Monday, April 20, 2009

Applauding Hatred

I have marched from Auschwitz to Birkenau. I have seen the walls stained blue in the gas chambers of Majdenek. I was spit on in Krakow and encountered neo-Nazis in Warsaw. I have seen swastikas painted on the walls of Verona. And none of these experiences prepared me to sit in a room as people applauded a man as he said that “the word Zionism personifies racism” and “governments must be encouraged at eradicating this barbaric racism.”

Please, have no doubt. “His Excellency”, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the face of evil. It takes evil to speak about the rights of all nations while simultaneously calling for the destrution of one nation. It takes evil to speak of love and brotherhood and peace while you are calling for the eradication of a people. It takes evil to accuse the United States and Israel of “uunbridled racism that is posing the most serious threat against the international peace” while you are funding the rockets that are shattering the peace process.

Please, make no mistake. Ahmadinejad does not care about the people of Gaza. He does not care about the people of the West. He does not even care about his own people. He oppresses and tortures and murders his own people. His country executes children, oppresses religious minorities and declares that a woman is only worth half that of a man. He imprisons and kills those that would dare to dissent from his regime.

Sitting in the room as people applauded this man multiple times during his speech was both frightening and painful. As he started in on the hateful section of his speech, and spoke about the formation of the racist, Zionist regime after the start of WWII, the applause swelled. Many nations, including most of the European Union, walked out. But the applause seemingly continued as diplomats streamed from the room. And then the speech continued. And then the applause continued.

In his language today, Ahmadinejad was calling for a holy war. He refered to the Durban Review Campaign as a “holy and humanitarian campaign”. But there is nothing holy about his words and there is nothing holy about his actions. All he represents is hypocrisy and hatred. It is a shame that so many people sat there today and applauded him. It is a shame that the Durban Review Conference gave him a forum from which to espouse his hatred. It is a shame that he was allowed to further sidetrack the world’s attention from where it belongs – on the victims of racism and genocide. As I exited the room after the applause died down to get air, I could only try to be thankful that my government was not there to lend legitimacy to this evil and that so many people representing so many countries chose to get up and walk out at his first hate-filled words. But after sitting there surrounded by those who would applaud evil – that seems like a small consolation prize.

To watch the speech, please clink on the link on the right side of the page.

For other takes on today, please check out:
Durban II Dispatch: In Search of Anti-Semites
Durban II Dispatch: Live-blogging Ahmedinejad
Durban II Dispatch: Following Ahmedinejad

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