Monday, January 19, 2009

Kofi Annan Is Still Echoing In Our Ears

Back in 2002, in the aftermath of the IDF entry into Jenin and the worldwide outcry against the "Jenin massacre," Kofi Annan asked: Can the whole world be wrong?. After the dust settled and the world finally bothered to look at the facts about Jenin, it turned out that yes, the world was wrong.

Now, in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead with accusations against Israel and Anti-Semitic global protests against Jews, the likes of which I don't know if have ever been seen--once again the implication is: Can the whole world be wrong?

In 2002, Sara Yoheved Rigler wrote a response to Annan--a response that is appropriate to Israel's critics and the Anti-Semites who have taken to the streets.

Can The Whole World Be Wrong

Speaking from Madrid, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan reiterated his demand that Israel immediately terminate its campaign against terrorism. Citing the opposition to Israel from China through Europe to the United States, Mr. Annan declared: "Can the whole world be wrong?"

I wish to remind Mr. Annan: Some 3,800 years ago, the whole world worshipped pantheons of disparate forces embodied as various gods. A single individual, Abraham, claimed that all existence emanated from one, indivisible, incorporeal God. Abraham was labeled Ha'Ivri ("the Hebrew"), meaning that he came from the other side.

While this appellation may have had a geographical origin (he came from the other side of the Euphrates River), Jewish tradition understands "other side" in the sense of an adversarial position: While the whole world adhered to polytheism, Abraham insisted on the truth of monotheism.

"Can the whole world be wrong?"

In the fourth century BCE, the Greek Empire stretched from Macedonia to India, the entire "civilized" world. With Greek political domination came the hegemony of Greek culture and philosophy. The whole world accepted the Greek worldview with man at the center and the physical world as ultimate reality. A small band of Jews, known as the Maccabees, refused to succumb. They insisted that God was the source and that a deeper spiritual connection was the goal of life.

"Can the whole world be wrong?"

In the ancient world, including the advanced civilizations of Greece and Rome, infanticide was universally practiced. Newborns who were unwanted, because they were weak or handicapped (or girls), were killed by their parents or left to die of exposure. The Jews insisted that all life was sacred, and condemned infanticide as murder.

"Can the whole world be wrong?"

Compassion for the poor and infirm, built into the commandments of the Torah, was scorned as weakness by societies from ancient Greece to modern Nazi Germany. The Nazis instituted a program called "T-4," which systematically set out to kill all physically and mentally disabled persons.

"Can the whole world be wrong?"

From 1939-1945, the whole world claimed that immigration quotas made it impossible to accept Jews trying to flee the Nazis. The British turned away shiploads of Jewish refugees trying to find shelter in Palestine. Even President Roosevelt, "a friend of the Jews," refused to order the bombing of the train tracks leading to Auschwitz, which would have saved the 400,000 Jews of Hungary.

"Can the whole world be wrong?"

June 1981 - A daring Israeli Air Force raid destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. Israeli intelligence maintained that the reactor was about to be loaded with highly enriched uranium, and that radioactive fallout of any later raid might have decimated Baghdad. International condemnation was fast and furious, and an emergency session was convened of the United Nations Security Council. Sen. Mark Hatfield of Oregon called Israel's attack "one of the most provocative, ill-timed and internationally illegal actions taken in that nation's history." A decade later as the Gulf War began, and a decade after that as America prepared to oust Saddam Hussein, the international community was ever grateful for Israel's strike at Osirak.

"Can the whole world be wrong?"

April 2002 - After a rash of suicide bombings which leave 127 Israeli civilians (including babies and entire families) dead in a single month, the government of Israel launches a defensive campaign against the terrorists and their infrastructure. Israeli forces uncover scores of bomb factories, with suicide belts already prepared, and large stashes of illegal munitions and rockets. Kofi Annan and the whole world insists that Israel has no right to defend itself.

"Can the whole world be wrong?"

Not to belabor the point, but the world was wrong then--and it still is now.

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