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Monday, January 31, 2005

Diplomatic Immunity

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The living come with garments fine
To light the candles in the night;
The graveyard of the desperate fight,
Of death and fashion by design.
The critics with their verbiage say:
"The parka’s not the look today
Drab olive green on such a day
A furry-collared signal grey."
So sure of death the man who stands,
With blood upon his very hands
Whose heartfelt outfit caused alarm
Like a swastika on Harry’s arm.
Or Kabbalah's forgotten tune
An unapologetic gesture dry
From diplomacy a man’s immune.
For once the truth belies the lie.


At yesterday's gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney. The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one's country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.

Robin Givhan, Dick Cheney, Dressing Down, The Washington Post, January 28, 2005

Prince Harry was today urged to visit Auschwitz after his apology for wearing a Nazi officer's uniform to a fancy dress party appeared to do little to calm the controversy. The California-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, one of the largest international Jewish human rights organisations, said the prince should attend a ceremony being held at the death camp later this month to mark the 60th anniversary of its liberation.

A photograph splashed across the front page of the Sun showed Prince Harry enjoying a drink and a cigarette while dressed as a member of Rommel's Afrika Corps, complete with red swastika armband.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre's strongly-worded rebuke said that, in Auschwitz, the prince would see the results "of the hated symbol he so foolishly and brazenly chose to wear" at the party.

Simon Jeffery, Prince Harry urged to visit Auschwitz, The Guardian, January 13, 2005

A senior figure in the controversial Kabbalah Centre - the sect championed by stars including Madonna and Demi Moore - seems likely to spark a storm of protest by saying Jews killed in the Holocaust brought their downfall upon themselves.

Eliyahu Yardeni, of the London Kabbalah Centre, made the astonishing claim to an undercover reporter investigating high-pressure sales techniques employed by the group, which promotes its own brand of beliefs, part ancient Jewish mysticism and part pseudo-science.

The probe also revealed how Kabbalah Centre representatives claimed bottles of "healing" spring water sold by the group could help cure cancer - and how they sold a batch to a sufferer for hundreds of pounds.

Talking about the wartime massacre of the Jews, Mr Yardeni said: "Just to tell you another thing about the six million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust: the question was that the Light was blocked. They didn't use Kabbalah."

John Sweeney, Kabbalah leader's Holocaust 'slur', BBC News, January 9, 2005


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