Durban 2 Truth 0

The Iranian President's racist speech at the Durban II conference in Geneva made big news yesterday. Ahmadinejad spewed the same kind of Anti-Israel, Anti-American, Holocaust-denying venom that he has done so many times; as he spoke forty delegates from twenty-seven countries left the room.

Watching the media, I was quite surprised at the coverage. The news reports weren't biased; they simply reflect a complete lack of understanding about the conference, its background, and what went on today.

Allow me the opportunity to clear up some of the misinformation aired across the news channels today:

  • Anyone who has read a newspaper over the past few years should not have been surprised at Ahmadinejad's speech today. He has given different versions along the same theme many times. The Media and the Diplomats knew what was coming. The "Walk Out" was more of a result of the pressure not to attend at all, than Ahmadinejad's discourse. The fact that those countries showed up meant they had to make a public display of disapproval.  They had a burden on them which they removed by indignantly walking out.
  • The United States, Israel and Canada did not walk out during Ahmadinejad's speech. They weren't there. Along with nations such as Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, they did not choose to attend (Britain and France did attend). This boycott had nothing to do with Ahmadinejad's appearance in fact they knew he was coming. Those nations stayed home because the conference was going to reaffirm the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred expressed in the first conference in 2001 (the US and Israel walked out in the middle of that one).
  • The Conference is being run in the name of the United Nations, the Planning- Committee and the Conference itself is being run by human rights "stalwarts" such as Iran, Cuba and Libya.
  • On the agenda is a motion that urges states to provide:
"Protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general."

Submitted by the Arab States, the real purpose of this proposal is to ban any negative talk about Islam.

  •  A motion to recognize the Holocaust was turned aside because Iran said that it could not be proved (the day the conference opened was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day; it was also the anniversary of Hitler's birth).
Based on who is running the conference; Iran, Libya and Cuba, along with the fact of it being held under the UN Flag, it would not be surprising if this event degenerated into the same cult of hatred as did the first one.

In all probability this UN Conference on Racism, will say very little about the state of hatred in the world and a lot about the hatred of one State in the world.

Sammy Benoit is Editor of The Lid, a daily blog covering international and domestic politics.