He grins, we bear it: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has an Israeli fixation. (Rick Gershon/Getty Images)
You'd think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president of Palestine, not Iran. He spends so much time obsessing about Israel, usually in terms more delirious than coherent and in equal parts bigoted and belligerent, that Iranians can reasonably wonder: Would Ahmadinejad not be better off brawling with the West Bank's more fanatic Jewish settlers--who can match him derision for derision in bigotry and belligerence--than running for a second term? We'll find out on June 12, when Iran's presidential election may (dare we hope?) send Ahmadinejad packing.
Meanwhile, he spews on. His latest grinning outburst took place yesterday at the United Nations' conference on racism in Geneva, where Ahmadinejad, the only head of state attending the conference, launched into a tirade that rapidly degenerated into attacks on Israel as a "totally racist government in occupied Palestine." (Ahmadinejad does not bother to differentiate between Israel proper and those portions of Occupied Territories that may legitimately be called occupied Palestine.)
This on the very day when Israel was marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Israel, the United States, Germany, Poland, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, New Zealand and Australia were already boycotting the conference, whose documents endorsed the Durban, South Africa conference in racism in 2001. That thing had turned into an anti-Israel bacchanal.
Once Ahmadinejad began his own one-man show in Geneva, delegates from those European nations that had turned up walked out, but with the exception of the Czech Republic, only on the speech, not the conference. The Czechs joined the boycott. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner went the other way. The meeting is "not at all a failure but the beginning of a success," he said on Europe-1 radio. Ahmadinejad's speech was "unacceptable, but we're not going to leave the conference."
Israel's vice prime minister, Silvan Shalom , launching in exaggerated warnings of his own from Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former Nazi death camp, that Iran was comparable to Nazi Germany ("What Iran is trying to do right now," he was quoted as saying in Le Monde, "isn't at all far from what Hitler did to the Jewish people 65 years ago." It's worth noting that the Iranian regime to date hasn't murdered a single Jew.)
Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau, a Holocaust survivor, was also at Auschwitz, but he had a better suggestion for the man who "appeared dripping with hatred toward the Jewish people." To Ahmadinejad, he said: "Come to Yad Vashem, we'll show you all of the archives documents and memoirs. We will present you with all the evidence until you are convinced that the Holocaust actually happened."
Ahmadinejad's outburst seemed bound to include a reprise of his standard Holocaust-denying outbreaks. But according to the Jerusalem Post, he "dropped language describing the Holocaust as 'ambiguous and dubious'" from his speech. "The UN and the Iranian Mission in Geneva did not comment on why the change was made, but UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that he had met with Ahmadinejad before his speech and reminded him that the UN had adopted resolutions "to revoke the equation of Zionism with racism and to reaffirm the historical facts of the Holocaust."