Herb Keinon, the only witness in the crowd

There are times when it seems as if the world has gone completely mad and nobody seems to notice.


General Dwight D. Eisenhower made certain that the atrocities committed by the Nazis were carefully documented and filmed so that generations to come would know the truth.  Only seven years prior to the liberation of Europe and the horrifying revelation of the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler was named Time Magazine's 'Man of The Year.'  The world press never seemed to fully understand the evil incarnate that spewed forth from 'The Fuhrer,' maybe they weren't paying attention or maybe they just didn't care.  Nothing worth reporting, it was just Hitler being Hitler.


'Never again.'  Have those words lost their meaning in an age when rabid Holocaust deniers are allowed to spew their poison from the floor of the United Nations?  In a chilling report from Astana, Kazakhstan, Jerusalem Post correspondent Herb Keinon gives the world a wake-up call.


It's creepy, actually, the thought of sitting in the same building with today's incarnation of evil, with a man who, if just could, would love to incinerate me and mine and all that is dear to me.  It is foul, actually, knowing you are sharing air space with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


The mind runs wild in this type of scenario-with Ahmadinejad, on the first floor of the shimmering blue Palace of Independence in the Kazakhstan capital, being politely received by leaders representing more than half of humanity, and you sequestered in the media center one floor above, and a thousand security guards away.


Herb Keinon reflects on what it would be like to be covering a conference in the 1930's in which Adolf Hitler was the keynote speaker, then refocuses his attention on Iran's twenty-first century version of the Fuhrer.  Keinon continues to observe the bizarre happenings.


What is creepier still is to watch Ahmadinejad on a movie-theatre sized screen in the media center, looking so human, so matter-of-fact, as he spews his venom about the West and Israel, with his words translated by someone with a soothing voice and a British accent.  There he goes again, talking about how for the last 60-plus years Zionism has wrought nothing but disaster and humiliation on the Palestinians and on the Middle East.


Herb Keinon was surrounded by 300 journalists from around the world who were gathered to cover the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  As Ahmadinejad engaged in his poisonous rant, Keinon was stunned by the indifference of his fellow journalists.  Nobody in the room really cared what Ahmadinejad was ranting about, nobody seemed to be paying attention, some were daydreaming, some were reading.  The Ahmadinejad history of Western atrocities and the horrors that Zionism has inflicted upon the people of the Middle East go unnoticed.


Checking the Web an hour after Ahmadinejad's rant, Keinon finds no mention of the hate-filled attack on Israel.  There was an AFP report which mentioned the Iranian president's latest tirade against the West and the "creation of 9/11" as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and a few other odds and ends.  Later in the day there would be stories about Ahmadinejad's proposed post-Soviet security pact.


But nary a word about his attack on Zionism.  That's all just Ahmadinejad being Ahmadinejad.  At least for the world.


But for the lone Israeli Jew in the crowd it's more than that-it's a disgrace.  A disgrace compounded tenfold by the silence of the other world leaders sitting impassively while listening to his despicable comments, and an ugly reminder of the sad truth of the first part of Hillel's famous admonition: "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me."


June 16, 2011



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