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Irwin Cotler


by Rhonda Spivak, September 23, 2012


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in New York City [he is staying at the Warwick Hotel, where there will be protesters denouncing the hotel for allowing him to stay there].

He is being allowed into the US to deliver an address on Yom Kippur of all days. He is being handed a platform from the US State Department  where he will no doubt  incite violence from the center of the UN, not far from Ground Zero. This is a man who advocates genocide against Israel, sponsors terrorism around the world, is on the verge of acquiring a nuclear bomb, works to  commit terrorist attacks on American soil, kills and kidnaps Americans abroad, and brutalizes his own people.

Anne Bayevsky outlines in an article entitled "White House Hands Iran's Ahmadinejad A Global Megaphone", why it is that the United States could have denied Ahmadinejad entry to the  United States just as they had done earlier with Yassir Arafat. As she writes:

 "Many argue that the 1947 Headquarters Agreement between the UN and the U.S. leaves no room for the White House to maneuver on this point. The deal that was struck states that the U.S. government “shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district” (a defined area in New York City’s east side) to a representative of a UN member state.

But the same agreement also says the following: “It is agreed that no form of racial or religious discrimination shall be permitted within the headquarters district.”

... If the agreement were applied as it should be, “no form of racial or religious discrimination” would mean no President Ahmadinejad in New York.

In 1988 Yassir Arafat, then Head of the Palestine Liberation Organization was denied a visa and unimpeded transit when he tried to address the General Assembly, despite the objections of UN legal counsel. The State Department pointed to the "security reservation" that Congress had attached to the resolution which brought the Headquarters Agreement into force. Congress had stipulated that nothing in the agreement diminished or weakened “the right of the United States to safeguard its own security...”

Surely, the security threat posed by aiding and abetting Ahmadinejad is as great or greater than the threat posed by Arafat.

Denying Ahmadinejad a New York launching pad also meets the expectations of the UN Charter itself – since all UN members have “resolved” “to reaffirm faith…in the dignity and worth of the human person,” “to establish conditions under which justice…can be maintained,” and “to employ international machinery for the promotion of…advancement of all peoples.”

But the Obama administration is not enabling Ahmadinejad’s warmongering hate speech just because today’s state department lawyers assert that their hands are tied. Legitimizing the presence of the Iranian president in the United States on the world stage is a key tenet of President Obama’s foreign policy. It goes by various lofty names like 'diplomacy' or 'engagement.' "

On Friday, September 21, former Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, sent a letter to Secretary Clinton and UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon calling on them forcefully to prevent  Ahmadinejad from entering the US and speaking at the UN.  A copy of these compelling letters are set out in full below [and are definitely worth a read].

On September 23, the  US denied entry to 20 Iranian officials who were to be part of Tehran's delegation,7340,L-4284679,00.html. Is it possible that Cotler's pressure and that of others has resulted in the US doing this at least?

The New York Post on Sunday sent  Ahmadinejad a basket brimming with distinctively Jewish delicacies-including  Manishevitz Gefilte fish, and Gold's Borscht - stating that it hoped to "take the edge off his bloodthirsty desire to develop nuclear weapons and wipe Israel off the map."

Here are Cotler's letters:

Friday, September 21, 2012.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

United States of America Department of State

Washington, DC

Dear Madame Secretary:

As you know, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City next Wednesday. While he is not the first war criminal to seek the world stage and will not be the last, the US has the power to refuse him a visa to set foot on American soil. This is a power that my fellow Parliamentarians and myself ask that you exercise in accordance with the US and international principles and precedents in this regard.

While you may feel obligated by virtue of the 1947 US-UN "Headquarters Agreement" to issue visas to all representatives of Member States, the US has drawn a line against allowing Member States or other entities to send as their representatives to the UN individuals who are personally responsible for universally recognized crimes for which no form of international immunity may be given.

In particular, the US refused to issue a visa for Yasser Arafat in 1988 on the ground that he had personally ordered the killing of a US diplomat, an internationally recognized crime, in addition to the crime of murder under US law. In 1987, the US refused to issue a visa to former Secretary General of the UN, Kurt Waldheim, on the ground that he had hidden his personal involvement in participating in the killing of Jews during World War II as a Nazi officer. These precedents surely mandate that President Ahmadinejad should be in the docket of the accused in some international tribunal rather than given a visa to attend the UN.

Indeed, President Ahmadinejad is a classic case study of an inadmissible war criminal who belongs on the US ‘Watchlist’. Simply put, those who "aid terrorists … persecute religious minorities … or commit or incite to genocide" are prohibited from entering the United States, and the evidence of President Ahmadinejad’s criminality on each of these counts is as clear as it is compelling.

In the matter of aiding terrorists, the US State Department, as you appreciate, has once again named Iran as the leading state sponsor

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.