Iranian smokescreen in Geneva

The conference on racism, known as Durban II, held in Geneva this week has been much discussed in the international press. Reactions were passionate after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech on the racist character of Israel, some denouncing it loudly, the others supporting it vigorously. Ultimately, this predictable intervention has succeeded in concealing the real challenges of the meeting.

First, it is indeed surprising to observe so virulent reactions facing a speech firstly so predictable, secondly below the habits of the Iranian president. Coming often close to Holocaust denial, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did only spoke Monday on the « totally racist » character of the Israeli government. Nevertheless, chosen or unfortunate coincidence, the date corresponded with the commemoration of the Holocaust which has added to the tumult that followed. In this episode, the so seldom complained are finally the Palestinians who stand to lose from being defended by such a troublemaker.

Besides, if the State of Israel can not be described as « totally racist », one must admit that the policies pursued for some time are open to such criticism: non compliance with the terms of Annapolis, further construction in the settlements and offensive out of all proportion in the Gaza Strip. Today, the newly elected Israeli government, far from any mea culpa, appears to adopt a new attitude of arrogance vis-à-vis the United States and European Union.

Finally the formula that claims that the absent are always wrong are not justified this time. Israel has played the game of the empty chair, but ultimately won since no mention was made in the final declaration of the crimes of the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories.

The outcome is poor at last for a conference whose purpose is more than questionable. The abolition of racism in the world does not happen with big speeches, but by concrete actions. And escapades of President Ahmadinejad once again drew attention away from the situation of Palestinians whose daily reality is getting worse and worse.