Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Durban II: Can it get Worse?

Durban II just gets more and more difficult to watch.

After his hateful remarks from the podium of an anti-racism conference, where he repeated the antisemetic lie that Jews somehow seek to control the world and after diplomats from most democratic countries present walked out of the auditorium in protest Iranian President Ahmadinejad still doesn't really understand that he did anything wrong. Instead, he argues that the boycott and walkout during his comments had nothing to do with anything he said, but rather with the "arrogance and selfishness" of those who walked out. The man simply does not understand how hateful his language is. He simply does not understand that the democratic countries that walked away from him abhorred what he was saying because it was false and was the antithesis of what they hoped to accomplish in their racism conference. Perhaps the only truly arrogant one is the President himself, who thinks that a racism conference put on by the UN should only deal with what he perceives to be racism. Maybe he thinks his own arrogance was washed away or tempered by his dropping of language that explicitly denied the Holocaust from his speech.

In other news from Durban...Long before the conference ended, delegates passed the Durban II document which was the reason Canada and other countries boycotted the conference because this document reaffirmed Durban I which not only singles out Israel from all states in the world for criticism but specifically brands it as a racist state. Moreover, the new document was further limited by countries like China which refused to have any mention of racism against Tibetans included in the document. Some good news came in the form of the document calling for the enduring memory of the Holocaust which is an important message to the whole world about the consequences and evil of intolerance, ignorance and hatred. Nonetheless, predictably, the Iranian delegation fought to minimize references to the Holocaust in the document.

In perhaps the most shocking and despicable incident to take place at the conference so far a crowd of people protesting against Ahmadinejad's presence at Durban II which included Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, were screamed at by a member of Ahmadinejad's entourage and called "Zio-Nazis." To begin with, watching a diplomat, or a representative of his country break into such impassioned, hateful name-calling must be interpreted as evidence of the intellectual bankruptcy of his position. Such a childish, school yard type degeneration into name calling by a representative of a state must shock sensibilities. A slur like Zion-nazi is so difficult to respond to because it's difficult to know where to begin in the dissection of such a horribly offensive term (especially when hurled at a Holocaust survivor.) The confluence of Zionism and Nazism, two antithetical views of the world is an implication that one is equal to the other. That a representative of a country could spew such hate and falsehoods is a blight not only on him, on the country he represents but also on any international organization or state which continues to grant this person diplomatic immunity. Switzerland and the UN should both immediately invoke article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to declare this hatemonger persona non grata and deny him access to any further official UN functions. David Scharaub's headline for a post on this guy says it best.

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