From CNN's Bob Ruff
But when it came time to speak later in the day, Mr. Ahmadinejad launched into a tirade against Israel, Western Europe, and the United States. He was especially tough on Israel, saying that they are racists by running “the most cruel and repressive regime in Palestine.”
Many of the delegates hung around to listen to all of it, but dozens expressed their displeasure by walking out barely 3 minutes into the speech. Protestors repeatedly tried to interrupt the President’s speech.
The United States and Israel apparently anticipated Ahmadinejad’s tirade. They never even bothered to show up. President Obama’s chief spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters, “I think the President and the Administration made the right decision by not going forward in attendance, despite obviously a president who believes greatly that racism and intolerance must be addressed.”
The woman in charge of the conference, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay was upset. Pillay told reporters that she was “shocked and saddened by everything he (Ahmadinejad) said.” She was especially troubled that the Iranian President “departed from the cardinal rule of this conference, that we deal with the conference in terms of themes and concepts rather than focusing on any one country.”
What did the Israelis think of all of it? Their UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev told CNN it’s a “very sad day for the international community.” She also pointed the finger right back at Ahmadinejad by adding there’s “a lot of racism in Iran itself. Iran is stoning women. Iran is hanging gays.”
During his controversial visit to New York in 2006 Ahmadinejad said there were no gays in Iran. He also said the murder of six million Jews in Europe should not be treated as fact.
The Betelsmann Foundation’s Laurie Dundon has an idea why Ahmadinejad makes such controversial remarks. She says it’s domestic politics. “I think he’s walking that line” she says, to “placate both the hardliners at home and (Iran’s) role on the global stage.”