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Politics or Principle

By Hank Levy

United Nations Week, attended by the world’s leaders is always accompanied by protestors. And with any leader able to address the UN General Assembly, there is always drama. Maybe it’s Yasser Arafat wearing his kaffiyeh and his gun. Or Khruschev pounding his shoe on a desk. Or Hugo Chavez cursing George Bush [who says Osama bin Laden and democrats ever had a monopoly on that]. Or Ahmadinejad threatening to wipe Israel off the map. Jewish groups have lead the protests against this latest Hitler in training, and people from all backgrounds, religions and political persuasions have gladly joined together in this effort … that is until now.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations had Senator Hillary Clinton scheduled to be one of the many speakers at a protest rally across from the UN. Then they invited Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin to speak as well. Was this a stroke of genius? Imagine the world press, following Palin’s every move, giving international coverage of the rally against the world’s premier holocaust denier and threat to nuclear sanity. It seemed like a PR home run.

They didn’t reckon on Hillary Clinton, always so outspoken on this central issue, a core issue, an issue of principle. They didn’t figure that for some people there are things that transcend principle – and so it was for Hillary Clinton who decided that political considerations meant throwing principles into the trash heap. Clinton was apparently outraged at the Palin “maneuver”. One could only imagine that Obama was doubly outraged and most likely beside himself. Palin must not be allowed to speak on a matter of conscience. She could not be seen as a forceful leader with strong views championing America and Israel. Heaven only knows what political pressure was exerted to get Palin “disinvited” but suffice it to say it worked.

It seems a shame that Americans can rarely witness images of their leaders agreeing on issues even when they actually agree on the issues. Perhaps the image of McCain and Obama at Ground Zero on September 11th, walking together, saluting the first responders and comforting the bereaved families was just a one shot deal. Too bad, because Americans want and demand more. We want to show unity and solidarity when it is essential and not the BS associated with political campaigns and politics as usual.

We truly want and demand more of our representatives. It diminishes us all when that is thwarted. In that respect it was a sad day for the rally organizers, for Hillary Clinton, the Democrat party and us.

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