Iran and Israel are both guilty of repeated abuse of human rights. In Iran, the jailing of Roxana Saberi for spying is an injustice, and a deliberate slap in the face to genuine overtures from Obama to cool the diplomatic temperature. But it is a comparatively small transgression in Iran, a country which executes gays and radically curtails freedom of speech, the rights of women and numerous other freedoms that should be universal.
Now let us look at Israel. Israel is indeed a country founded on a racist premise and based on massive ethnic cleansing, and where racial discrimination is built in to the legal fabric of the country. That situation is getting worse, not better.
The BBC reports President Ahmadinejad today at the UN anti-racism conference thus:
Mr Ahmadinejad, the only major leader to attend the conference, said Jewish migrants from Europe and the United States had been sent to the Middle East after World War II “in order to establish a racist government in the occupied Palestine”.
He continued, through an interpreter: “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.”
I have not seen a full text and do not know what else he said. But insofar as the above s accurate, I in fact broadly agree with it. The only real point of dispute would be the extent to which people were sent as opposed to just went. But the general argument seems to me factually indisputable. Whether he is the best person to say it, given Iran’s own human rights record, is another question.
So there is hypocrisy from Israel, from Iran, and fom the Western countries including the UK who theatrically walked out of the speech.
There is a fascinating quote from Peter Gooderham, UK Ambassador and our representative at the conference:
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, he said of the Iranian leader’s accusation of Israeli racism: “That is a charge we unreservedly condemn and so we had no hesitation at that point in leaving the conference hall.”
Which is interesting as the FCO used to acknowledge institutionalised racism, enshrined in legislation, as a major problem in Israel. One more New Labour step appears to have been taken down the Zionist road.