Comments by David G. Littman, NGO Representative of the Association for World Education (AWE) and World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), to the United Nations in Geneva:
Robert Spencer’s excellent FrontPage article “˜The UN”s Jihad Against Free Speech“, also posted on Jihad Watch on April 3, reminded me of what I witnessed at the UN Commission on Human Rights in the 1990s and have written about since then — “˜Blasphemy” in 1997, followed by a resolution on “Defamation of Islam” in 1999, introduced by Pakistan. While threatening dire reactions if the resolution was not adopted, the OIC was obliged to modify the word “Islam” to “Religions”, although only Islam was named — and this has not changed for a decade. I well remember widely circulating a handwritten page with a pertinent saying by William Pitt the Younger in 1805, after Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz: “Roll up that map of Europe it won’t be needed these next ten years.” And I added: If “Defamation of Religions” is adopted, then: “Roll up that map of the Human Rights Commission, it won’t be needed these next ten years.” The Commission collapsed seven years later (2006) and the Council is staggering along, as it continues its trek to the Durban Review Conference in two weeks at the Palais des Nations, just across the lake from where Mary Shelley created Frankenstein.
On March 6 — following advice from the HRC secretary — The Vice-President of the HRC, Canadian Ambassador Grinius stopped me as I denounced the Defamation of Judaism and Jews by ISESCO (OIC). My last sentence remained unspoken: “Such grave matters can no longer be ignored here. It is high time for the international community to act firmly against the promotion of hate. We look to this Council — with its concern for defamation of religion — to lead the way during this 10th session.”
This scandalous affair — the ambassador had followed the advice on “˜procedure” from the HRC secretary — was picked up by the media. An assistant to the Canadian prime minister called me to express regret for what had happened and asked for my version of the incident. Obliged to be in London for a special event, he found me at the East India Club in St James”s Square, close to the exact place where the Prince of Wales (the future King George IV) received the news that the Battle of Waterloo had been won by Wellington. I referred to this and added that all NGOs were looking to Canada for a clear victory in the latest Battle for freedom of expression at the UN Human Rights Council and elsewhere.
My appeal was heard, a fair decision was taken by the prime minister, which was widely covered in the Canadian media. This did not stop the HRC secretary from justifying his advice to the Vice-President. (More on all this another time.)
Now to my main point concerning this decade of “˜blasphemy”, “˜defamation” and “˜Islamophobia”. Two days ago, I came across an oral statement I delivered in 2000 (NGOs had ten minutes to speak then, now only three — and sometimes a symbolic 120 seconds).
I felt it worthwhile reprinting to illustrate how Arab-Muslim “˜Defamation of Judaism” / “˜Judeophobia” was never seriously addressed at the UN Commission, nor at the Council since then. While following and writing on this “˜blasphemy” and “˜defamation” game by the OIC and its allies at the UN, it became clear after the December 2005 Third Mecca Islamic Summit that the OIC is pursuing a worldwide strategy — what Bat Ye”or has so aptly called in articles and in her forthcoming book: The Triumphant March of the Universal Caliphate.
* * * * *
ASSOCIATION FOR WORLD EDUCATION
STATEMENT by David G. LITTMAN — Thursday (5:00 p.m.), 23 March 2000
UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS — 56th session (20 March-28 April 2000) Chairman: Ambassador Shambhu Ram SIMICHADA (Nepal)
Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia; all forms of discrimination
Defamation of religions (item 6)
1) Defamation of Religions:1999/82 — Sudan / 1994 — Islam/Islamism/Rushdie Syndrome/OIC
2) Defamation of Judaism: 1840 “Damascus Affair”/ Blood Libel — at UN (1991) & TODAY
Mr. Chairman, last year we expressed strong opposition to the proposal for a resolution, titled: “Defamation of Islam”, maintaining our position regarding what finally became resolution 1999/82: “Defamation of Religions”. We felt that such a resolution could eventually be used to condemn anyone for almost anything. Thus, at the Commission, on 17 Feb.1994, the delegation of the Sudan circulated a text which I have here, titled: “Attack on Islam”, and an official letter, dated 18 Feb. 1994, calling Special Rapporteur Gaspar Biro’s Report a “vicious attack on the religion of Islam.” [Â§59, 60, 61, 133 (a)]
The reason for this was that Dr. Biro had indicated inconsistencies between the international human rights conventions (to which Sudan has been a signatory party since 1986) and some provisions of Sudan’s Criminal Act of 1991 which follow the Shari”a. This move was preceded by a death threat against him, published in the government’s newspaper New Horizon (AFP, 14 February 1994), which is also available on request.
These growing tendencies were amply covered in two substantive articles: one circulated a year ago, the other last August at the Sub-Commission. Both are available for members, and are outside on the table. [David G. Littman, “Universal Human Rights and ‘Human Rights in Islam'”, Midstream, February-March 1999; David G. Littman, “Islamism Grows Stronger at the United Nations”, Middle East Quarterly, Sept. 1999]
But Commission resolution 1999/82 exists and we shall abide by it. Operative Â§3 states: “Also expresses deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights and with terrorism.” Indeed, we share that deep concern — which is why we have always distinguished between Islam and Islamism, and we would heartily encourage more representatives to make the same distinction loud and clear here, and not just outside these precincts.
In this same spirit, the Association for World Education sent a recent letter [18 Feb. 2000] to the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), titled: “APPEAL TO THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE: THE RUSHDIE FATWA MUST BE REVOKED BY THE OIC. This text and a detailed written Statement [E/CN.4/1999/NG0/43] are also available for members, and on the table outside.
This is a classic case of an unholy defamation of a religion… of Islam! We, therefore, call on the OIC and the Commission to address this gangrening “Rushdie Syndrome”, otherwise the world will be led astray into believing that all the OIC countries approve of this arbitrary death sentence on British writer Salman Rushdie, to be carried out by any Muslim or non-Muslim, with a bounty of: $3 million.
The second case concerns a very grave example of a defamation of a religion — Judaism — which occurred at this very Commission in 1991, but was not sanctioned at the time. As a historian, I was tempted to record the matter, but restrained myself. However, when I learned recently that this crude defamation — an abject racist legacy of hatred — was still being propagated at some of the highest Syrian echelons, I decided to write a substantive, factual article, titled: “Syria’s Blood Libel Revival at the UN: 1991-2000” which has just appeared in the New York periodical Midstream, also available outside. The infamous Father Thomas “Damascus Affair” Blood Libel was used here at the Commission on 8 February 1991, when the representative of Syria, holding The Matzah of Zion” [6th ed. 1991], prefaced by Syria’s Minister of Defence since 1972, Major-General Mustapha Tlass, declared: “We should like to urge all members of the Commission to read this very important work that demonstrates unequivocally the historical reality of Zionist racism.”
Here is a quote from General Tlass’s preface: “The Jew can kill you and take your blood in order to make his Zionist bread. I hope that I have done my duty in presenting the practices of the enemy of our historic nation. Allah aid this project.” And also this: “Here opens before us a page even more ugly than the crime itself — the religious beliefs of the Jews and the destructive perversions they contain, which draw their orientation from a dark hate toward all humankind and all religions.”
In an interview last summer in Paris, General Tlass was reported by France-Pays Arabes [July-Aug. 1999] as again expressing his conviction about the truth of the “Damascus Affair” blood libel.
On 2 Nov. 1999, the Syrian Writer’s Association weekly (Al-Usbu ‘Al-Adabi), a state-controlled organ, published an article by Jbara Al-Barghuth,: “Shylock of New York and the Industry of Death”. Two ghastly quotations may be found in our text translated from the Arabic by the MEMRI:
The Talmud’s instructions, soaked in hatred and hostility toward humanity, are [stamped] in the Jewish soul. Throughout history, the world has known more than one Shylock… more than one Toma as a victim of these Talmudic instructions and this hatred (…) Israel’s Matzah will continue to steep in blood, the spilling of which is permitted in the Talmud in order to glorify the military. This is because the Jews have more than one God, in contrast to their claim that they are monotheists.
Mr. Chairman, if this — and these are not the only obscenities being used in the Middle East, and elsewhere, about Judaism as a religion — is not to be condemned under resolution 1999/82, then what more is needed to qualify? We call on this Commission to take a concrete decision on this grave matter. Yesterday, under item 5, we appealed to the Pope, now in Israel, for the removal of the libelous commemorative stone plaque from the Terra Sancta Church in Damascus. What is needed today is a gesture confirming that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are destined to become true partners in a Middle Fast Peace brotherhood. As genuine hopes for a Middle East Peace Progress grow, including the negotiations between Syria and Israel, it is time to sweep away the last remains of ignorance and fanaticism, and the vindictive spirit of persecution as symbolized in the “Damascus Affair” Blood Libel. In this respect, we are also appealing to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — whose presence here one hour ago we warmly welcomed — to raise the matter with President Clinton. so that he may pass this idea on to President Hafez Assad directly,when they meet on Sunday in Geneva. Then one could say, as it was so well expressed by Lieutenant Charles Shadwell after his visit to Damascus on 11 August 1840 when he saw the libelous stone plaque that had been erected by the French consul Ratti-Menton:
Magna est veritas et praevalebit —
Truth is powerful and will ultimately prevail.