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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

at the UN « Previous | |Next »
April 21, 2009

I wasn't surprised that Australia didn't have the courage to attend the UN conference on racism (known as the Durban Review ) and then debate the views of those it disagreed with, namely President Ahmadinejad's interpretation of Zionist history. They just stayed away---boycotted it along with Germany, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Italy, Holland, Sweden and Israel, rather than making the arguments that need to be made against Ahmadinejad and his followers. Zionism is contested territory.

The realpolitik is that Israel currently has one of the world’s strongest armies, without peer in the Middle East, and its 200 or so nuclear warheads give it the last word in any military showdown with any of its neighbors. Israel’s security doctrine is based on maintaining an overwhelming strategic advantage over all challengers. Israel is here to stay and the Palestinians do not have the fire power to to confront the settlers, let alone even dismantle most of the 600 or so roadblocks that choke life in the West Bank.

The rights of Israel have been given priority over the rights of Arabs, and this skewed perception has been backed by US might, which since the Cold War exercised regional dominance.The US now has a huge and permanent physical military concentration in the region.

If the Zionist movement has managed to successfully create a Jewish nation-state in the Middle East against considerable odds, then whither Zionism today? Has Zionism itself become an obstacle to Israel's future as a cosmopolitan liberal democratic market society in a globalzed world? Zionism has made the Holocaust the centerpiece of Israel's national story, and states that anti-Semitism is inevitable and immutable when Jews live among gentiles. Yet the majority of Jews live in the wider world outside Israel.

However, the assumption is that Zionism does need to be questioned because this form of nationalism rationalizes conquest and colonization and occupation as “redemption” of Jewish territory on behalf of the world’s Jews. It treats the Palestinians only as an obstacle and threat to its own purposes, not as people with the same rights as Jews and with legitimate claim to the land on which they were born. It sees the Arabs and Iran as pits of Islamic terror and anti-Semitic savagery that want only to kill Jews and annihilate Israel.

Contesting fundamentalist Islamic interpretations of Zionism in the context of a questioning of Zionism is one way of engaging with the Muslim world.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:30 AM | | Comments (21)


The global war on terrorism has replaced the Cold War as a defining frame of reference, acting as justification for the massively increased U.S. military role. Islamofascists have taken the place of Reds, and being "soft on terrorism" has become as terrifying a political accusation as being "soft on communism" once was.

I wasn't surprised Australia didn't go either. We've suspended our own racial discrimination act for the purposes of discriminating between indigenous and other Australians.

Jews, Arabs and anyone else could rightly point that out to any Australian speaking out against racism.

Zionism is destined to completely fail or create a desert. Even my suburb, which has mysteriously selected its inhabitants according to some unwritten ethnic script, could not preclude human diversity. What is contemptible about Israel is their conscious use of violence to secure their monochrome vision. Because that is not possible, they succeed only by turning their heartless violence on themselves.

thee weight of the history behind us is pulling us back as we strive to move forward.


I am going to be blunt. You are an apoligist for racism and fascism. As the Left always has been.

Ignore Jack Greenfield's misanthropy ( disclosure, as to personal trajectory, Jack!? )
Thank God some one has had the guts and sense to think out, write up and include a reasoned piece of the sort posted by Gary.

The western boycott of the UN conference on racism (the Durban review) and the walkout on President Ahmadinejad's interpretation of Zionist history turns the UN into a children's tea party. It gives Ahmadinejada platform for his domestic politics in Iran.

They should challenge his bigotry and fantasies about Jews ( an alien people who run the world's banks) and engage in a debate about the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

It is perfectly legitimate to ask re Israel's future whether Israel should become a "post-Zionist" state, one that defines itself in terms of the rights of its citizens, rather than seeing itself as defined by the Jewish people? If it is the latter then the ethno nationalism means that Israel is not a liberal democratic state.

Conservatives in Australia trade on the Islamophobia that demonises Muslims whilst criticising the anti-semitic discourse that infects anti-Zionism and poison the political debate. Their stance against racism is very selective.

many Australian One Nation conservatives are UN haters. They use Ahmadinejad's crude anti-semitic views to denounce the UN as a whole. Why so? Because they are opposed to human rights.

Can anybody explain how that race-baiter Tom Calma can justify going to Durban all on the taxpayer?

He should be sacked.,25197,25373021-601,00.html

He has the okay from Parliament to do so and is an independent authority and is participating at the Durban Review Conference along with 300 civil society organizations.

You are condemning a 4 day conference over several days based on a 20 minute speech by one national leader. There are other issues to consider than Israel.

as noted above you appear to only recognize a commitment to prevent, combat and eradicate for one kind of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. --antisemitism. In this week's Geneva statement, Israel isn't mentioned at all.

Like many ethnonationalists (Israel is a state which defines itself by ethnicity) John equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. He is at one with his political friends at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) on this conflation. You can criticize Zionism without being anti-Semitic in that the history of Zionism shows that its aim was to dispossess the Arabs, take over Palestine and continuing to take Arab land for Jews, and Jews only, against all international law?

It was the rightwing pro-Israel groups, who insisted long in advance that the UN anti-racism conference would be a "hatefest". Though there is a perfectly reasonable argument (and a debate to be had) about the nature of Israel's racism, all the Australian Government did is to hold up its hands in horror when Israel is described as a racist state, implying that those who make this argument have no credibility whatsoever.

the neocon attack on the UN should be resisted

it is odd. The Australian Government's boycott means that it has nothing to say about the grim condition of their indigenous people. They had no contribution to make about the rampant Islamophobia, the resurgence of anti-semitism and the scapegoating of migrants in their countries over the last decade?

I find this government's attitude to racism in general quite puzzling.

I wouldn't realistically expect them to draw attention to the One Nation and associated baiting and scapegoating of the past decade. Talking about it fans flames that are not in their electoral interests.

At the same time, they don't seem to mind race related human rights violations, given their reluctance to say anything about it.

as a consequence they aligned themselves with a bunch of white western nations (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy and Israel) against the brown/coloured Muslim nations. White Christian nations versus dark Islamic nations. And that happened in a global meeting called to combat racial hatred

Not a good look for Australia, with its history of being a white settler society that dispossessed its indigenous people and failed to treat them as citizens of the nation-state until 1967.


I am aware of all the points you make, which just reinforces my point. Calma went of his own free will. That is what makes him vile.

He should be sacked, and perhaps charged with inciting racism.


Like many ethnonationalists (Israel is a state which defines itself by ethnicity) John equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Dude, you need to change your dealer. I don't know what school you went to, but let me share some advice my teachers gave me. When answering exam essay questions, make sure you answer the question asked, and not just dump your prepared answer.

Where do you get the idea I am an "ethnonationalist"? And what do "anti Zionism" and "anti Senitism" have to do with me?

WTF is "Zionism"? Zionism was a movement to secure a Jewish homeland. This was achieved in 1948. Dude, you need to start living in the now.

He is at one with his political friends at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) on this conflation.

First of all, you are wrong to conflate 'equate' and 'conflate'. Secondly, I have no idea who/what the AIJAC is/are, let alone their being my "friends" political or otherwise.


The Australian Government's boycott means that it has nothing to say about the grim condition of their indigenous people

WTF? Do you live in Australia? Coz I can assure you, we have been hearing about "our government's" thoughts and policies about 'THEIR' "indigenous" (whatever that means) people 24/7 for the past decade.

It is time to get the government out of these people's lives!

you write

I am aware of all the points you make, which just reinforces my point. Calma went of his own free will. That is what makes him vile.He should be sacked, and perhaps charged with inciting racism.

There's another indication of your authoritarian conservatism and dislike of liberalism.