Speaking from the podium of the Durban II conference in Geneva on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a “racist” state, prompting sharp rebukes from around the world and a not-so-veiled threat from Jerusalem.Despite the boycott, the delegates did adopt a final outcome paper.
"We will not allow Holocaust deniers to perpetrate another Holocaust against the Jewish people,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said several hours afterward in his speech at Israel’s main Holocaust memorial ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday night. “This is the supreme duty of the State of Israel and my supreme duty as prime minister.”
Netanyahu’s remarks were a reminder of the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons: Many Israelis see Ahmadinejad as a modern-day Hitler.
"Seventy-three years after the Berlin Olympiad, yesterday the world saw the return of Adolf Hitler,” Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday. “This time he is bearded and he talks Persian. But the words are the same words, the goals the same goals and the resolve to use effective means to achieve them is the same threatening resolve.”
The Israeli government says it cannot allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons capable of obliterating the Jewish state, and the comments from Israeli officials on Holocaust Memorial Day were a reminder that Israel could resort to military action to enforce that view.
The Chzech Republic pulled out altogether after the walkout yesterday.
Czech Republic pulled out of the United Nations-sponsored conference on racism in Geneva.A counter-conference opened in New York.
The Czechs were one of 23 European Union countries to walk out Monday during an anti-Israel, anti-Western address by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and they did not return when the conference reconvened Tuesday.
"As is the case with a number of our democratic partners -- whether they are among the EU Member States or not -- we cannot allow our presence at this conference to legitimize the completely unacceptable anti-Israeli attacks, i.e. a repetition of events that had a strong negative impact on the previous conference in 2001, " read a statement from the Czech Foreign Ministry.
Israel, Canada, United States, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany had boycotted the conference before it began.
The conference, sponsored by the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and co-sponsored by more than 20 organizations, is being held through Friday -- the same dates as the United Nations-sponsored anti-racism conference taking place in Geneva.Jews in Argentina criticized their government.
The counter-conference "will address the real issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance which the Durban I and Durban II were officially convened to address; but as happened at Durban I, the Durban II proceedings in Geneva will likely ignore, distort, or misrepresent these issues," according to a statement from the association.
Argentina's Jewish community criticized its country's diplomats for not walking out during the Iranian president's address at Durban II.John Bolton applauded the Obama administration for skipping the conference.
In response, the Argentine Foreign Ministry “categorically” rejected the anti-Israel statements by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's made to the United Nations-sponsored conference.
“For Argentina, Holocaust denial is unacceptable," the Argentine government said in a statement. "That is why Bishop Richard Williamson was expelled from the country last February: He had doubted that Jews had been victims of genocide.”
The Israeli ambassador to Argentina criticized conference organizers for allowing Ahmadinejad to speak.
“The extremist and racist countries of the world are taking advantage of the ingenuity and good will of democratic countries,” Daniel Gazit said.
The Obama administration's decision not to at tend this week's "Durban II" conference on racism in Geneva means that boycotting outrageous United Nations parleys is now officially bipartisan US policy. This is real US leadership[...]
The absence of America eliminates any pretext of global legitimacy, which greatly concerns the international left. Depriving the original Durban conference of that legitimacy is exactly why the Bush administration -- hesitatingly and at the last possible moment -- quite properly walked out in 2001.
Not surprisingly, the leftist Human Rights Watch complained that the absence of an American delegation would leave Durban II with a lack of "diplomatic gravitas." That, of course, is precisely the point. Rep. Barbara Lee of the Congressional Black Caucus said that "this decision is inconsistent with the administration's policy of engaging with those we agree with and those we disagree with." This, too, is correct.
These reactions underline the long-term significance of President Obama's decision, which effectively reaffirms President George W. Bush's 2001 approach and makes withdrawing from UN events a respectable policy option. It legitimizes the US assertion of its interests and those of its friends and allies, rather than repeatedly succumbing to the simplistic notion that "engagement" is always preferred.