I did not think such blatant anti-semitism was possible by an American President - Jews were warned. Canada is boycotting the conference and Israel's Foreign Ministry has tried in recent months to convince European Union countries to also avoid participating.
The first Durban conference: The Durban Conference held in 2001 was supposed to help the international fight against racism.
Instead, it degenerated into an Israel-bashing session and the U.S. delegation, as you know, walked out.
Colin Powell, who was then Secretary of State, had it right when he said, “You do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of ‘Zionism equals racism’; or supports the ideas that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world, Israel, for censure and abuse.”
The U.S. will decide later whether to participate in "Durban 2," the second UN-sponsored World Conference Against Racism.
The State Department said it would send diplomats next week to participate in preparatory meetings for the World Conference Against Racism, which is set to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in April and which some countries including Israel have already decided to boycott.
Officials in Jerusalem expressed concern that Israel and Barack Obama's administration are on a collision course over the U.S. decision to participate in the conference.
The Foreign Ministry has sought to block efforts by senior U.S. officials to convince Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to alter American policy set during the Bush administration not to attend the conference, which is regarded by Israel as a forum of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli vitriol.
Israel is boycotting the conference because a declaration equating Zionism with racism is expected to be made there. In addition, it is expected that the organizers and participants will charge that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians, and, like before in Durban, will make anti-Semitic statements.
The Bush administration agreed with Israel last year that the U.S. would not participate unless it received guarantees that the conference would not become a stage for anti-Semitism and one-sided criticism of Israel, as occured during the first Durban meeting in 2001.
Canada also announced that it was boycotting the conference and the Foreign Ministry has tried in recent months to convince European Union countries to also avoid participating.
The Foreign Ministry received confidential telegraphs from Israel's embassies in Washington, the United Nations and Geneva, about a possible change in the policy of the new U.S. administration regarding "Durban 2."
"Iran and Arab countries will once more take over the conference, and if the U.S. participates in 'Durban 2,' it will be a major blow," a senior Israeli diplomat told Haaretz. "This will pull the rug from under us and will lead to the participation of many more countries in the conference."
In one of the telegrams, a number of Obama officials reportedly pressed Secretary of State Clinton to announce the U.S. would participate in the conference.
One of the leading officials pressuring Clinton on "Durban 2" is the new U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who was Obama's close campaign adviser.
Rice is also pushing for the U.S. to join the UN Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva. The body had been boycotted by the U.S., in part because of its one-sided criticism of Israel.
President George Bush had accused the HRC of opting to focus on Israel instead of dealing with the genocide in Darfur.
The other official pushing for American participation in "Durban 2" is Samantha Power, another Obama adviser at the National Security Council.
are now on the Durban II negotiating table
Anne Bayefsky, Editor of EYEontheUN, commented: "this "anti-racism" manifesto is much worse even than its predecessor. Islamic and other rights-abusing states had a field day preparing for Durban II. European states were totally unable to introduce the modifications necessary to protect human rights standards or change the clear intent of the conference."
Here are some of the features now part of negotiations according to the new draft:
- the "law of return" - the core of the self-determination of the Jewish people or Zionism - is racist
- Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity and "a contemporary form of apartheid"
- Israel's security fence is a "segregation wall"
- a provision condemning Israel's actions in Gaza
- while Israel is repeatedly condemned, not one of the other 191 UN states is mentioned
- a proposal to delete reference to the numbers of Jews murdered in the Holocaust - on the grounds that it is questionable
- a claim that "religions" - as opposed to individuals - can be "defamed"
- provisions curtailing free speech - "abuse of freedom of expression"
- efforts to limit and govern the media by "a code of ethical conduct"
- creation of a hierarchy of victims, with Muslim minorities on top - "most disturbing phenomenon is the intellectual and ideological validation of Islamophobia"
- efforts to trump universal rights and freedoms by references to cultural diversity, "cultural particularities," religious and cultural "identities"
- undermining counterterrorism activities by alleging they increase racism
- challenges to any responsibility for the trans-Saharan slave trade and the slave trade in the Indian Ocean
- introducing "anti-Arabism" as intolerance against a religious minority
- attempting to introduce laws against "projecting negative, insulting and derogatory images of religions and religious personalities"
- calls for new laws endangering rights and freedoms, such as, laws on "respect for human rights and reputation, public morals, and incitement to racial and religious hatred and freedom of expression".
The continued participation of the European Union and Australia in the Durban II forum is legitimizing a global discussion of the veracity of the Holocaust, the legitimacy of a Jewish state, and broad restrictions on freedom of expression - all in the name of "human rights".
President Obama, it is time to announce the United States will stay away from Durban II, together with Canada and Israel.