It's the international diplomacy's world version of "What if I had a party and nobody came?" After the United States announced it would boycott the United Nations' conference on racism next week, Australia and the Netherlands joined the list of symbolic absentias. Canada, Israel, Italy, and Sweden have also refused to attend based on a meeting agenda that, as the U.S. State Department says, "prejudges key issues that can only be resolved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians." Australia's foreign minister says some of the meeting's foundation is outright "anti-Semitic," and the fact that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—a Holocaust denier—will be present isn't helping the case. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights is "shocked and deeply disappointed" at the boycott, arguing that those countries taking part are letting "one or two issues to dominate their approach to this issue, allowing them to outweigh the concerns of numerous groups of people that suffer racism and similar forms of intolerance to a pernicious and life-damaging degree on a daily basis all across the world." Stateside, the Congressional Black Congress says it is "deeply dismayed" that America's first black president won't be at the meeting. Among those willing to attend the conference is U.S. ally Great Britain.
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