Things got juicy on the BBC’s Newsnight program following the Great Walkout at the Iranian President’s speech at the UN Conference on Racism last week. Interviewer Jeremy Paxman pulled no punches as he interrogated UK Ambassador Peter Gooderham on the reasons for the walk-out.
The exchange between these two men is significant in that the journalist clearly recognizes the antics in Switzerland as a "stunt" but the Ambassador insists on calling it a "protest". As for the difference between Zionism and racism, that’s a vital question.
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: 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.
What do you think? Can there be a progressive Zionism? Were the EU members right to protest some of the rhetoric of Iran? Is there a ground for progressives to stand that is neither in the camp of occupation and Zionism nor the camp of political Islam and anti-Semitism?