I’m beginning to think that being a mother is the best possible preparation you can have for any job. After all, when you’re a mom, you are accustomed to unreasonable demands that will require you to bend time and space. Pick up two kids at two different activities that end at the same time, but are fifteen minutes away from each other? No sweat. That’s what we do.
I didn’t submit my dispatch on Day 4 until now, the morning of Day 5, because there is only so much a human being can do. Thursday was the UN’s Durban commemoration or Durban III. This is the tenth anniversary of an anti-racism conference held in Durban, South Africa which went from being against racism to being a platform for anti-Israel sentiment. The UN’s decision to hold an official commemoration of the event this year – an event that many nations feel is a stain on the UN rather than something to celebrate – was greeted with much uproar. Especially by Israel, a veritable punching bag at the UN generally.
So many nations opted to boycott the Durban commemoration, and many protests and conferences in opposition to the UN goings-on are transpiring. Which brings me to a bizarre dilemma: how does one cover Durban and anti-Durban simultaneously? Because, of course, they are happening at the same time. Did I mention that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also speaking at the UN, as is UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan – all of which are extremely relevant to Israel, and hence to me?
Throw in the pumping, and it doesn’t give much time for phone calls home to check on the baby, the other kids, or Wonder Husband. You know it’s bad news when the babysitter calls you to make sure you’re doing okay.
So the way you do this is by having help (a recurring theme in my life, to be sure). Another Jerusalem Post reporter will cover the Durban commemoration – everything is webcast, leaving me free to race around by the UN. Like all reporters who have covered the UN General Assembly before, I only wear flats.
First, one of the anti-Durban conferences, attended by Angelina Jolie’s dad Jon Voight, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, and other luminaries. The room is packed with Jewish leaders and human rights advocates, most of whom are on the more conservative side of the political spectrum. It feels oddly like going to synagogue, if everyone at the synagogue had a handheld digital voice recorder and laptop.
From there, we move on to the UN, where I get tickets to the gallery to see Ahmadinejad. While last year, Ahmadinejad and his September 11th conspiracy theories were a highlight/lowlight? of the General Assembly, this year he’s been effectively eclipsed by the Palestinian state issue.
I get a ticket to the fourth floor gallery, go through the labyrinth with my media escort (chaperones to make sure you don’t go somewhere you ‘shouldn’t’) to get to my seat, and then ask where the bathroom is. It’s in the basement. Of course it is. I go back through the maze down to the basement. The only electrical outlet is in the center of the bathroom. I go out and get a chair from the cafeteria, bring it into the bathroom, sit down, and pump away. By the end of this General Assembly, there will not be a single woman in the building who will not have seen my nipples. Kinky.
I go back to the gallery and sit down behind a bunch of Iranian journalists and next to a few Israelis. This juxtaposition is always fun and I look forward to what will transpire after the speech.
Ahmadinejad gets up to speak and everyone listens up – you can read my account here. Diplomats get up to leave about ten minutes in, synchronized as though they can hear a silent fire alarm. It’s a mass exodus. Reporters lean over the gallery railing to see who is leaving, who is staying, by the country labels on the seats. This leaving-when-Ahmadinejad-speaks has become a ritual. One of the Israeli reporters, smiling, leans over to me and makes a motion like, “Let’s leave too.” Unfortunately, we have to stay and hear more conspiracy theories about Osama bin Laden, the evil empire of the United States, etc.
Afterwards, we ask one of the Iranian journalists what he thought. “You are infringing on my privacy,” he says. Clearly, he’s not allowed to have an opinion. One of the Israeli guys says, “I’m just asking you as a person, as an Iranian, what you think of him.” The Iranian journalist says, “I don’t have an opinion.” Right…because you’re not allowed to have an opinion. Got it.
The rest of the day is a blur, to be honest, except for Pump It Up Part Two. My security guard, who will go unnamed here because he is a hero and therefore will be fired from the UN if anyone finds out how great he is, took things up a notch and let me into a conference room. Frosted glass, electrical outlet, leather reclining seats.
Now THAT is what I call “Pump In Style.”