Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is coming to town again. This visit to New
York, as last year's and the one the year before, is on the occasion of
the annual convening of the United Nations General Assembly, to which
meetings many heads-of-state come with enormous entourages eager to get
out of their own countries.
New York is a special treat for the high politicians of poor countries. They can shop, screw up traffic, eat in the international style at enormous expense. It is also big business for the luxury hotels and the limousine services. Only God knows what percentage of their gross national products goes to waste in the big city. How much less these sessions would cost if they were held, say, (to take three at random) in Barmako or Bangui or Banjil, let alone how much would be added to the local economies. But, then, there is the risk that no one would come at all. What kind of party could one have in Barmako? Would the press even come? I doubt it. Actually, I believe that were headquarters of the U.N. not to be in New York (or perhaps London or Paris) the whole portentous edifice would collapse.
But Ahmadinejad has a real political purpose in coming. He can humiliate the United States and some of its prestigious institutions. Two years ago he had members of the Council on Foreign Relations (either big givers or men and women who used to have high profiles) eating out of his hand, including many Jews who came out of the meeting telling their friends they had told him a thing or two. Last year, he made a fool out of Lee Bollinger) right there at a public assembly on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University.
Some of this year's prey have already signed up for a feast. The Mennonite Church has invited Ahmadinejad to dinner on September 25, a A'jad has accepted. Other religious bodies organizing the dinner are the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace (as opposed to that other organization, Religions for War) and the American Friends Service Committee, the Quakers. Other communions are expected to send representatives, as well. The group had already met with the Iranian president on his last visit to the U.N. That session was held in a chapel at U.N. headquarters. Presumably, their discussion was very spiritual. Or did he perhaps talk about the Holocaust and how Israel should be annihilated? By the way, how do the Quakers deal with this kind of threat? Do they elder him?
In the meantime, on Friday, according to Ha'aretz, Ahmadinejad told Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah that Iran would stand behind the Palestinian nation "until the big victory feast which is the collapse of the Zionist regime." Perhaps we can think of his meal with the collection of sanctimonious religious groups as the forshpeis.