Clinton skates past anti-Semitism at the OIC


Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, addressed the Organization of Islamic States on July 15 in Istanbul.

I’m not sure why, but she skates right by anti-Semtisim in the Muslim world on an occasion when she might have sent a powerful message.

I just came across the speech through Hannah Rosenthal’s Facebook page, which is significant: Rosenthal, State’s anti-Semitism envoy, just spoke with me a few weeks ago about hitting her head against the wall in Muslim countries, trying to get across a message about removing anti-Semitic tropes from textbooks.

Clinton’s speech is geared toward thanking the OIC for helping in March to pass a resolution through the U.N. Human Rights Council that, according to Human Rights First, "seeks to address violence, discrimination and incitement to religious hatred without reference to the controversial notion of ‘defamation of religions.’"

That was supposedly a key breakthrough — a pushback against attempts by Iran and others to get the Danish Mohammed cartoons, for instance, classified as a human rights abuse. That was a scary, Orwellian prospect: Use human rights as a pretext to suppress expression.

Here’s Clinton:

Together we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression, and we are pursuing a new approach based on concrete steps to fight intolerance wherever it occurs. Under this resolution, the international community is taking a strong stand for freedom of expression and worship, and against discrimination and violence based upon religion or belief.

So, fine, Clinton thanks the OIC for backing a resolution that might a year or so go have seemed against its own interests, even though it’s kind of a "duh:" yes, expression and violence are not the same thing.

Here’s where it gets weird. She’s in Istanbul. She’s talking to Muslims:

In Europe, we are seeing communities coming together to address both the old scourge of anti-Semitism and the new strains of anti-Muslim bias that continue to undermine the continent’s democratic ideals. Across the Middle East and Asia, we look to both people and leaders to resist the incitement of extremists who seek to inflame sectarian tensions, and reject the persecution of religious minorities such as the Copts or Ahmadis or Baha’is.

This anti-Semitism thing: it’s not just in Europe, as Hannah’s frustrations testify. And it’s not just nasty textbooks — Hannah’s recounting of the difficulties of Lebanon’s Jewish community in refurbishing a synagogue are a moving example. And incidents like this one persist.

What makes that ostensible omission more acute is that Clinton is not shy about scoring Muslim nations for persecuting other minorities.

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