Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking Thursday at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit host by his country, called Israelis “ferocious Zionist wolves who digest the Palestinian people.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who controversially decided to attend the summit amid the Islamic Republic’s growing nuclear program and routine calls for the Jewish state’s destruction, defended Israel in a statement before the start of the summit, but did not specifically mention Iran.
“Claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold,” Ban, who also did not leave the room in protest during Khamenei’s speech, said.
Martin Nesirky, Ban’s spokesman, said the secretary-general conveyed to Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in separate meetings that their anti-Semitic diatribes were unacceptable. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, however, said Ban’s decision to attend the NAM summit held greater significance than his words.
“Ban’s contention that he could only deliver a strong message to Iran in Iran doesn’t hold water—his message has been watered down by his very presence there,” Ayalon told Israel Radio.”If he wanted to deliver a strong message, he could have done it best by not attending.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the summit, which drew more than 120 countries to Iran, “a disgrace and a stain on humanity.”