My first reaction is: look who's calling the kettle black. Fascists and anti-Semites like the Pope and Ahmadinejad have no standing to participate in any conference of this sort. Which is not to say I buy into Israel's position. Where does ethnocentrism and nationalism end and racism begin? Does racism exist if the parties concerned belong to the same "race?" Do the parties concerned perceive themselves as different races?
I have no problem calling Israeli policies into question or raising the Palestinian question in whatever forum is appropriate. There is, however, a question of ideological dishonesty. If the question of human rights violations deserves a forum, then let's broaden the concept of the conference to call them all into question at once: persecution of national and religious minorities, imperial assaults on captive populations. Women aren't a race, but what about the violation of the basic rights of women? Whether or not race or racism is involved, why not have a tribunal for all violators of human rights, whether they be Israelis, Saudis, Iranians, Serbians, etc.? Either all forms of discrimination are racist or some are describable in some other fashion, but given the flexible definition of race I question the contemporary relevance of a conference devoted exclusively to race. A human rights violation that falls outside that definition may be even more crucial than one that falls within it. If we agreed, as I would, that the situation of the Palestinians is dire, then let's put it on the agenda no matter what we call it, but then let's just drop the concept of race.
I don't buy the formula Zionism = racism. Historically, there have been a number of ideologies connected with Zionism, some of which would fall under the category of racialist or at least Romanticist thinking. But is Zionism so far different from other manifestations of nationalism? Why not just condemn them all? Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu are correct about one another. One must maintain some political clarity here or we end up with intolerable confusion of this sort.
I'd rather see an anti-fascist conference concentrating on how to rid the world of this beast in whatever state or para-state form it exists. I wonder how many official delegations from nation-states would be left standing after the conference were over.
This bullshit is a legacy of the political confusion stemming from the anti-colonial movements of the '50s and '60s, and the lack of clarity delineating the left from mere anti-imperialism, the two of which do not coincide but which have often been opportunistically conflated. There is nothing inherently progressive about third world nationalism.
One might also check the historical record of atheists on these questions. Both pro- and anti-Israel tendencies in the ranks of atheists have often been guilty of historical and political childishness and sometimes downright bigotry. The assumption that religion is the ultimate, singular causal origin of conflict yields eccentric political positions, whether the erstwhile anti-Semitic outbursts of the O'Hair's or the idiotic, thoughtless pro-Israel, anti-Muslim pronouncements of the ignoramus Sam Harris.
Well, there is no easy answer to this, but I don't think there are any innocent parties here. IMO, the Jews are racists, especially the orthodox Jews. They believe they are god's chosen race and that it is wrong for them to intermarry with other (read inferior) races.
I don't support antisemitism, and the holocaust was a really, really terrible injustice. But do modern Israeli's act any different now (than the Nazi's did back then) in their dealings with the Palestinians? It doesn't appear so. Maybe they don't have concentration camps, but their attitude towards the Palestinians exist solely because they are not Jews.
Of course, the Palestinians aren't meek, innocent victims either it appears.
And Ahmadinejad is a nut anyhow. People listening to him and taking him seriously at a conference is no different than listening to Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps. Can anyone really take these people seriously?
"the Jews are racists"--really, the Jews all over the world?
Those who believe that they are god's chosen race, yes, I would say so. No, not those who reject that myth.
Do orthodox Jews conceive of themselves as a race? If someone outside of their group converted to Judaism, would that person be a member of their race or not?
To my understanding, orthodox Jews do not accept converts. They are outsiders.
How do you account for orthodox Jews who reject the state of Israel as blasphemous?
Can't answer that. Never heard of it.
". . . attitude towards the Palestinians exist solely because they are not Jews."
So the climate of fear or colonial-settler paranoia is not a factor?
If Palestine had been occupied by lets say, a lost or forgotten tribe of Jews, and the newer Jewish settlers moved in, then would we have this conflict? I'm inclined to think not. The climate of fear or colonial-settler paranoia of which you mention is fueled by the fact that the Palestinians are different from the Jews.
As for equation with the Nazis, that's not quite so . . . yet.
Don't the Palestinians have to go through check points and carry ID cards? Aren't they targeted for discrimination and exclusion to resources and opportunities? Aren't they considered by many Jews as undesireables? I'm not a history buff, but that sounds like Nazi Germany to me. Like I said, they don't have concentration camps, but aren't the Jews, who used to be the oppressed, turning into oppressors themselves? Let's face it, Israel, thanks to the US, has far superior military power than the Palestinians. But is that power used to pacify, heal, promote peace, heal wounds, create a better future, etc? Doesn't seem so.