Lady Gaga made it. So did Bill Clinton. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al- Nhayan, president of the United Arab Emirates is a lucky inclusion , as well as Ashton Kutcher and Taylor Swift. Even that indefatigable Palestinian peace maker Salam Fayyad ( who? – you might correctly ask) is in there. They are all inductees in the 2010 TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list. The annual list is entree to immediate celebrity, a ticket to dinner parties, the lecture circuit and a fair amount of ridicule.
But missing from this year’s list are the two men who will undoubtedly have a more significant influence on world events in the coming twelve months than anyone TIME listed on its pages this week.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, won his indisputable place on this list, with his galvanizing speech to the United Nations on September 24, 2009, which, in the wake of a earlier speaker’s demagoguery, he admonished the world’s gathered leaders to stand up for the U.N’s purported values:
“Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries. But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?”
His words put to shame those of Barack Obama who could barely bring himself to emit a word of condemnation about the racist hate speech which was to issue from the mouth of Iran’s Mahmoud Achmadinejad. After the speech, pundits and analysts were declaring Benjamin Netanyahu the true leader of Western civilization.
His nemesis, as well as the West’s, also did not make it into the Top 100 list, despite his defiance in rejecting the U.N.s’ demands for inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities and the growing likelihood that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike this year against the Iranian regime. This seismic event will not only roil world economies but will cause a substantial shift in global power.
These two men could therefore well hold much of the fate of humanity in their hands. I have to wonder whether that would be enough of an influence to have included them in the top 100. Probably not. After all, they have nothing on Lady Gaga’s ” incredibly literary” ( Cyndi Lauper’s contributory comment) influence on our culture and civilization.