The world has truly become a theater of the absurd when Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad is considered a welcome guest at the UN-sponsored conference on racism that opens today in Geneva. Of course, the conference itself promises to make a mockery of the very concepts of the ideals that it purports to be combating, given that in all likelihood, it will once again turn into an anti-Semitic Israel-bashing session similar to that which occurred during the previous UN racism conference, held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa.
During the first Durban conference, Israel was repeatedly singled out and demonized as systematic human rights abuses and acts of racism in countries around the world were not even on the radar. One would think that Russia was beneficent towards breakaway Soviet Republics, that China offered government support for the Falun Gong and press freedoms for foreign journalists during the Olympics, that Turkish citizens were allowed to “insult Turkishness”, and that Africa was a bastion of democracy. One would think that women in Iran were given the same rights as men (which, if we are being honest here, do not amount to much in any case), that Iranian bloggers were not living in fear of their government (or dying in solitude in Iranian prisons), that Iranian citizens with dual citizenship were not being thrown in jail for spying on a regular basis.
There’s no question that racism exists in Israel, and anyone who says otherwise is, at best, naïve. Our track record with regard to Arab-Israelis is dismal, and at times, our treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has left me feeling utterly ashamed and mortified. However – and that would be a huge however, Israel is by no means the worst offender. Israelis do not go on violent rampages whenever Judaism or Israel are insulted, we do not burn down embassies of those who offend us. We cry foul when virulently anti-Semitic cartoons are published in newspapers, but we do not threaten the lives of the artists or the newspaper editors. Our leaders do not make it a habit of demanding that other countries be wiped off the map, and if they did, I daresay they would not be asked to address conferences dedicated to fighting racism.
What kind of legitimacy can be granted to such a conference when the leader of one of the most repressive, fanatic regimes in the world uses the conference podium for the singular purpose of vilifying another country? How can we expect the outcome of “Durban 2” to be any different from the outcome of the previous conference, given the sadly predictable nature of Ahmadinejad’s speech earlier today? The walkout by Western delegates means very little – a pathetic show of symbolism that does nothing to lessen the hypocrisy of giving the Iranian president a platform in the first place. The very act of allowing him to speak has destroyed any remaining notions of conference credibility, and anyone who believes otherwise is setting themselves up for disappointment. There can be neither credibility nor legitimacy in such an atmosphere of hate and intolerance, nor can any true solutions be found. And needless to say, having one of the world’s most outspoken Holocaust deniers addressing a global racism conference on Holocaust Remembrance Day pretty much says it all, really.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Current Events, Politics, Rants, Regional, Religion, UN and tagged anti-Semitism, Durban, Holocaust, Holocaust denial, Iran, Israel, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, racism, Roxana Saberi, UN, UN racism conference by Liza Rosenberg