- Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel
- the 120th anniversary of the birth of Adolph Hitler
- the opening of the World (U.N.) Conference Against Racism (or, Durban II)
Let's recall that the first Durban Conference was a disaster. The problem was not just that it focused excessively on the Israeli-Arab conflict, which is a geopolitical issue more at home in the Security Council than at an anti-racism conference. The trouble was that the conference so severely demonized Israelis and Jews that it turned into a pro-racism rather than an anti-racism forum. Delegates returned with souvenir copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other anti-Semitic books as well as Nazi-like cartoons. [emphasis mine]
As the second 'anti-racism' conference opens today in Geneva, the roster of countries boycotting the conference entirely has now grown to nine. They are:
- United States
- New Zealand
France has pledged that its delegation will join the boycott if the conference degenerates into Israel-bashing.
Anti-Israel language in the draft declaration prior to the conference became a sticking point for several countries, particularly in the EU. The question for many EU nations has been whether to join the western boycott, or whether to work within the conference to try to affect moderation. In the end, much of the overt anti-Israel sentiment was removed from the draft declaration.
Also removed was the contentious 'defamation of religion' declaration, spearheaded through the U.N. Human Rights Council last month by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). However, at the insistence of several OIC countries in the Middle East, the draft declaration retains a clause about "incitement of religious hatred".
Western governments continue to be concerned that conceding to any such declaration protecting religion (read, Islam) from criticism would undermine the traditions of free speech and a free press. It would invariably shield the 'political' and 'legal' aspirations associated with religion (to wit, Wahabist supremacism, irredentism and shariah law) from any and all legitimate criticism in the West, and would be used to justify draconian anti-blasphemy laws in some Islamic countries.
Iranian president Ahmadinejad spoke at the top of the program. Imagine. The keynote address of an 'anti-racism' conference being delivered by ... a racist. In response to the obscenity of Ahmadinejad taking to the podium, several countries that should have known better in the first place finally discovered their wedding tackle and walked out. As Philippe Naughton reported for Times Online:
Around 20 delegates, including envoys from the UK, France, and Finland stood up and left the room at what was considered an anti-Semitic remark by the Iranian leader, who has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
So, on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, the U.N. 'Anti-Racism' Conference is opened by a jackass who insists that the Holocaust is "a myth". Clearly the coincident date of this event may have more to do with the anniversary of Hitler's birthday than Holocaust Remembrance Day. At least that seems to be the message that the U.N. is leaving by giving Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a platform for his bile. As it turns out, Ahmadinejad was the only "major leader" to accept an invitation to attend this ridiculous conference.
Meanwhile, Israel has recalled its ambassador to Switzerland for consultation after Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz met with the Iranian president on the side.
Suffering from terminal political tone-deafness, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his 'disappointment' at those countries that opted to boycott the conference.
Wake up, Jackass. The countries that boycotted are the same countries that pay the bills. And maybe ... just maybe ... they have a point here.