Bibi’s Coke

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On Monday, at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly, after Benjamin Netanyahu finished his Iran fright-fest, veteran Canadian politician Irwin Cotler took the stage and for the most part followed Netanyahu’s lead. Cotler also warned of Iran’s nuclear plans, citing their “state sponsored genocidal intent.”

A former McGill University law professor and an expert on human rights, Cotler suggested bringing the Iranian government before the international criminal court, referencing an international law that prohibits not just genocide, but genocidal incitement.

After Kotler’s speech, a friend from Montreal marveled at Cotler’s hawkish rant, noting his liberal predilections. Indeed, the only sign of Cotler’s liberality was his brief appeal for alternative energy, though the environmental reasons for this were even briefer. Rather, Cotler claimed that every $1 rise in oil prices yields $1 billion in oil sales for Iran.

Where did Cotler find his conservative streak?

To be fair, Cotler has always been vigilant in the fight against anti-Semitism, so seen in this context, his Iranian concern was not out of character. Still, the fierceness of Cotler’s rhetoric was surprising and, perhaps, could be attributed to the audience — meaning, what Cotler assumed the audience wanted to hear.

But I couldn’t help wondering: Did Cotler catch his hawkishness from Bibi’s Coke?

During his speech, Netanyahu made a production of his request for a Diet Coke. An emissary eventually delivered the beverage, and Bibi drank from the cup, but it wasn’t replaced before Cotler’s speech. A few minutes later, there was Irwin Cotler drinking a half-empty Diet Coke.

With all the talk of nuclear holocaust, I appreciated the comic relief. Believe me, major global politicians sharing germs before thousands of people is funnier than you might think.

Posted on November 15, 2006

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