Well, it seems that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sparked a local war in New Zealand’s blogosphere! It all started with his speech at the UN Conference on Racism in Geneva. This attacked Zionism as a form of racism and precipitated a walkout by many delegates.
NZ blog Tumeke criticised media coverage of the speech and walkout. He also criticised the formation of Israel as a Jewish state and some of its actions and policies which can be interpreted as racist. Whaleoil responded by labelling Tumeke as an Holocaust denier and declaring a boycott of Tumeke and his NZ blog ranking statistics at NZ Blogosphere. Half Done (Something should go here, maybe later) and Keeping Stock supported Whaleoil and it was all on. Emotional charges of holocaust denier and “joo hater,” wishing to “wipe out the Jewish state” and “destruction of a legitimate state” were made and inevitably the facts ignored.
Some even saw it as caused by blog rating envy (Half Done also produces a monthly blog rating).
Certainly there was a strong left vs right political element. And as Ethical Martini pointed out (Tumeke boycott a red herring) a right wing “weird Christian intermediate thingy.”
[As an aside, I have noticed that most of the many Christian blogs in New Zealand are politically right wing? Why is that? Surely it’s not representative of the whole NZ Christian Community?]
Religious involvement inevitable
Perhaps the religious involvement in this issue is inevitable – it certainly lies at the heart of the Middle East conflict. And although our news media has not commented very much on this, it was also intimately involved in the UN Conference on Racism. And, together with the expected concentration on only Zionist racism, was central to the decision of the USA, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries not to attend.
This was the issue of the attempts by Islamic countries to impose on the UN resolutions preventing “defamation of religion” which would markedly interfere with freedom of expression and prevent criticism of the violation of human rights in the Islamic countries, amongst others.
With this background Ahmadinejad’s speech was far more dangerous than indicated by concentrating on his criticism of Zionism. He began with salutations to “Almighty God,” Allah, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. Strange for a secular meeting.
A holy campaign?
He declared that the task of the conference was to “work out practical mechanisms for our holy and humanitarian campaigns.” His understanding of racism was that it “is rooted in the lack of knowledge concerning the truth of human existence as the selected creature of God” and sees the solution as “a return to the spiritual and moral values, and finally the inclination to worship God the Almighty.”
Ahmadinejad’s real problem with Zionism is that it “personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuse religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces.”
His call for reforming of international relations “is based on noble aspirations which centres on human beings and the supremacy of the Almighty God.” “Realisation of such a future depends upon the knowledge of the creation and the belief in the hearts of all the faithful.”
“Defamation of religion”
With this sort of language being promoted at a UN conference I think we are wise to suspect the motives of those promoting the “defamation of religion” resolutions. And we would be wise to fear the consequences of such resolutions if incorporated into the legislation of member states.
There had been some hope during preparation for this conference that progress would be made in limiting the dangerous concentration on Zionism (to the exclusion of other forms of racism) and “defamation of religion.” The USA appeared to consider the progress sufficient to warrant participation but change their mind closer to the time. Obviously there would be good arguments both for participation and for non-participation and it is up to the member countries themselves to make decisions based on the evidence they have.
I don’t know if countries like New Zealand, Australia and the USA made the correct decision. But one thing is sure. An honest struggle against all forms of racism and against attempts to limit freedom of expression in the defense of human rights will continue in one form or another.
PS: I intend to post my latest estimation of New Zealand blog rankings this week. But I hope this doesn’t precipitate a new round of conflict.
See also: With God, anything can be permitted?