Ahmadinejad, time for a change of tactics?

WRITTEN BY MARY RIZZO Every time I see Ahmadinejad go to speak at a forum, I start to put my hands in my hair. It is not that I disagree with the man, it’s simply that I can’t figure out why he has still not yet learned how the game works at least where the majority of the world's power structure is located. It is enough for him to be announced as a visitor, be it at Columbia University, the UN General Assembly or an international forum on racism, and all the players line up to go through the motions. While his commentary is generally reasonable, (if one does not mind an ample smattering of religious sentiment within a political discourse, something that I don’t personally find agreeable, although that puts me in the vast minority in the world), almost always factual, citing incidents that are on the public record and common knowledge, it is my opinion (and I hope to stand corrected) that not a single word he has ever said has changed anything for a single Palestinian victim of Zionist ideology. I hate to say it, if anything, the appearance of President Ahmadinejad has provided on a silver platter a new, smashing opportunity for his many opponents to vociferously condemn him, while being able to fit their own discourse in the available news spaces without any possibility for the majority of the general public to be truly informed about what actually was said and done. Israel becomes once again the poor, beleaguered victim of “attacks” and the entire “international community” reinforces their steel-like bond to her. It becomes a “cultural clash” when not simply a circus.

Mercredi 22 Avril 2009

Ahmadinejad, time for a change of tactics?

Just like clockwork.


I begin to wonder if Ahmadinejad understands that his role starts to look awfully much like one of the agent provocateur. I wouldn’t say that he does it intentionally, but it is almost diabolical the way it works every time in the same way, and the question always pops up of who gets the most out of the intervention, seeing that it can only get strong reactions, given the subject matter and the nation the speaker comes from. It might bring him a standing ovation in his own country, which easily identifies with the Palestinian plight, even in a large part of the Muslim world or the Middle East, where this discourse reflects the street and the mass sentiment. It might serve to be a rallying cry to some kind of unity, but in places where the world power lies, which can be classified for easy reference as “The West”, it only seems to backfire according to our rules.


Is it true that the opinion of those outside The West is meaningless? Of course not. Many nations get invited to speak at these forums, and for those with the wherewithal, Brazil, Senegal, Tunisia, Mexico and other nations got to present their speakers to the dozen or so persons who remained after “the prime time show” ended. And what was it, if not theatre, with its Act I, (important nations boycotting given the advance notification that Zionism as an ideology would be considered as racism, just as it was in Durban I), Act II, (important nations storming out during the soliloquy of the lead actor), Act III (important mass media condemning the entire affair). That Brazil, Tunisia and Mexico are every bit as vital to world peace and as Iran is something that the “international community” is not ready to even contemplate, but it is the brand of racism that will be denounced by them that just doesn’t generate much interest. In fact, it would be advantageous for the (largely White) power to keep on ignoring the cries coming from the South. These denouncements might look like border police shooting economic refugees at the Rio Grande or the indigenous people of the Amazon being shuttled into labour camps while industry takes over the habitat. Therefore, it’s a racism that “we” just accept as part of the system, a price that economic development and affluence call upon the poor (who happen to often be non-white) to pay. There would be a lot of nodding at some of the information presented, hand-wringing and determination to “bring change”, but when you are in an empty theatre, shouting “FIRE!” isn’t going to cause a stampede. You need a full house to see some adrenaline and movement.


There was going to be a packed house in Geneva for the speech by Iran’s president, and it was also premeditated to heckle it with clown costumes and cameras aimed at vacant delegations. And, I think this too was part of the set design for Maximum Western Effect. When I throw a dinner party, those who decline the invitation don’t get their seat held for them, especially when there is standing room only! Given the precedent and the pre-Forum declarations of love towards Israel by The West, no one expected The West to tolerate denouncement of its racism against the indigenous people of Palestine either, and if anyone imagined a different reaction to anything Ahmadinejad would say, as long as he sticks to the facts, then I am sad to admit he is dreaming. Everyone at that meeting hates racism, I am sure of it. The problem is that they are Daltonic. As long as the racism is detached from white colonialism and Western Power, no one cares. They can always simply not attend the session, it’s far less dramatic than walking out, where every television station will run that reel to set an image in.


What image was projected? As Gilad Atzmon rightfully states, the image of a deaf, sheepish and prejudiced West, self-righteous and incapable of participating in debate much less understanding the terminology that is going to be used. However, are many people able to see this? I wonder if it is possible that Ahmadinejad himself can’t see that this is what would happen, that his intervention would be twisted into yet another condemnation of his person, alienation of his country and something I consider far worse, hijacking yet again of the Palestinian cause. That he feels for them, I do not doubt for a moment, but allowing Israel to have its victim moment when instead it should be put on trial, just turns the game on its head.


Perhaps this is the problem. Israel is not on trial. It never has been, and it may never be. It is a dream for all who seek justice. “I trust in the law” is what everyone tries to say when it’s clear that they can’t take justice in their own hands. But in the case of Israel, there will be a million complaints filed, but the court clerk doesn’t even protocol them. Ahmadinejad treats these forums as if he is presenting a case. These are not venues for that. They are showcases for Western predominance, because it’s the Western Media busy working to carry the message out.


The Muslim listener will hear many things he or she agrees with at every level, it will probably not galvanise them to action, but it makes them feel good for a few moments. Then that moment passes and all that’s left is an aftertaste of Israeli victimhood, so artfully achieved thanks to these forums.


So what should happen? Should we hope that Ahmadinejad just starts to learn the system and act in a way that is far more clever? I think he could have given a different speech, just as effective, without rattling any of the cages. It would have required a sophistication of terminology and abandonment of rhetoric. It may have had less effect in the Muslim world, but until the Muslim world starts to make itself matter and be heard, anything said will simply be used and abused by the media we are stuck with in The West, which is born to serve The Power.


The alternative is to create our own media and empower it, hoping that the message can get out without the Zionist filter to pollute it, caught unprepared and off-guard, because it is a language they are not trained to counter. This is what we try to do day after day, certainly not succeeding in liberating Palestine, but then again, not being ignored either. I think about how the President of Turkey quoted (among two others) Gilad Atzmon, on the stage of the World Economic Forum. What was the most important was that it was said to the Israeli President, who could only turn red as a response, without the filter of servant mass media or clowns bouncing around. Where did those words that slapped Peres on the face come from? From our media, our creation, our group of writers and readers. Somehow, our views ARE getting out there, a finger in the eye to Zionist power. TO the Zionist power, where it scoffs at the nakedness of the Emperor.


At least that is something. Let’s build on it. It might be our only chance to make some change happen.

Mary Rizzo is an art restorer, translator and writer living in Italy. Editor and co-founder of Palestine Think Tank, co-founder of Tlaxcala translations collective. Her personal blog is Peacepalestine.
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Mercredi 22 Avril 2009

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