Sunday, April 19, 2009

Geneva racist conference should be boycotted

The UN is often seen by many as an organisation with lofty goals of getting the world together to agree on what is right and wrong, and have collaboration, co-operation, compromise all to make the world a better place.

The Durban Review Conference in Geneva is meant to be like that. Its stated goal is “evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.”

Racism is bad right? What’s wrong with eliminating racism, xenophobia and “related intolerance”? Nothing of course, until you find out what is really behind it.

You see a real conference would look at what has happened at Darfur, and how so many countries have provided succuour to the Sudanese government and be dismayed. It would look at the blatant racism in the media of many in the Middle East, not just what happens in the Israeli occupied territories.

So what is wrong with the conference? For starters, Islamic countries are seeking religion to be put on the same level as race. The Netherlands is boycotting the conference for that reason. While people have a right to freedom of religion (and no religion, which none of the conference documents acknowledge), it is NOT about race. Religion is a choice. Funnily enough, precious few Islamic countries allow Muslims to commit apostasy without severe punishment. Many countries are seeking this conference to pass resolutions banning offence against religion - which is an attack on free speech and open debate.

The United States is boycotting it because Islamic countries are seeking to return to the “Zionism is racism” focus, making it predominantly about Israel.

Australia is boycotting it for similar reasons, as delegates from some countries used it as a forum to declare anti-semitic views.

Canada, Italy and Israel are also boycotting.

So for Green MP Keith Locke to say boycotting would be “just to follow the US”, is a lie. It would be following many Western countries that share our values, values of free speech, freedom of religion (and to have no religion), and to be committed against racism as a whole, not to single out Israel on dubious grounds.

It speaks volumes about the immaturity of the Green Party’s foreign policy that it rejects a boycott because the US - and we are talking about the Obama Administration – is boycotting, along with many others. Of course given the Greens support race based politics in New Zealand why should one be surprised.

New Zealand should stand against the hijacking of this conference by countries that practice vile racism in their media against Jews, that ignore the racist based genocide in Sudan (why is that not mentioned but Israel is) and want to suppress religious dissent.

Murray McCully is considering New Zealand’s position – it is right to stand alongside our friends in opposing the doggerel that will come from Geneva.

The UN for decades was a forum for brutal dictatorships and autocracies to pontificate about South Africa and Israel, ignoring their own murderous records - it should not now be the forum for the Muslim dominated autocracies that span from the Maghreb to Malaysia.

UPDATE: Associated Press is reporting that Germany is boycotting now too - and that is a country that knows only too much from history about racism, and moving on beyond it.

UPDATE 2: Foreign Affairs MinisterMurray McCully has announced New Zealand is NOT attending. He said it needed to responsibly and productively address racism

It would also need to avoid circumscribing freedom of expression, such as in the contentious area of ‘defamation of religion’.

“I am not satisfied that the wording emerging from preparatory discussions will prevent the Review Conference from descending into the same kind of rancorous and unproductive debate that took place in 2001.

“It is a pity that this should have been the case. Combating racism and related intolerance is an important cause, and one to which New Zealand attaches the highest importance.

“However the Review Conference in Geneva is not likely to advance the cause of race relations at the international level, and so New Zealand, like many other countries, will not be represented at it"



Observer said...

Dialogue is the best and only way to hash out our differences. By refusing to engage in meaningful dialogue, no matter what the views of the other side, the west is isolating itself from the rest of the world, which to many observers is an admittance of inability to stand in open debate.

There can be only three conceivable reasons for running away from a dialogue:

1) You know you might have to face some sour facts that you would rather not.

2) You will not tolerate a different kind of "apostasy" as you call it. Characteristic zealot behavior for which you so mock the developing nations.

3) There is a genuine lack of interest or inclination to take the rest of the world in the loop. Arrogance is unlikely to help improving any given situation.

Which is it?

Libertyscott said...

Yes dialogue is all very well, and in this instance is probably better at the bilateral level. Remember most of the countries going along to this aren't exact good at embracing dialogue domestically on any of this.

This isn't a dialogue, it is a monologue dominated by countries wanting it to be about Israel - the same countries that say nothing about Sudan, that need the finger pointed at them. However, the statements include opposing "anti-Arab" propaganda. Why single out Arabs, why not have a list of thousands of peoples?

No Waqar, the freedom loving West tolerates ALL apostasy - free speech is paramount, the UN has long been a forum for rogues, criminals and the murderous gangsters of the earth - referred to as sovereign states - to shout out on what upsets them, but ignoring how they treat their own citizens.

The human individual has always been second, as it is with this conference.

If the UN held a conference which was called "Protecting the rights of the individual" it would cover race, religion and sex - but you wont get that, because most UN member states treat individuals as the means to an end, not an end in themselves.

Observer said...

Scott where I agree with what you say about the rights of the individual and the concept of statehood which is at odds with it, I do not agree with your other assessment.

Apostasy related attitudes in the west as I implied it, was the general response to anyone decrying Israel for its disproportionate response and opression. In a nutshell my question is this, why is Israel considered absolved of moral considerations as a state by the west in general and US in particular. As long as we do not consider all lives, Israeli and Palestinians, equally important, you cannot blame the rest of the world for not being able to see eye to eye with you.

As for freedom of speech, laws like holocaust denial laws are proof that freedom of speech can and should be curtailed in view of certian considerations.
My question is why can this curtailment not extend to "Insult to religion" regulations in specific countries that predominantly follow that religion?

Libertyscott said...

Well in the West many decried Israel for its response to Hamas attacking it. I doubt if protest marches could be held in most Arab states supporting Israel of course. Israel is not absolved of nmoral considerations at all, nobody supports the Israeli occupation of Arab land, but as long as Israel is surrounded and attacked by those who wish its destruction what will change?

Hamas and Hisbollah are enemies of freedom, Israel and western civilisation and must go - they are barriers to peace. Israel equally should dismantle West Bank settlements and supported the progressive establishment of a Palestinian state.

Of course as I said, the Arab world turns a total blind eye to its brethren in Sudan slaughtering non-Muslim Africans - lives that aren't that important to them I suggest.

I don't support holocaust denial laws, so that doesn't wash. There are none in my own home country nor my country of residence.

Religions have no right to not be insulted any more than political philosophies. Religion is just a supernatural philosophy, and calling any religion a philosophy ghost worshipping anti-human fascism MUST be a right.

Why do you want to curtail free speech? My response to those who don't like their religion insulted is simple - so what? You have no right to not be insulted, and I am far more insulted by the murderous barbarity of those who proclaim themselves religious, than words anyone says.

Freedom must include freedom to have any religion, no religion and to criticise and insult those of any religion and no religion.

People who worship ghosts should surely not be afraid of those who mock such worship, otherwise their faith is rather fragile.

Observer said...

I do agree to most of what you say on religion, faith should be open to criticism and open to dialogue and debate. However, in my view, insulting religions and religious personalities and ridiculing them is against the spirit of tolerance. More often than not our understanding of faiths, more so other people's faiths, is based on abridged and over simplified press that fills us with frustration over the inanity of that faiths followers which breeds all kinds of trouble in the long run.

As for Isreal being surrounded in hostility, the PLO struggled largely on the diplomatic front in excess of 35 years to bring about a two state solution, efforts which were time and again bulldozed because every time peace looked promising, trouble stirred, and it is very obvious to any neutral observer that over the past 20 years the sole effect isreali heavy handedness and brutality has had is to broaden the support base for Hamas and Hizbollah.
It makes one think that to the right-wing Israelis, this is a victory in itself, because it eases all pressure on Israel to make any concessions or to curtail its tactics.

Recall how the west was won? They burned and pillaged Native American villages and took over their lands till the Indians had no option but to resort to violence. It was then that they were promptly demonized, the public opinion was doctored and then they were persecuted to the brink of extinction.

It is like when a bad cop throws a gun at your feet and keeps kicking you in the gut till you loose it and lung for the weapon nearby, and as soon as you grab it, of-course he can legitimately shoot you because you were armed and dangerous, clearly a potent threat to the well armored and well armed cop.


Sus said...

Hi Waqar:

I don't know about Israel being "absolved of moral considerations by the west", etc, but it is generally held in higher regard to its neighbours.

Why? Well, here's a couple of reasons that spring to mind:

1. Israel is surrounded by 22 Arab states, all of which are dictatorships to some degree. It, on the other hand, is the only democracy in the region.

2. As a female, my gender did not prevent me from receiving the same rights, protections and freedoms as men. Can't say that for many Arab and Muslim women, sadly.

In other words, Israel was the only country in that part of the world - and yes, I have been there - where I could move around freely.

Subjugation isn't much fun, you know.

Oh, and as for the ridiculing of religion being "against the spirit of tolerance", too bad. Free speech is free speech irrespective of whether you or I like what is said, or not.

Having said that, free speech naturally entitles us to rebut what we dislike. Persuasion is the peaceful option. Force is not.

Beware collectivism of any nature: racial, national, social or religious. It's guaranteed to persecute somebody, somewhere. "He's disrespecting me! Stone/fine/ban/compel/imprison him!!"

See what we mean? I can only be truly free if you are - and vice versa.