I read this article the other night about the Iranian President’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly. In short, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blames Western counties and Jews worldwide for the world’s social and financial crisis. Apart from my opinion of his vicious character and horrible accusations, which I am sure many of you share, there are other points worth talking about that relate to race and ethnicity.
Ahmadinejad’s speech refers to Western countries (the U.S. and its European allies) as a whole group, which is bad as it is, but furthermore he repeatedly singles out the “Zionists” (Israelis and Jews worldwide) as the “other.” This is a good example of the racialization of religion by dehumanizing the Jews, making them the “other,” and holding them responsible for the world’s problems. Although he blames many nations (but doesn’t specifically name them except for the U.S.), he makes sure to name a particular “racial” group: the Zionists.
When this topic came up in conversations many people seemed upset about it, but yet I’ve heard similar comments from them, such as, “The guy is a lunatic, nobody cares about what he says,” or, “Everybody knows he’s crazy, no one takes him seriously.” Just a few decades ago, such rhetoric was a rallying point for the Holocaust, and historically has been used to justify hundreds of years of persecution of Jewish people. Thus, I question why the global community is not more suspicious of his anti-Semitic speech based on how similar rhetoric lead to one of the worst atrocities of the twentieth century. Giving the platform to Ahmadinejad, whose racist propaganda uses our democracy to taunt our values of human rights, suggests complicity in, or at least the turning of a blind eye to, such antisemitism.
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