Geneva — The Durban Review Conference on racism kicked off this morning amidst anxious speculation over what President Ahmadinejad might say to the assembled delegates and NGOs. Such was the level of interest among the NGOs, that we had to arrive two hours early to ensure a seat.
In a way it’s fitting that Ahmadinejad should headline the event. After all, who knows more about racism firsthand than a man who has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Judaism and his desire to “wipe Israel off the map”?
Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad won’t be held up as Exhibit A on how pervasive racism still is around the world. Instead, he will be treated as a responsible world leader worth listening to for his insights on how to combat racism. Indeed, as we entered the hall where the conference will be held today, a red carpet was conspicuously laid out for Ahmadinejad.
It says something about Durban II when Ahmadinejad is welcomed with open arms while democratic countries like the U.S., Israel, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia choose to skip the event entirely.