Diplomats Trade Insults in Security Council Fight
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
UNITED NATIONS – A verbal brawl erupted at the Security Council yesterday as it debated the subject of terrorism. During the skirmish, Syria accused Israel of starting World Wars I and II, as well as “contemplating” a third world war.
The anti-Semitic outburst by the Syrian representative, Ahmad Alhariri, as well as allegations by his Iranian colleague, Ahmad Sadeghi, countered comments from Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, who said both Syria and Iran are part of an “axis of terror” that would pit them against a group of anti-terrorism “allies” in a “World War III.”
Both Syria and Iran are listed by the State Department as terrorist-supporting regimes. During the weekend, armed Lebanese militias backed by the two countries shot rockets over the Israeli border that hit deeper in Israel’s northern region than ever before. In retaliation, Israeli planes attacked several strategic terrorist targets in southern Lebanon as well as in the eastern Baka’a valley, near the Syrian border.
Secretary-General Annan released a statement on the exchange after Lebanon requested a cease-fire. Diplomats considered the statement even-handed, but it failed to mention a Security Council resolution that called on all Lebanese militias, including the most well-organized, Hezbollah, to be disarmed by the Lebanese government.
“Iran uses Hezbollah to fight its war by proxy,” Mr. Gillerman told the council yesterday, speaking during a speech at a periodic session evaluating international counterterrorism efforts. “We hold not only the government of Lebanon fully responsible for all terrorist activity initiated from its territory, but also hold responsible the governments of Iran and Syria for harboring and supporting Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.”
The “axis of terror is alive and active,” Mr. Gillerman said. “Leaders of Hamas meet regularly with, and have been offered financial assistance by, the president of Iran. The very same president who calls for the annihilation of another member state denies the Holocaust and is attempting to develop the nuclear capabilities to perpetrate the next one.”
The world “is no longer divided between rich and poor and north and south,” Mr. Gillerman added. “It is divided between those who join in this fight and those who do not.”
His speech was part of an open session during which nonmembers of the 15-member council can ask for the floor. The president of the council in formed its members that Iran and Syria asked to join the debate. The two countries accused Israel of conducting “state terrorism” and being founded as a terrorist entity.
“Ever since its inception, [Israel] suffered from a lack of legitimacy,” the Iranian representative, Mr. Sadeghi, said. Further, he added, Israel’s “nuclear danger and its missile capability” present a “real threat not only to the regional peace and security but also to the whole world.”
Mr. Gillerman then asked to make a brief reply, in which he said he was glad the two countries asked to join the debate, apparently in response to his speech. As a result, he said, the council was able to “hear lectures about terrorism from two of the greatest experts on that subject.”
Mr. Alhariri of Syria subsequently declared that the “suffering in the world is because of Israel.” In his statement, Mr. Gillerman mentioned World War III “three times,” Mr. Alhariri added, citing a UNESCO statement that “war always starts in the minds of human beings.”
Therefore, he said, “It appears that Israel is contemplating this. And if we consider this we will find the reasons for World Wars I and II.”
While Israel did not exist during the periods in which the two great wars took place at the heart of Europe, some anti-Semites have faulted Jews in the past for their own suffering during what has since been universally recognized as the Holocaust. Rarely, however, has anyone publicly repeated the assertions by the perpetrator of the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler, who in “Mein Kampf” blamed Jews for World War I.
In an article published yesterday, President Ahmadinejad of Iran told a Der Spiegel interviewer, “Did the Holocaust actually take place? You answer this question in the affirmative. So, the second question is: Whose fault was it? The answer to that has to be found in Europe and not in Palestine. It is perfectly clear: If the Holocaust took place in Europe, one also has to find the answer to it in Europe. On the other hand, if the Holocaust didn’t take place, why then did this regime of occupation come about? Why do the European countries commit themselves to defending this regime?”