Thursday, April 23, 2009

What credibility is there in Geneva's all-white boycott?

Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Thursday 23 April 2009

"What do the US, Canada, ­Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy and Israel have in common? They are all either European or European-settler states. And they all decided to boycott this week's UN ­conference against racism in Geneva – even before Monday's incendiary speech by the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which triggered a further white-flight walkout by representatives of another 23 European states.

In international forums, it's almost unprecedented to have such an ­undiluted racial divide of whites-versus-the-rest. And for that to happen in a global meeting called to combat racial hatred doesn't exactly augur well for future international understanding at a time when the worst economic crisis since the war is ramping up racism and xenophobia across the world......

Israel's supporters often complain that, whatever its faults, it is singled out for attack while the crimes of other states and conflicts are ignored. To the extent that that's true in forums such as the UN, it's partly because Israel is seen as the unfinished business of European colonialism, along with the Middle East conflict's other special mix of multiple toxins. The Geneva boycotters, fresh from standing behind Israel's carnage in Gaza, are in denial about their own racism – and their continuing role in the tragedy of the Middle East."

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