You may or may not be aware that a UN Summit on racism is currently in session.
Australia - and a number of other countries including the US - is boycotting it, largely on the basis of lobbying from Israel as far as can be gathered, on the basis that it is primarily about giving a platform to anti-semitic rants by the President of Iran. And there have indeed been anti-Israeli rants at the Conference.
According to the Catholic News Service, President "Ahmadinejad told conference participants in Geneva April 20 that Israel had "resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering" and had established a "totally racist government in the occupied Palestine." His comments prompted a temporary walkout by dozens of diplomats in attendance."
The Pope, on the other hand, has been promoting participation in the conference, arguing for the need to tackle racism and discrimination head-on.
The Vatican issued a statement condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks: “Statements like those of the Iranian president do not go in the right direction, because even if he did not deny the Holocaust or the right of Israel to exist, he expressed extremist and unacceptable positions,” said Father Lombardi.
CNS reports that the following day, the Vatican spokesman issued a broader statement, saying that "the Holy See deplores the use of this United Nations forum for the adoption of political positions of an extremist and offensive nature against any state."
"This does not contribute to dialogue and it provokes an unacceptable atmosphere of conflict," it said. Father Lombardi said the conference was an important opportunity to take new steps toward "effectively combating the racism and intolerance that still today affect children, women, those of African descent, migrants and indigenous peoples ... in every part of the world."
So just what are the proper limits of dialogue? And does the UN really perform a useful function these days?