of the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. “The occupier Zionist regime is the organiser of the biggest state terrorism,” Raisi clarified.

Iran’s guiding policy, he said, is “the preservation of stability and territorial integrity of all the countries of the region.” Perhaps it was opposite day, as Iran’s policy is precisely the reverse, and its imperial and terrorist endeavours are the primary cause of instability, insecurity, and the failure of states in the Middle East.

“The solution to skirmishes and conflicts in our region lies in the following:  Making the will of nations rule over their own destiny by referring to the results of public vote,” Raisi risibly said, as Iran pursues the destruction of democracy both internally and across the Middle East via assassinations and mass slaughter.

Finally, Raisi lied about Iran’s nuclear program, asserting, “It is the strategic policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to consider the production and stockpiling of atomic weapons as forbidden based on the religious decree by His Eminence, the Supreme Leader.” Someone should have informed the Supreme Leader, who recent evidence has shown ordered the creation of a nuclear weapons program and nuclear arsenal in the 1980s and continues to instruct Iranian scientists to conduct activities solely useful in the context of building nuclear weapons.

It is quite something to watch Iran complain about sanctions over its nuclear program when these sanctions would have been lifted long ago but for the fact that Iran’s regime refuses to allow the US back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, instead demanding all sanctions, including those unrelated to the JCPOA, be removed unilaterally.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Sept. 24) – Inflammatory rhetoric and a one-year ultimatum

Not to be outdone, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also delivered a speech heavily laden with untruths and inflammatory rhetoric, some of them not even internally consistent. For instance, the bulk of the speech focussed on Israel allegedly destroying the possibility of a two-state solution and perpetuating “colonialism” and “apartheid”. Abbas then went on to say, “As regards building state institutions, we stress that we have a full-fledged State.”

Abbas claims that this state, which also does not in fact exist according to him, because of Israel’s occupation, has “institutions that act in accordance with the rule of law and the principles of accountability and transparency, democracy and pluralism, respect for human rights and empowerment of women and youth.” Needless to say, none of these concepts describe the Palestinian Authority –  a brutal, staggeringly corrupt, authoritarian mafia government over which Abbas has presided for more than a decade after his term technically ended, and which regularly cracks down on any form of dissent, and tortures and occasionally kills its own people.

“To those who claim there is no Palestinian partner for peace and that we do not ‘miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’, I challenge them to demonstrate that we have rejected even once a genuine and serious initiative to achieve peace,” Abbas said. Quite an assertion from a man who has rejected multiple negotiations and serious peace offers, including one by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 to create a Palestinian state on the equivalent of 100% of the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas didn’t even bother responding, and later told a television interviewer he rejected the offer “out of hand.”  He then went on to blow up serious negotiations in 2014, and since then Abbas has simply refused to negotiate at all, pretending that he can bypass Israel via the UN.

Abbas lamented “the absence of a just solution for the plight of 7 million Palestine refugees uprooted from their land in 1948.” Apparently he is confused – there were most certainly not 7 million Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) uses a pernicious and farcical definition of refugee applying solely in the Palestinian case, to ensure that the number of Palestinian “refugees” grows every year.  This is likely how he arrived at this number, although even UNRWA does not claim to have 7 million refugees on its books.

Praising the “pay-for-slay” scheme that rewards terrorist violence and the violent anti-Israel protests across the world this year, Abbas declared that opposing “the Zionist narrative in general is not an act of incitement or antisemitism, but rather the duty of every free man and woman in the world.”

Following a litany of the usual accusations made against Israel – including blaming it for his cancelling the elections he was about to lose to Hamas earlier this year – he threatened to rescind recognition of Israel in its 1967 borders and take Israel to the International Court of Justice if Israel does not “withdraw from the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem” in a year.

Once Israel unilaterally withdraws, Abbas says, he is “ready to work throughout this year on the delineation of borders and solving all final status issues under the auspices of the international Quartet and in accordance with United Nations resolutions.”

If Abbas wanted to discuss a two-state solution rather than the one-state solution he warns about throughout the speech, one would think he wouldn’t have rejected all offers and destroyed all negotiations to date.

Israeli Prime Minister Bennett (Sept. 27) –  Telling a story of success

In contrast to Raisi and Abbas – and also in contrast to the usual style of the UN speeches of his predecessor as Israeli PM, Binyamin Netanyahu – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett focussed his speech on Israel’s successes in combatting COVID-19 and resolving crippling political polarisation, two major problems facing the West today.

Bennett did, however, address the Iranian threat, both its nuclear pursuit as well as its regionally destabilising activities and terrorism. “Israel is, quite literally, surrounded by Hezbollah, Shi’a militias, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas… What do they all have in common? They all want to destroy my country. And they’re all backed by Iran,” he said. “Iran’s great goal is crystal clear to anybody who cares to open their eyes: Iran seeks to dominate the region – and seeks to do so under a nuclear umbrella.”

Giving a much more realistic appraisal of Iran’s regional activities and Raisi’s own bloody pedigree, Bennett described the results of Iran’s foreign policy as “the ‘Mullah-touch.’ Every place Iran touches, fails.”

“Raisi also oversaw the murder of Iranian children. His nickname is ‘the butcher of Teheran,’ because that’s exactly what he did — butchered his own people,” Bennett explained. “He celebrated the murder of his own people by devouring cream cakes. And now Raisi is Iran’s new President. This is who we’re dealing with.”

He also warned Iran’s nuclear program had reached a critical point and words will not prevent it attaining nuclear weapons, something Israel will not allow. “Iran is much weaker, much more vulnerable than it seems,” he asserted. Iran’s activities, including its drone and missile proliferation, are not simply a regional concern. “Experience tells us that what starts in the Middle East, doesn’t stop there.”

He added that Israel has also become more accepted in the region, as reflected by the Abraham Accords and other recent events. Bennett promised more normalisation announcements were in the offing and praised the 38 countries, including Australia, that refused to attend the UN Durban IV conference in September which marked the anniversary of the 2001 Durban “anti-racism” conference which turned into an antisemitic hatefest.

“Alongside our old friends, we are gaining new friends – in the Middle East and beyond”, he said. “Last week, this manifested itself with the defeat of the racist, antisemitic Durban conference. This conference was originally meant to be against racism, but over the years turned into a conference of racism – against Israel and the Jewish people. I thank the 38 countries (38!) who chose truth over lies, and skipped the conference,” Bennett said.

Contrasting Israel with Iran, Bennett proclaimed that “Every member state in this building has a choice. It’s not a political choice, but a moral one. It’s a choice between darkness and light. Darkness that persecutes political prisoners, murders the innocent, abuses women and minorities, and seeks to end the modern world as we know it. Or light – that pursues freedom, prosperity and opportunity.”

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