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Össur wags the finger

So our Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson was in New York last week at the United Nations’ General Assembly, along with an Icelandic delegation. Here they are listening to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe give his address:

OK, either old Robert was giving the dullest speech in the history of the UN, or the Icelandic delegation did a little too much partay-ing the night before.

Be that as it may, old Össur did not, um, rest on his laurels for long, because he gave a pretty kick-ass speech when it came to his turn. Here it is:

Pretty willing to bet that Iceland hasn’t made any new friends among Iranian or Israeli officials, but some things just need to be said. Props to Össur for saying them.

[Anyone who prefers a transcript of the speech can go here and click on the bottom link. It then opens in Word — in English. NB the speech is not as long as it says on the video, it’s only around 15 minutes, not 28.]

[Photo credit goes to Die Zeit.]

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  • JB in San Diego September 27, 2010, 3:25 pm

    Transcript, anyone? I can sneak in some reading during the day but not so much video.

  • Rik Hardy September 27, 2010, 3:41 pm

    Össur displayed the only possible reaction to anything Mugabe has to say, and I only wish Mugabe had to watch a thousand snoozing spectators every time he appears.
    He’s the biggest banana in Africa – if you’ll forgive my lack of diplomacy – but one has to have SOME standards…

  • alda September 27, 2010, 4:12 pm

    @ JB — the time on the video is a bit misleading, it’s not 28 minutes, but somewhere around 10-15. But the transcript is here (bottom link): http://www.utanrikisraduneyti.is/frettir/nr/5955

  • Rik Hardy September 27, 2010, 5:38 pm

    Isn’t it awful that what Össur said about Israel should really have gone without saying?
    It’s like telling a certain European leader’s Jew-hating lackeys 70 years ago that they would be called to account – they simply didn’t think the rest of the world would notice, or care.
    I never imagined the tables could ever be turned quite so dramatically in terms of the bad guys and the good guys! Good grief, I mean, the Palestinians are not even Nazis – they’re just trying not to be exterminated!

  • Alexander E. September 27, 2010, 8:09 pm

    Palestinians are not even Nazis – they’re just trying not to be exterminated!

    Rick. Who is trying to exterminate Palestinians? I can hardly think of any new nazis.

    but some things just need to be said

    Absolutely agree.
    But what concerns me lately – Icelandic officials are fighting for all people – Chinese, Roma, Palestinians – but their own countrymen. I understand that it’s very easy, comfortable and safe. But this is not what they are paid for (legal note: I have no problem if they express their view … during their free time and at their own cost).

    PS. Is it correct – six people delegation from 300,000 people? I guess only Mugabe sent bigger team (per capita).

  • Jon September 27, 2010, 8:13 pm

    Looks like the delegation was suffering from jet lag. Yeah, that’s it!

  • Easy September 27, 2010, 8:34 pm

    @Alexander
    Who is trying to exterminate Palestinians? News flash!!! …Israel
    On the other hand about the second part of your post, you could have not said it better!!
    But they perfectly know that these kind of things work as a charm on icelandic ego and we feel sooo proud “look we icelanders say it like it is we are not afraid” and people get so exited that they miss exactly the point you are making.

  • James September 27, 2010, 9:29 pm

    That UN speech balanced an article I read on the underground in today’s London Evening Standard titled “Land of Bjork awaits the arrival of its sushi king”…

  • alda September 27, 2010, 10:16 pm

    James — surely you jest.

  • Rik Hardy September 27, 2010, 10:37 pm

    @Alexander
    Easy’s news flash is exactly my point.
    I was trying to imply that if the Palestinians HAD been Nazis, then Israel might at least have tried to claim the right to some sort of revenge for past wrongs.
    As things stand, it just looks like outright greed, pushiness, prejudice and cruelty from the Israelis.
    But you’re right about Icelandic officials – and Össur is one of them.
    His words look mighty fine, but the corrupt bankers here at home still have their jobs and continue in their secretive and arrogant manipulation of their own countrymen.
    He says that much has been done, but 1,000 people are to be turned out of their homes right now because they were not clairvoyant enough to know that their well-paid financial advisers were lying in 2008.
    Meanwhile, the Parliament is debating whether to form more committees to debate whether the forming of previous committees was illegal, based on the experience of a million other committees which had been formed in the last thousand years to debate whether or not a committee should be formed in Iceland in the first place…

  • Rik Hardy September 27, 2010, 10:45 pm

    Philosophy for cats – 101:
    When in doubt, wash.

    Philosophy for modern Icelandic politicians – 101:
    When in doubt, form a committee.

  • Bromley86 September 27, 2010, 10:52 pm

    >Who is trying to exterminate Palestinians? News flash!!! …Israel

    Really? Not doing a particularily good job of it then, are they?

  • Rik Hardy September 28, 2010, 1:30 am

    @Bromley86
    No need to be impatient; the agenda is pretty clear.
    Build on their land, put our people in the buildings…
    What’s left for them?
    Not much today.
    Nothing tomorrow.

  • idunn September 28, 2010, 3:26 am

    Yes, Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson probably didn’t win any new friends in Iran or Israel, at least among the sitting governments, but it was most certainly a fine speech. This because I happen to agree with all his sentiments, our environmental responsibilities, etc., and perhaps most of all refreshing to listen to someone speaking forthrightly and plainly. A trait seldom discovered in politicians.

    In this, Iceland can be proud.

  • Kris September 28, 2010, 6:23 am

    I think we should replace the statue of Leif Erikson with a giant codfish basking under a waterfall.
    Israel is all about racial purity. As far as I know it is the only country with race laws. How ironic is that? I always wonder how many Jews in Jerusalem have had their homes declared illegal and then demolished. Oh, I can guess: 0.
    I’m also not a fat of these sleepy fatheads who are little more than poster children for government waist! The irony is not lost on me that the neo-liberal philosophy that created the circumstances where the bankers could rob the people blind is the governing philosophy of the IMF! Maybe they should promote it as homeopathic medicine!

  • Bromley86 September 28, 2010, 12:41 pm

    >What’s left for them?
    >Not much today.
    >Nothing tomorrow.

    That’s slightly less emotive than Easy’s point, but just as factually flawed. Even the most ardent of right wing Israelis would draw a border that did not leave “nothing”.

    >Build on their land, put our people in the buildings…

    At least the PA is fighting back 🙂 :
    http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=188604

  • Rik Hardy September 28, 2010, 6:26 pm

    @Bromley86
    There are no facts to be factually flawed in my comment.
    I am talking about the clear policy of stealing land from the Palestinians, and the logical conclusion to be drawn from that.

    The difference between allowing either a handful or the whole nation of Palestinians to survive is not the point.
    Nor is the point concerned with the extent to which the Israeli agenda has so far been fulfilled.
    The point is that Israel apparently gets to decide what happens to Palestine.

    Would you like Iceland to decide on the future of the land of your birth? (assuming you are not a born Icelander…)
    Or is Israel allowed to do such things only because it has huge backing in the U.S.A.?
    “We do it because we can…”

    Yeuch!

  • Bromley86 September 28, 2010, 10:20 pm

    >There are no facts to be factually flawed in my comment.

    I see we agree 🙂 . You stated that Israel would take everything. This is clearly untrue. And you do it again – Israel is not interested in Gaza, so that’s well over 1/3 who would surivive even if Israel was ethnically cleansing the West Bank. (It isn’t, just in case it needs to be said.)

    What they should keep, take, or whether they should give up and just drown themselves, is a different matter.

  • Rik Hardy September 29, 2010, 12:34 am

    Bromley86,
    I didn’t state that Israel would take everything.
    I have no idea what Israel would do if the logical outcome of its present policies reached a peak in, say, ten years.
    All I know is where Israel seems to be heading with every new step it takes as far as the Palestinians are concerned.
    I assume you think that Israel is not interested in Gaza in the same way as the U.S.A. wasn’t interested in Iraq’s oil when it invaded?
    It’s easy to say you’re not interested, but when your actions prove otherwise… well, we all know the old one about actions speaking louder than words.
    And if Israel really isn’t interested in Gaza, then what on earth has been the problem over there for decades?
    Perhaps you would care to enlighten us.
    I’ll admit I’m no expert on the Middle East, but I do pay attention.

  • Bromley86 September 29, 2010, 10:55 am

    Sorry to be pedantic Rik, but you really did:

    What’s left for them?
    Not much today.
    ***Nothing tomorrow.***

    As to Gaza, what can I say? Israel is not in Gaza and has absolutely no chance of quietly killing a population of 1.3m when no one is looking, nor any hope of successfully subjugating those 1.3m under direct rule. There are no real resources there and no massive improvement to the defensibility of Israel’s borders by taking it. So what evidence do you have that Israel is interested in Gaza?

    On the enlightenment front, I’m no more of an expert than you. However, it seems to me that the key thing to consider are the real power structures. We live in a time when the traditional solution to problems like this, the absolute and complete subjugation/elimination/assimilation of a local population by the military victors, is not possible. But that doesn’t mean that military concerns are irrelevant.

    That is why settlements in Gaza were abandoned by Israel but the ones in the West Bank were not. That and Jerusalem 🙂 .

  • Rik Hardy September 29, 2010, 3:16 pm

    Well, you are being pedantic, Bromley.
    The quote below is obviously a despairing comment on Israel’s philosophical agenda. And if that isn’t obvious to you, then you’ll just have to take my word for it that that’s what I intended it to be.
    It could hardly be a statement of fact, since the future hasn’t arrived yet.

    “What’s left for them?
    Not much today.
    Nothing tomorrow.”

  • Rik Hardy September 29, 2010, 3:33 pm

    As a postscript, I am not talking about killing people, Bromley, but of slowly making their lives intolerable and undermining their basic security, so that they will, to quote you, “give up and just drown themselves”.
    Which you say is “a different matter”, but which for me is the whole point.
    There are different ways to exterminate people, after all.
    Seems to me the Israelis are feeling hemmed in and would like more space. They wish the Palestinians would just go away, and they are trying to make them do just that.

  • Bromley86 September 29, 2010, 10:18 pm

    >The quote below is obviously a despairing comment on Israel’s philosophical agenda.

    Really? Well the situation is not going to be helped by that sort of thing. Sticking to the truth rather than exaggerating or making stuff up is essential – there are enough people out there with an agenda that’ll do that for you.

    That’s going to sound pretty arrogant, but you’re throwing words like “exterminated” around when they’re clearly not warranted.

  • alda September 29, 2010, 10:33 pm

    OK, now I’m going to start wagging the finger at you two if you don’t cut it out.

  • James September 30, 2010, 1:57 am

    I just searched to see if that groundbreaking newspaper article was also online and…
    http://londonersdiary.standard.co.uk/2010/09/land-of-bj%C3%B6rk-awaits-the-arrival-of-its-sushi-king.html

  • Rik Hardy September 30, 2010, 5:20 am

    Sorry, Alda, for being naughty.
    Sorry, Bromley, for exaggerating.
    I try to stay in a light vein when commenting here, since the general tone of IWR isn’t like reading a reference manual, but I accept that my occasional flippancy can lead to misunderstandings.
    I’ll try to watch myself.