Israel Criticism Sparks U.N. Walkout
Dozens of delegates have walked out of a United Nations conference on racism after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, described Israel as a “racist government”.
Ahmadinejad told delegates at the summit in Switzerland on Monday, that after the Second World War the United States and other nations had established a “cruel, oppressive and racist regime in occupied Palestine”.
“The UN security council has stabilised this occupation regime and supported it in the last 60 years giving them a free hand to continue their crimes,” he told delegates at the Durban Review Conference hall in Geneva.
Dozens of diplomats from countries including Britain and France left the hall in protest as he made the remarks.
Ahmadinejad also asked the conference: “What were the root causes of the US attacks against Iraq or invasion of Afghanistan? >>>
Several Western leaders have criticised the comments made by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, at a United Nations anti-racism conference in Switzerland.
Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, “unreservedly condemned” Ahmadinejad’s speech on Monday, in which he called Israel a “racist government”.
“The view of the British government is that we unreservedly condemn the Iranian president’s offensive and inflammatory remarks,” Brown’s spokesman said.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ secretary-general, said the Iranian president used his platform to “accuse, divide, and even incite”.
“This is the opposite of what this conference seeks to achieve,” he said.
“I reminded the president that the UN General Assembly had adopted the resolutions to revoke the equation of Zionism with racism and to reaffirm the historical facts of the Holocaust respectively”.
The United States condemned Ahmadinejad’s speech as “vile and hateful”.
“I can’t think of any other word than shameful,” Alejandro Wolff, Washington’s deputy UN ambassador, said.
“It does a grave injustice to the Iranian nation and the Iranian people, and we call on the Iranian leadership to show much more measured, moderate, honest and constructive rhetoric when dealing with issues in the region,” he said.
Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said the Iranian president’s comments showed anti semitism still exists.
“The sad fact is that as we commemorate the events of the holocaust here in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, there are those who have chosen to participate in the demonstration of hatred against Israel and Jews in the heart of Europe,” he said, addressing a gathering commemorating the victims of the Holocaust.
Some 23 European Union delegates walked out of the conference hall in Geneva on Monday after Ahmadinejad criticised the creation of a “totally racist government in occupied Palestine”.
A number of Western countries, including the United States and Germany, had already boycotted the summit over fears that the Iranian president would use it as a platform to oppose Israel. >>>
Political figures react with dismay to the Iranian president’s remarks which caused Israeli advocates to walk out of the UN anti-racism summit.
Rupert Colville, spokesman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, condemned the anti-Israeli remarks made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday, saying it was “completely inappropriate”.
“We strongly deplore the language used by the president of Iran,” Colville said.
“In our view, the speech was completely inappropriate at a conference designed to nurture diversity and tolerance.”
“Following World War II they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering,” President Ahmadinejad said at the UN anti-racism summit on Monday.
“And they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine,” he added.
“And in fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.”
Norwegian Foreign Minster Jonas Gahr Store, who was the first to take the floor after President Ahmadinejad, “strongly rejected the previous speaker’s remarks”.
“Norway will not accept that ‘the odd man out’ kidnaps the efforts of the many,” said the Norwegian foreign minister.
Slovenian ambassador Andrej Logar described the Iranian president’s remarks as “detrimental to the dignity of this conference.”
British ambassador Peter Gooderham for his part condemned President Ahmadinejad’s comments on the establishment of Israel, saying, “Such outrageous anti-Semitic remarks should have no place in a UN anti-racism forum.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a separate statement “totally” condemned the speech, saying it was “an intolerable appeal to racist hate”.
The statement added that Sarkozy “is calling for an extremely firm reaction by the European Union.”
While President Ahmadinejad’s lambasting of Israel prompted a temporary walkout by certain delegates, it received applause from other delegations that remained seated in the UN assembly hall.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned the advocates of “freedom of speech” about the sincerity of their conviction.
After Israeli advocates staged a walkout in the midst of the Iranian president’s speech at the UN anti-racism summit, President Ahmadinejad criticized the “so-called advocates of freedom of information.”
“Why is it that the so-called advocates of freedom of information fear hearing other people’s opinions,” the Iranian president asked.
Speaking at a news conference in Geneva after addressing the United Nations conference on racism, President Ahmadinejad described the countries which boycotted or walked out of the UN anti-racism summit as “arrogant and selfish.”
“In our opinion, this is arrogance and selfishness and the root cause of the world’s problems,” President Ahmadinejad told the Monday press conference.
“The subject of this conference is anti-racism and the advocates of racism did not attend this summit,” he added. >>>