ahmadinejad geneva 248.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Although the Jewish world has been preparing for the Durban Review Conference for several months, and indeed has been impressively coordinated in dealing with challenges of this event, I still was not prepared for the shock, sadness, and fear I felt watching Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receive a standing ovation after delivering a keynote address on the ironic topic of human rights.
Confirming without a doubt that this UN Conference will do nothing towards advancing its mandate, that is, combating racism and promoting human rights, Ahmadinejad, the only head of state to attend, ranted about the arrogance of the United States, Europe, and Israel, and stated that after World War Two, Europe sent migrants to Palestine to establish the racist regime that is now "the worst racist regime in the world".
Before leaving Teheran, Ahmadinejad gave the press his usual tirade of anti-Semitic and hateful messages, and even had he not, it is clear from the international community's knowledge of him what his message was going to be. The United Nations has sunk to a new low by giving this man a platform at conference on human rights - a man who presides over a regime where the execution of the very homosexuals whose existence he denies and the systematic oppression of women are a way of life.
Several delegates walked out of the plenary during the address, including those from the EU and Jordan, and Ahmadinejad was heckled throughout the speech, but what struck me most was the enthusiastic reception his words received from the majority of those in attendance. I am aware that this is commonplace behavior in the United Nations, and that this rhetoric characterized the entirety of the first Durban conference in 2001, but what sent chills down my spine was that this time around, the modern day blood libels perpetrated by hate-mongering scoundrels is being done by those who will likely, within an extremely short period of time, be a nuclear power.
It is my hope that this latest spectacle in Geneva will open the eyes of those states that care about fighting intolerance, that care about universal rights and freedoms. If there was ever a time for the remaining countries to boycott the Durban Review Conference, it is now. If there was ever a time that countries, especially the United States, should acknowledge that Iran's leaders are motivated by a sinister and heart-felt hatred of the West, and that this ideology cannot be wished away by those who hope for a convergence of interests, it is now. Those who advocate engagement with Iran cannot be allowed to ignore the true nature of those who they seek to engage.
If there was ever a time to face reality, it is now.
The writer is the coordinator of the World Jewish Diplomatic Corps for the World Jewish Congress