Stretching My Gambes

Ahmadinejad is causing trouble again…

with 4 comments

Following all the debate as to who was or wasn’t going to attend, and what should or should not be included in the draft statement, the UN anti-racism conference in Geneva went ahead earlier today. 

Unsurprisingly, it was Ahmadinejad, the only head of state in attendance, who took the limelight. The label given to him by a far more astute observer than myself, ‘the Justin Timberlake of Iranian politics’, appears more apt the more I read about and observe this man. 

Ahmadinejad branded Israel a ‘cruel and oppressive racist regime’, claiming that the state of Israel was created ‘on the pretext of Jewish suffering’ from the second world war. Cue the exit of UN Ambassadors from predominantly European countries (the US was never there, probably because they knew they’d have to get up and leave anyway).

Alternatively, why not engage with the inaccuracy of his remarks? Why grant him the coverage he craves? I don’t think that Ahmadinejad actually believes what he claims, why not illustrate the inaccuracy for him. Encouraging and engaging with the right to freedom of speech only helps to denounce the fallacies that people construct; we need to demonstrate how and why Ahmadinejad is wrong. 

Had Netanyahu claimed that Iran was an anti-Semitic and racist state (which he has), he would not have received the same response from European dignitaries. The issue of freedom of speech appears again. In the international community it is only those that appeal to the dominant ‘Western’ norms and ‘truth conditions’ who are encouraged and granted the freedom to speak, whilst those who counter accepted norms and ‘truth conditions’ are too easily denounced. Ahmadinejad’s willingness to do this, and to question the legitimacy and behaviour of Israel, thus grant him legitimacy in the eyes of those still feeling the brunt of American, European and Israeli action in the Middle East and the Gulf, particularly those who see Iran as a bastion against the spread of Zionism in the Middle East, and the neo-imperialist policies of the US (Iran is popular in Latin America).

Ahmadinejad is an idiot, and his denial of the holocaust goes beyond disrespect, but the issues that his claims raise are valid regardless of the content of his speech. Anti-Iranian sentiment is encouraged by his behaviour but it also encouraged by the US, Europe and Israel, through rhetoric and policy, particular the neoconservative establishment in the US. The reality of Jews living in Iran is often overlooked; Jewish cemeteries in Tehran are not desecrated with schwastickas as in some Western European capitals.

As much as he graves the limelight and is perhaps to stupid to engage with the broader issues that his behaviour raises, it does raise important issues about the monopolisation of truth and freedom of speech in the international community. 

Whilst his statements are false and inaccurate, I just wonder if had someone else have raised them if the response would have been the same? Would JT himself have inspired such a walk out?


Written by Henry Smith

20/04/2009 at 23:59

4 Responses

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  1. Very good comment, I agree.
    However I don’t think Ahmadinejad is an idiot at all; what he says and does, although disrespectful and sometimes lacking substance, makes perfect sense to me in terms of political gains and preservation of political status…


    21/04/2009 at 14:37

  2. Agreed.
    However, I’m with Marco in thinking Ahmadinejad is wilier than that.

    Suppose this: What if he knew that saying such inflammatory things would inspire a walk out, and he did so anyway because now, at least in regard to free speech, he has a slightly higher ground?

    Put his hideous stance and ideas aside: he’s just shown the countries that walked out are like stroppy little children who won’t talk to someone unless they say what they want to hear.

    Ironically (and dangerously), now it seems like Ahamadinejad is the one who’s willing to debate (regardless of how racist his side of the debate is), and the others are just covering their ears shaking their heads…


    21/04/2009 at 15:43

  3. I agree with both of you in regards to Ahmadinejad being a wily political calculator; he is, of couse, a populist first and foremost. However, even though he brings up the issue of freedom of speech he will not bring anything substantive to it. He will raise hell and rhetoric but in terms of a substantive contribution to a discussion he can offer very little. Unlike Khatami for instance who has unfortunately pulled out of the electoral race.

    Another point that is important is that Ahmadinejad’s actions have done little to improve the lot of those who are subject and victim to the less appealing aspects of Israeli identity and foreign policy. I mean those who live in Gaza, the West Bank, Southern Lebanon and in Israel itself. So much for the commitments of Iranian foreign policy!


    23/04/2009 at 00:21

  4. not meaning to lower the tone of this political discourse… but my is he bringing sexy back..


    13/05/2009 at 01:28

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