Bern summons "Israeli" envoy amid Iran row
Switzerland has summoned ‘Israel's' representative to Bern over what it calls "excessive" criticism of a Swiss-Iranian presidential meeting.
The Swiss decision came after ‘Israel' recalled its ambassador to Bern for "consultations" in protest at a UN anti-racism conference held in Geneva as well as a meeting between the presidents of Iran and Switzerland.
"[Bern] deplores the excessive language used in this context by different ‘Israeli' representatives," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to a Tuesday report published by the Swissinfo news website.
The ministry said the "virulent" reaction from ‘Israeli' officials had raised eyebrows in Bern, as ‘Israeli' officials had been informed in advance that Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would meet.
On Monday, an unnamed ‘Israeli' official said that ‘Israeli' criticism was "an expression of ‘Israel's' discontent for the lax Swiss attitude towards Iran".
The criticism comes in spite of Switzerland having sent a low-ranking official to the anti-racism conference while the Iranian president delivered his scheduled speech.
A speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Webster University in Geneva was also canceled, apparently following intense ‘Israeli' lobbying.
The UN gathering, the Durban II Anti-Racism Conference, began its work in Geneva on Monday evening. However, key ‘Israeli' allies, such as the United States and Canada, boycotted the meeting.
Supporters of Tel Aviv walked out of the conference when President Ahmadinejad focused on crimes committed in line with the 60-year-old ‘Israeli' campaign for the establishment of a pure Jewish state.
Although some of them later on branded Ahmadinejad's comments as a 'hate speech', none of them clarified exactly which part of his remarks were offensive to a particular racial or religious group.
Some ‘Israelis' tried to disturb the gathering by shouting during Ahmadinejad's speech; others organized protests outside the conference hall hoping to portray the president as a Holocaust denier, playing the anti-Semite card against him.
The first UN anti-racism conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001 also outraged the US and ‘Israel' as it condemned Tel Aviv's ill-treatment of Palestinians and attempted to pass a resolution likening Zionism to racism.
President Ahmadinejad has on various occasions called for scientific research into the events of the Holocaust, based on the argument that debate must be allowed into all historic events within the boundaries of freedom of speech.
A number of European countries have laws that prohibit public questioning of the Holocaust.
President Ahmadinejad has also attacked the Zionist ideology -- not the Jewish faith -- as it sanctions the occupation of land owned by Palestinians, who are also Semites.
His oft-quoted, mistranslated comments about 'wiping ‘Israel' off the map' have also been disputed, as no mention of the land occupied by ‘Israel' has been made and his original words relate the Zionist regime.
According to the Iranian president, the extent of the Holocaust is a 'myth' greatly exaggerated by the Europeans who sought to set up a pure Jewish state in the heart of the Palestinian lands.
The only solution to the Palestinian plight, Ahmadinejad has said, is to hold a referendum of all people -- Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc. -- living in the occupied lands and to allow them to determine their fate by themselves.