Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Israel protests as UN racism meet begins

Posted by claudiacampli su 20 aprile, 2009

Times

Israel recalled its ambassador to Switzerland today in protest at a meeting between President Ahmadinejad of Iran and his Swiss counterpart, Hans-Rudolf Merz.

The two men met yesterday ahead of a United Nations anti-racism conference that opened in Geneva this morning, as Israel marks its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Nine Western nations, including Israel and the United States, are boycotting the conference over fears that Islamic countries will use it as a forum for anti-Semitism while blocking criticism of Islam.

The Obama administration announced at the weekend that it would boycott the meeting because its draft declaration makes reference to a text agreed in 2001 at the UN’s first anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa. That document was agreed after the United States and Israel walked out over attempts to liken Zionism – the movement to establish a Jewish state in the Holy Land – to racism.

Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Poland are joining the boycott. Britain confirmed yesterday that it would attend, although not at a ministerial level, and France will also attend, although it has threatened to walk out if anti-Semitic sentiments are expressed.

Mr Ahmadinejad, who has called repeatedly for Israel’s destruction and suggested that the Holocaust never happened, is scheduled to address the conference at Geneva’s Palais des Nations later today.

This morning, the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told his Cabinet that while Israel commemorates the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis, “in Switzerland, the guest of honour is a racist and a Holocaust-denier who doesn’t conceal his intention to wipe Israel off the face of this earth”.

An Israeli Government official said that Ilan Elgar, the ambassador in Berne, had been “recalled for consultations” after the start of the Durban II conference and the meeting between Mr Ahmadinejad and Mr Merz, who holds Switzerland’s rotating presidency.

“This is not a break in relations, but an expression of Israel’s discontent for the lax Swiss attitude towards Iran,” the official said.

Opening the conference this morning, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon urged the world to rally against the threat of intolerance, especially given the global economic downturn.

“I fear that today’s economic crisis, if not handled properly, could evolve into a full-scale political crisis marked by social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics who have lost faith in their leaders and their own future,” Mr Ban said.

“In such circumstances, the consequences for communities already victimised by prejudice or exclusion could be frightening.”

The UN chief said that he regretted the absence of the United States and eight other Western nations that have pulled out because of fears Muslim nations will dominate the conference with calls to denounce Israel and for a global ban on criticising Islam.

“There comes a time to reaffirm our faith in fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of us all,” Mr Ban said.

The major sticking points in the draft final declaration prepared for the current meeting concern its implied criticism of Israel and an attempt by Muslim governments to ban all criticism of Islam, Sharia law, the Prophet Muhammad and other tenets of their faith.

The American decision to boycott the meeting has been given extra weight by the fact that it was taken by the country’s first black president.

Speaking in Trinidad yesterday after attending the Summit of the Americas, Mr Obama said that he would love to be “involved in a useful conference that addressed continuing issues of racism and discrimination around the globe” but wanted to avoid a reprise of the Durban conference during which “folks expressed antagonism toward Israel in ways that were oftentimes completely hypocritical and counterproductive”.

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