Jewish World Review August 29, 2002 / 21 Elul, 5762

Zev Chafets

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At the world summit,
just anger & hypocrisy | Some delegates at the United Nations environmental summit in Johannesburg are walking around with a lapel button that asks, "What should we do with the United States?"

They are mad at America for defying UN orthodoxy on ecological issues. They are mad at America for being so rich. And they are mad at America because President Bush hasn't come to Johannesburg to see how mad they are.

"Bush should be hauled in front of an international tribunal and be made accountable," says Gar Smith, editor of The Edge and one of this country's leading environmental advocates. Smith calls the President "a weasel" for not showing up. Even in environmental circles, being compared to a weasel isn't a compliment.

So Bush is being tried in absentia. He will be found guilty on all counts because he presides over the world's most successful economy. That makes him a racist. As South African President Thabo Mbeki told the summit's opening session, the gap between the rich and the poor is "global apartheid."

Something must be done.

Ten years ago, the first ecosummit in Rio de Janeiro adopted approximately 2,500 recommendations for saving the planet. Since then, approximately none have been implemented. But this time will be different, promises Conference General Secretary Nitin Desai: "The focus is very much on action."

One action goal is to cut world poverty in half by 2015. The planet savers want to do this by turning the U.S. and other developed countries upside down and shaking lunch money out of their pockets. But that won't happen. Even the Europeans object to this method of economic justice.

Meanwhile, Third World governments are reducing poverty by a different method - eliminating poor people. South Africa, for example, has abetted an AIDS epidemic by officially pretending the disease is not caused by HIV and withholding treatment from infected expectant mothers. Next door, Zimbabwe, in the throes of widespread famine, is destroying its agriculture by evicting white farmers and giving the land to cronies of President Robert Mugabe.

Then there is Zambia, where 2.5 million people are in danger of starvation. The U.S. is offering food, but Zambia doesn't want it - because it is genetically modified. The World Health Organization says the food is safe, but Zambians aren't about to be tricked by science. "We cannot be so irresponsible as to risk the lives of innocent people," says Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana.

Sikatana is not alone in regarding American corn with disdain. "If it were me, I wouldn't let it in my country," says Smith. "There are other ways to deal with starvation. We don't have to send genetically modified food. We could just give them the money."

The American delegation to Johannesburg, led by Secretary of State Powell, has about $1 billion to give away. But it is insisting that development money go to countries that actually intend to develop something. And it would prefer that the leaders of the recipient governments not steal the money. This form of American apartheid is already a source of great consternation in Johannesburg. The "What Should We Do With the United States?" buttons are merely the first sign that the summit could implode.

But it won't. If the UN knows anything, it knows how to deal with controversy. The conference has another week to run, plenty of time to save the planet by focusing on the real root cause of world poverty, disease, pollution, the rising of the seas and the hole in the ozone: Zionism.

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JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

08/21/02: No time for weak knees on Iraq
08/16/02: A pro-Arab pol may get the beating she deserves
08/13/02: Fight it out now
08/02/02: Memo to The Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. values won't sell in Arab world
07/31/02: Israel's nutty neighbors

© 2002, NY Daily News