Last week I wrote about a high Iranian official’s anti-Jewish remarks and suggested that they consituted a threat and incitement to genocide. Yesterday (July 3), the State Department finally issued a statement in the name of spokeswoman Victoria Nuland:
We strongly condemn Iranian First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi’s vile anti-Semitic and racist comments on June 26 at the International Day Against Drug Abuse conference in Tehran. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has confirmed that the conference was not held under UN auspices, nor did officials in attendance have any idea that Rahimi would level such offensive charges. Both UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov registered their dismay and serious concern over Rahimi’s anti-Semitic speech and issued a statement July 3 calling on Iranian officials to refrain from these kinds of anti-Semitic statements.
It is strange that it took more than a week for State to notice, and that the statement was made by Nuland and not Secretary of State Clinton. After all, since June 26, Ms Clinton had time to comment on the Solomon Islands’ and Venezuelan independence days, the national days of the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia and Burundi, and of course Canada day; speak at the dedication of Sumner Welles Street in Riga, Latvia; speak at the Climate Clean Air and Green Embassy event in Helsinki, Finland; and much more. She also gave interviews to NPR and CNN during which she did not mention the affair.
The last sentence of the press release is very misleading. Ban-Ki Moon publicly condemned Rahimi’s remarks on the day after they were made. So did the EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, no particular friend of Israel. And so did the Italian Foreign Minister and the UK Foreign Office.
So why did our State Department wait 8 days to notice? And why was the statement made by Nuland and not our own “Foreign Minister?”
The statement that the conference “was not held under UN auspices” is mysterious. UN officials were present, as were European diplomats (some of whom expressed shock at Rahimi’s remark). Original reports said it was “co-sponsored by the UN and Iran.” The impression is unavoidable that the State Department is more concerned about the possibility of a slur against the UN — which for once appears innocent — than about the Iranian’s Hitlerist remarks.
It is embarrassing that the US, given the Obama Administration’s constant repetition of its ‘unbreakable bonds’ with Israel should be so late and tepid in its response. It is not so surprising, though, given the administration’s practical actions to distance itself from Israel.