GENEVA (AP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West of using the Holocaust as a "pretext" for aggression against Palestinians, prompting European diplomats to walk out Monday from a speech disrupted by jeering protesters in rainbow wigs tossing red clown noses at the hard-line leader.
A U.N. racism conference on the eve of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day disintegrated into chaos moments after Ahmadinejad became the first government official to take the floor. Two protesters in wigs tossed the noses at Ahmadinejad as he recited a Muslim prayer to begin his speech.
A Jewish student group from France later took credit for causing the disturbance, saying members were trying to convey "the masquerade that this conference represents."
Just the timing of the whole debacle is outrageous. On the eve of the day that has been to remember the horrible travesty that Hitler perpetrated on the Jews, he not only says that the West and Israel are being unduly aggressive against the Palestinians, but he has the audacity to call it a “Holocaust”.
As he chastised the US and Europe for giving the Jews Palestine to recreate their nation of Israel:
That prompted a walkout by some 40 diplomats from Britain and France and other European countries that had threatened to leave the conference if it descended into anti-Semitism or other rhetoric harshly critical of Israel, which marred the U.N.'s last racism gathering eight years ago in South Africa.
The United States and eight other Western countries were already boycotting the event because of concerns about its fairness.
Ahmadinejad went on to accuse Israel of being the "most cruel and repressive racist regime."
Protesters held placards reading "This is a circus. A racist cannot fight racism," and repeatedly interrupted the speech with shouts of "Shame! Shame!" and "Racist! Racist!"
I agree with the protesters here. Having Ahmadinejad speak at a conference created to find ways to counter racism is ridiculous. It’s like having Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the leading figures of the early KKK; speak in front of the UN to talk about the racism against whites.
He went on to declare despicable, unfounded accusations at Israel "most cruel and repressive racist regime." The US and many of the European countries had already decided to show up and boycott the Iranian president. The most of the rest of Europe walked out as Ahmadinejad started projecting his anti-Semitic bile at Israel. They all did the right thing. Ahmadinejad was way out of line and should be ostracized.
Ahmadinejad's speech also took aim at the United States for its role in the global economic crisis and at Western countries for imposing unfair economic conditions on the developing world. Among his more brazen claims was the allegation that Zionists instigated the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in concert with weapons manufacturers.
There is no point to talking to men that are as full of hate and delusions as he is. There is no rationalizing with the irrational.
But Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel remarks may not be well-received among many others in Iran. Ahmadinejad is up for re-election in June, but his popularity has been waning as Iran's economy struggles with high-inflation and unemployment. Many have criticized Ahmadinejad for spending too much time on anti-Israel and anti-Western rhetoric and not enough on the country's economy.
Let's hope that it'll cost him at home, and maybe it'll lead to a more pro-West and more democratic replacement.