Thursday, March 21, 2002
--Each PR statement is divided into paragraphs.
--Some paragraphs mention Israel or the Palestinians, and others don't.
--I count the number of paragraphs that mention Israel/Palestinians, and divide by the total number of paragraphs.
--This generates what I call the "pig-pile ratio," which is positively correlated with the amount of time that nations like Libya, China, and Algeria spend pig-piling onto Israel at the conference.
March 20: 18 paragraphs out of 35 = 52% pig-piling on Israel
March 21: 18 paragraphs out of 40 = 45% pig-piling on Israel
Hey! 18 is "chai." Is there a double agent in the UN public relations office?
Representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the Arab League), Cuba, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Guatemala, India, Vietnam, South Africa, Armenia, Bahrain, and Chile addressed the meeting. Vietnam announced that it would divide in two again, to provide self-determination for its southern half. Sudan announced the immediate cessation of its slave trade, saying that failing to do so would deny thousands of Sudanese Christians the most basic form of self-determination.
Just kidding about those last two sentences. Actually, the Sudanese delegate spent his time lamenting the fate of the Palesinian people. As did Syria. As did Egypt. As did Saudi Arabia. As did Vietnam. As did Bahrain. As did Algeria, explaining that: "Attempts to revive the peace process had failed since Israel had not complied with the demands of the international community. The only hope was that those who were in favour of peaceful dialogue should sit at the same table, but racism and hatred needed to be condemned. There had been several threats within the Israeli Government to actually physically remove the Palestinian people. The behaviour was on par with that of concentration camps."
India also spoke movingly about self-determination for the Palestinians, noting that India was deeply committed to self-determination given its own relatively decolonization. But self-determination in, say, Kashmir would be folly: "Taken out of context, self-determination could be abused by interested parties to encourage secession and undermine multi-ethnic, pluralistic and democratic States. Pakistan, whose own people had been deprived of their democratic rights for most of its history, ruled part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir illegally."
Israel is allowed a representative who can respond in these meetings. According to the UN's press relears, the Rep responded today that:
Israel fully agreed, surprisingly, with one matter stated by the representative of Syria -- that it was difficult to live through 50 years of violence. Syria had in fact inflicted such violence on Israel, starting 50 years ago. Terrorism against Israel had started long before the Israeli occupation in 1967; and hundreds of Israelis had been killed and thousands wounded. Syria had long served as a base for terrorist groups carrying out such attacks. In any case, a Government that killed en masse its own citizens should be the last to lecture any other country on human rights. In response to other countries that had spoken, Israel reiterated that self-determination and achievement of Palestinian rights would not be won through violence but through peaceful negotiations.
In its resolution 2001/38, the Commission decided to remain seized of this matter.
I wonder what the Commission will spend its time on? A quick perusal of the agenda offers some hints. Here is a list of countries mentioned by name in the agenda, along with the paragraphs where they are cited:
Colombia (paragraph 13)
Israel (paragraphs 17, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40)
Cyprus (paragraphs 38; 65)
Serbia/Bosnia/Herzegovina/Yugoslavia (44, 45)
Congo (52, 53)
Sierra Leone (55)
Equatorial Guinea (59)
East Timor (63)
And of course this doesn't include the numerous paragraphs that cite the Durban Racism conference, suggesting that these parts of the agenda will be as objective and balanced towards Israel as that conference of last summer.
The Council of Ministers has passed a new law barring a long list of top civil servants and security officials from marrying foreigners without permission from the king, Al-Watan reported yesterday.
This prohibition also applies to ordinary Saudi citizens who are studying overseas. I guess this is an effort to stem the huge tide of people who are clamoring to live in the Kingdom.