On the second day of the U.N.’s “Question of Palestine” conference in Geneva, a participant said that the states who walked out of the Durban II racism conference were “UN Watch sympathizers” who protested “so-called Holocaust denial.”
The representative of the Third World Network organization also complained that UN Watch had invited Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to speak at a side event during Durban II, and said it was wonderful that he could come to today’s U.N. conference and escape claims of anti-Semitism that are usually made when people debate Israel and Palestine.
Attendance of Geneva diplomats was lower today compared to yesterday, but the one-sidedness of the commentary increased, with any pretense of balance cast aside. First to speak was Phyllis Starkey, Labour member of the British parliament.
She complained that it was hard to keep Israel and Palestine on the agenda in the United Kingdom whilst the nation’s large Tamil and Zimbabwean communities also fought for center stage. Ms Starkey went on to focus her presentation on making the Palestinian cause more relevant to the British and efforts to curb some Israeli exports to the UK.
Phyllis Bennis, co-chair of the International Coordinating Network for Palestine, accused Israel of committing “acts of apartheid.” She considered the UK’s recent cancellation of weapon contracts to Israel an act of boycott, eliciting a smile from MP Ms. Starkey across the table.
Nasser Al Laham of the Ma’an News Agency gave a conspiratorial account of the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza. He claimed that Israeli pilots frequently dropped bombs before going home to see what they had hit on the news. He accused soldiers of acting like Gaza was a “casino” and a “game.” He concluded by arguing the media encourages war because the owners also owned oil and weapons companies and stood to benefit from the continuation of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.
Even Ms. Starkey appeared a little embarrassed by the extremity of the NGO representative’s comment on “so-called Holocaust denial.” She stated that President Ahmadinejad cannot be described as “anything other than an anti-Semite.” She admitted it was “not surprising” that some could be accused of anti-Semitism. The MP then spoke of the hypocrisy of states that practice torture themselves, yet accuse Israel of the same crimes, adding “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”