Why exactly did Britain lead a walkout of the UN anti-racism conference yesterday? True to form, rather than focusing on the obvious issue of what was said in the speech, and why the protesting governments considered it so objectionable, the media focused on the narrow diplomatic issues raised by the walkout itself. On BBC Newsnight Jeremy Paxman interrogated the UK Ambassador to the UN in Geneva in his usual manner, firing off innocuous questions masked in an aggressive and irreverent tone. First he why the UK government had attended the conference in the first place. He later accused the Ambassador of playing into the hands of the wicked Ahmedinajed. “What you have done today is exactly what someone like President Ahmedinajed wants,” Paxman complained, “He’s won today.”
One section of the interview however was revealing:
Jeremy Paxman: What is the difference between Zionism and racism?
Peter Gooderham: Well we see the two as being quite distinct…
Jeremy Paxman: Yeah what’s the difference?
Peter Gooderham: Well Zionism is a political movement related to the establishment of a homeland…
Jeremy Paxman [quietly]: So are some forms of racism.
Peter Gooderham:…a Jewish homeland, in the er…in what is now Israel and racism is something else. I mean racism is, I think we all know it when we see it and it’s not, it’s not that, and we have fought long and hard at the United Nations to keep that, to maintain that distinction.
So there you go. Zionism is not racism because we know racism when we see it and it’s not that. Just like we know terrorism when we see it, and it’s not this.