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Boycott of U.N. racism conference
A United Nations conference on racism is being boycotted by the United States and many of its allies.
They fear the meeting in Geneva will single out Israel for criticism. A previous racism conference in 2001 in Durban, South Africa, was marred by anti-Semitic street protests and attempts to pass a resolution equating Zionism with racism, prompting the United States and Israel to walk out.
The final declaration of that conference omitted that language and was hailed by Israel’s foreign ministry as a triumph.
Canada and Israel had long made it clear that they would not attend the follow-up conference in Geneva, known as Durban II.
Now, despite President Barack Obama’s policy of re-engaging with the rest of the world, the United States has decided to stay away too. So have Australia and Germany among others. Britain and France and current EU-president the Czech Republic are represented only by their ambassadors.
who has called for Israel to be wiped from the map and cast doubt on the Nazi Holocaust, which is also commemorated by Jewish communities on Monday.
He used similar language again on Monday, denouncing Israel as a racist regime oppressing the Palestinians and founded “on the pretext of Jewish sufferings”, and accusing “Zionism” of penetrating mass media and financial systems in other countries to impose its domination worldwide.
Several advocacy organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, have said the United States and other Western countries should take part, arguing that their boycott constituted a blow against efforts to promote human rights.
Even in Israel, some people say that a boycott leaves the floor open to critics of the country.
Still, those who object to the conference can draw some paradoxical comfort from Ahmadinejad’s words. According to one conspiracy theory making the round of the Palais des Nations – the U.N.’s European headquarters where it is hosting the conference – the boycott, by allowing the spotlight to fall on Ahmadinejad, simply proves the point of the opponents: that the U.N.’s international diplomacy is flawed and its efforts to discuss human rights always end up in an attack on Israel.