Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Counter Walkout

Iranian delegates walked out of an inter-faith conference in Kazakhstan as Israeli President Shimon Peres took the stage. The stunt was widely seen as a reaction to the mass walkout that greeted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech before the Durban II follow-up conference -- a speech which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said was intended "to accuse, divide and even incite." But the parallel is more revealing than the Iranian's perhaps intended. The anti-Ahmadinejad walkout was prompted by the fact that his speech was flagrantly anti-Semitic, as even some of his defenders admitted. Peres, by contrast, saw a walkout in a speech where he called for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, an end to terrorist violence (which he noted had claimed many Muslim victims), and praised the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

It doesn't surprise me that the Iranian government finds this offensive. The priorities they've demonstrated over the years (not to mention these past few weeks) have clearly indicated their views on the topics of peace and human rights. I'm quite proud to be on the side of those who refuse to tolerate hate, and against those who refuse to hear a message of peace.

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