A SHOUT FOR THE VOICELESS
8 May, 2009
Speech of Pilar Rahola,
Receiving the Mass Media Award, 2009.
Awarded by American Jewish Commitee.
Good Morning, dear friends of AJC.
It is a great honour for me to be here today to receive this special Award.
When, several months ago, David Harris called me to announce AJC´s decision to grant me the Mass Media Award 2009, I answered that I didn´t know if I deserved it. My reply was not a simple gesture of courtesy. I am sure, there are many people in the world who fight for our values -Freedom, Tolerance, Peace-, in worse conditions than me. Especially, there are some great women in Muslim countries who fight for human rights, putting in serious danger their own lives. I am only a journalist who does what she thinks is right. A woman committed with her time and her society. This is my only merit, to have committed myself in the struggle against the threats facing us. Why? Because, it is my duty.
Thank you very much for recognizing my humble work.
Also, I feel especially honoured to accept this recognition, because it is awarded by the American Jewish Committee, an organization which is a symbol in the struggle for civil rights. It is precisely due to that, to what AJC means, that I would like to convert my little "thank you" text, into a denouncing shout.
We live in a time of challenges and threats. Maybe, again..., the Time of Fear. In the Twentieth Century, Mankind had to fight against two kinds of totalitarianism, Stalinism and Nazism, both different but, in essence, both equal. Now, in the Twenty-first Century, we suffer the assaults of a new though similar enemy: Islamic extremism. The ideology has changed. It no longer uses the concept of the "New Soviet Man", nor of the "Aryan Pure Blood", but instead it uses the name of God in vain. It neither lives in the extreme right, nor in the extreme left, but it has learned from both extremisms. Its origin, its methods and its objectives are different, but it shares the essence with its sinister models: the use of indiscriminate terror, the hatred of freedom and the love of Death. Like its predecessors, it is anti-Western and deeply Anti-Semite, because the Jewish people have been, throughout History, the metaphore of Freedom itself. This new Totalitarian Ideology has enslaved where it has dominated, and has filled with dead bodies the map of the world. That is why the old words of Albert Camus have a renewed meaning: "All the history of the world is the history of freedom".
And yet, are all the leading players in this history of freedom doing the right thing? I do not think so. If these words want to be a shout, it's a denouncing shout. A denunciation against the Chamberlains of the Twenty-first Century, guilty, like the Chamberlain of the Twentieth Century, of looking towards the other side, of remaining silent, or of being directly guilty of accepting totalitarian evil.
The first Chamberlain of the Twenty-first Century is the United Nations, whose capacity to defend human rights, denounce atrocious dictatorships and help the weakest, is nil. That is why it is not capable of confronting tragedies such as Darfur's and is incapable of defending women opressed by Islam. But it is capable of inviting, to a summit against intolerance, an Islamofascist who keeps women in apartheid, kills homosexuals hates Jews and promotes the destruction of Israel. And does this in Europe, on the Shoah's Anniversary! Martin Luther King said: "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity." Indeed, the United Nations is only useful to approve resolutions against a small country faced with a situation of permanent risk, Israel. And it forgets that Israel is the only ally of the Democratic Palestinian people. The only true ally. But the United Nations doesn't care about the truth. It prefers to target Israel, because, we all know that criticizing Israel is free. Do you remember Eleanor Roosevelt, that great lady of the Twentieth Century, founding member of the United Nations and President of the committee that wrote the Human Rights Charter? What would she think if she saw what the United Nations has turned into? Unfortunately it has turned into its very worst caricature.
The second Chamberlain is found where the intelligence ought to reside: in the universities, in the Mass Media, and in the intellectual world. Far from having an army of thinkers who may alert against totalitarian dangers, we have a long list of intellectuals and journalists obsessed against Israel, and at the same time, blind, deaf and dumb before any totalitarian atrocity. We have lived the Ruandan and Sudanese tragedies, with thousands of dead each and they have remained in silence. We are living the permanent massacre of muslims, at the hands of Islamic Fundamentalism, ... and they remain in silence. We live the enslavement of millions of women, and they remain in silence. But if a victim falls under American or Israeli bullets, then they raise their voice and damn to hell the "Evil country". These intellectuals are the inventors of a new, politically correct anti-semitism, disguised as solidarity, and with a clean conscience. And yet, their hatred of Israel is one of the strongest allies of jihadist victimism. That new anti-semitism has come into being in Europe and in Latin America in such a way, that it is today a substantial part of the leftist ideology. That's why, the credibility of the left as a fighter of Freedom, has fallen apart. Today, the majority of the left has lost its progressive goals, and has abandoned its ethical values. It only serves to deny Israel and to repeat propaganda.
In Spain this anti-Semitic attitude has become almost "single thinking", to the extent of turning it into the most neo-anti-semitic country in Europe. Most Spanish newspapers deny credibility to Israel, youths burn flags bearing the Magen David, demonstrators shout in favour of Hamas and debate is refused. Those of us who defend Israel's right to exist, are demonized in many forums and websites and even threatened. Despite it all, I am optimistic. Because an army of silent Spanish citizens begins to believe that Israel is not so bad, but they are still hidden in the closet. In Spain, as in many other places, speaking in favour of Israel is not well seen.
The last Chamberlain is the Realpolitik of democratic countries, prisoners of their energy needs. Because of that dependency, implacable dictatorships which opress their societies, are tolerated. And the opression of millions of Muslim women subjugated by terrible laws is tolerated. If the hatred of Israel is one of the great shames of the world, forgetting the muslim women is another great shame. We are not worried by their pain, because we have decided not to see them. Would the free world tolerate the opression of black citizens today? Now, that the United States has a black President, would Barak Obama tolerate a new racist South Africa? Then, why does it seem natural that there are tens of islamic countries which segregate women, the very same way that South Africa used to do with the Black population? Why do the women of Islam fight such a lonely struggle? Why don't we hear the voice of the Iranian leader for women's rights, Shirin Ebadi? Why don't we hear the Palestinian Samia Tamimi, who struggles for women´s rights under the tyranny of Hamas, or the Somali fighter Ayan Hirsi Ali? Why don't we listen to the Bengali Taslima Nasreen, who has to survive with three death fatwas? Or the Afghan leader, Fawzia Koofi who has denounced President Karzai's new "Shia state law", which will permit marriage of under-age girls and allow rape in marriage? And so many others, authentic heroines of our time, whose suffering due to hatred, intolerance and opression unite them with the Jews who have suffered the anti-semitic intolerance, and with the Blacks who have suffered racist intolerance. It is the same face of hatred. Only the victims change. Wendsday, Bernard Henry Levy said that the democratic Muslims are our allies. I agree with him. Specially the Muslim women who fight for Freedom in Islam. Why don't we hear their voices? Maybe, because of the Fear. Yet, who dares with Islam? Who dares with oil? One day those women will conquer their freedom. When they do so, they will look towards the West and accuse us of having abandoned them, of complicity with the opressors and of treason. And they will be right...
I told you, in my introduction, that my gratitude would be a shout. A shout against silence. A shout against complicity. A shout against indiference. Eleanor Roosevelt said "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." The question is, have we consented? Now that Barack Obama wants to talk with the Iranian tyranny, and Spanish President Zapatero talks about the Alliance of Civilizations with other tyrants, we should ask ourselves, what is the meaning of civilization? I am certainly in favour of dialogue. As the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu wrote: "supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting". However, dialogue is only dialogue if it is based upon two foundations: the moral superiority of freedom over tyranny, and the non-negotiable commitment with the victims. That is to say, there can only exist one "Alliance of Civilizations", the one that is based upon the Human Rights Charter. Any other option is not an alliance of civilizations, it's an alliance with barbarism, with the sole objective of guaranteeing certain interests.
Thank you, again, for this magnificent award. I will use it to give my voice to those that are not listened. To the families of murdered Israelis, who never appear in the news. To young Gilad Shalit, who will soon have suffered three years of kidnap. To those children of Palestinian mothers, who are trained to become martyrs. Children who have the right to be educated for Life, but they are educated for Death. They are our cause, too. And, I will use my voice too, to the human beings of Darfur, who die by the thousands. To the girls who suffer enslavement and genital mutilation. To the victims of all faiths killed by the murderous jihad terrorist attacks. I will give my voice, my little voice, to the victims, for only then will I be worthy of this award. "Trenches" is the title of the last book of David Harris. Certainly, we are in the trenches. In the trenches of Justice, in the trenches of Human Rights, in the trenches of Freedom. And in the trenches of Israel, because Israel is the symbol of all those values.
In these hopeful days of change, it's good to remember the words of President Obama: "when Americans know that they have the power to change things, it's very difficult to stop them".
Do it! Let's do it! Let's change things! You can! WE CAN!