Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered the de facto keynote address at the UN’s “Durban II” conference on racism in Geneva today. It transpired exactly as could have been expected: Ahmadinejad said the same nasty things about Israel, and to a lesser degree the rest of the West, that he always does; some of those in attendance pretended to be surprised and walked out; many others cheered his remarks enthusiastically.
I would call this more a charade than a circus, but a group of protesters, who I believe were later identified as Jewish students from France, chose the circus metaphor and showed up with clown hair and red noses. You can see what transpired in this video, courtesy of JTA:
Here is a photo of one of the protesters being hustled out of the hall:
This is how Iran’s FARS news agency reported the event, under the headline “Durban Conf. Participants Defuse Plot against Iranian President”:
As the Iranian president was delivering a speech to the conference, a participant sought to insult him by throwing an object to his face, but over 4500 representatives of the NGOs and human rights activists attending the convention asked the Iranian president to continue his address and gave him repeated applause. …
Following the incident, a minority of representatives from 23 organizations and states left the hall in protest of Ahmadinejad’s speech. But thousands of others, including the United Nations representatives remained in the hall as Ahmadinejad continued, calling Israel a cruel and racist state and accusing Zionists of using the Holocaust as an excuse to steal Arab land.
Ahmadinejad also called Zionism a form of racism.
Those who remained in the hall expressed support for Ahmadinejad’s ideas all throughout the speech.
I don’t know; that last statement could be true.
The episode shows, I think, the folly of participating in this kind of event. Norway’s Foreign Minister made this very silly comment:
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said Ahmadinejad’s words “run counter to the very spirit of dignity of the conference.”
No, actually, they don’t. Ahmadinejad summed up the spirit of Durban, and the warped world-view that dominates the U.N., quite well.
Roger Simon is in Geneva and posted the linked report on an encounter with Ahmadinejad yesterday. He was in the hall today and I am sure will add his own observations, but has not yet done so as of this writing.
As for our government, it denounced Ahmadinejad’s remarks. But there was no suggestion that today’s performance had any impact on President Obama’s determination to sit down for a friendly chat with Iran’s President.
UPDATE: Roger Simon has posted his first-hand observations here. He begins:
It’s clear now – the Durban Review Conference is not an anti-racism conference; it’s a pro-racism conference, sponsored by the UN.