ZOA: U.S. Should Leave Durban II Racism Conference Proceedings Without Delay
News
February 27, 2009

 


 


Reports that U.S. fighting anti-Israel agenda untrue


 


  


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), amid mounting concerns at the shamelessly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tenor of the preparatory talks in Geneva for the United Nations Durban II World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, due in April, has called upon the Obama administration to boycott all further conference proceedings following reports of similar hostile agenda being pursued by the conference organizers and which are not being opposed by the US representatives present. This has happened despite the fact that a member of the U.S. delegation told The Washington Post: “The administration is pushing back against efforts to brand Israel as racist in this conference.”


 


At the first such conference, held in Durban, South Africa in September 2001, both the UN-sponsored non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as the UN’s governmental conference passed declarations denouncing Israel as a racist state. The NGO conference also called for a coordinated international campaign aimed at delegitimizing Israel and belittling the Holocaust. The United States refused all support or funding for the Durban I Conference in 2001 and boycotted its proceedings. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said at the time, “I know that you do not combat racism by suggesting that apartheid exists in Israel.”


 


On this occasion however, not only is the U.S. attending the preparatory talks for the Conference but its delegates are not opposing the viciously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic agenda being pursued in these.


 


·        The U.S. delegation lodged no objection to the Iranian torpedoing of a European Union (EU) suggested provision to “condemn without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urges all states to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full, or in part, or any activities to this end.” The Iranian objection blocked adoption of the proposal, yet when the chair asked, “Is there any delegation wishing to comment on this new proposal by the European Union? It doesn’t seem the case. We move on.” U.S. delegates said nothing, even after the prompt.


·        The U.S. delegates voiced no objection to a new proposal to single out Israel for condemnation in a proposed anti-racism manifesto that makes no reference to any other country and which is mean to be non-country-specific.


·        At a planning session in Geneva on Thursday, the U.S. delegation, though objecting to other matters in draft texts, raised no objection to an amendment proposed by the Palestinian delegation calling for “implementation of… the advisory opinion of the ICJ [International Court of Justice] on the wall, [i.e., Israel’s security fence], and the international protection of Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.” [The 2004 ICJ’s advisory opinion on the security fence claimed that Israel has no right to self-defense against Palestinian terrorism. At the time, both the US and Israel rejected the ICJ’s authority to issue an opinion on the subject]. The U.S.’ silence on the Palestinian paragraph means that it is not flagged as controversial and cannot now be reopened for discussion at a later stage.


 


 


The Durban II preparatory committee is chaired by Libya. Vice chairs include Iran and Cuba, and the conference is organized under the auspices of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the Bush Administration refused to join and which has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than it has passed against any other country.


 


The initial draft of the Durban II text, posted on the United Nations Web site, states of Israel, “A foreign occupation founded on settlements, laws based on racial discrimination with the aim of continuing domination of the occupied territories,” it adds, is a “contemporary form of apartheid and a serious threat to international peace and security.” An alternative paragraph calls for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and refers to the “racial policies of the occupying power.” Israel itself is not named in the document, although the reader can clearly understand where it is being referenced.


 


Israel and Canada have already announced they do not intend to participate in the Durban II Conference in April. It has also been reported that Britain and Italy are considering boycotting Durban II unless they receive guarantees that it doesn’t turn into an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hate-fest. Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown said on Tuesday: “If we can’t go forward now, we will withdraw. I was at the first conference. I have never seen such a disgraceful event in quite a long international life … There are red lines that need to be made for us to participate. The US is in the same position as most of Europe. We are not going to stand idly by and allow this racist stuff to get through and be seen as acceptable. We are not going to have it.” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: “We will not send an Italian delegation [if it is the same as Durban 2001], but we will try to harmonise our position with other countries who are the friends of Jews. But we will leave a decision until the last minute.” (Leon Simons, ‘Britain and Italy threaten to drop out of Durban II,’ Jewish Chronicle [London], February 19, 2009).


 


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is appalled but not surprised at the promotion of shameless anti-Semitism and anti-Israel language at the Durban II preparatory talks. Given the hateful and virulent agenda revealed at Durban I and the fact that Durban II is simply an effort to further the agenda agreed upon at Durban I, it was virtually a certainty that the Durban II preparatory talks would be characterized by the virulently anti-Jewish, anti-Israel language that has in fact emerged.


 


“What need not have happened was American participation, which helped legitimize these disgraceful proceedings. Especially unnecessary and damaging has been American participation that has involved no effort to oppose the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agenda being advanced in the presence of American representatives.


 


“It should have been obvious to the Obama Administration and the State Department that the U.S. that these proceedings would be hostile to Jews and Israel, as the agenda had already been set in previous planning sessions chaired by Libya, Cuba, Iran and Pakistan. Yet, having already attended, the U.S. was duty bound to set an example among the democracies and oppose this agenda and it has not. As a result, European states like France, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, which were all considering boycotting the conference, may not do so now. Without American leadership, it is harder for other, smaller democracies to take a firm stand.


 


“The Durban II conference, like its predecessor, is integral to the global campaign to wage a diplomatic and legal war against the Jewish state. As New Republic’s Marty Peretz, an Obama supporter, has written, “If this is what engagement with our adversaries means, our friends should be very wary. The president has not yet been heard from on these happenings. Nor for that matter has [U.S.] Ambassador [to the UN Susan] Rice. I believe that many people are waiting.”


 


“The ZOA is strongly critical of the U.S. decision to attend the Durban II preparatory meetings and urges President Obama to withdraw all further U.S. participation without delay.”

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