Saturday, March 28, 2009

Much Ado About Durban II

The organized Jewish Community has been in a tizzy about the "Durban II" conference - the follow up to the UN's 1990 Durban Conference. They are lobbying, successfully in many cases, that Western nations boycott the conference because it "promises to be an anti-Semitic hate fest", "dominated by Islamic states." Canada, Italy and Israel have already announce they will not attend. The U.S. has said it will not attend unless major changes are made to the draft summary resolution. Many other European nations are threatening to boycott as well.

All this noise has had some effect. All references to Israel/Palestine have been removed from the draft resolution. But that's not good enough. According to the JTA:
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- It's not nearly enough.

That's the consensus among American Jewish groups over the changes made last week to the draft resolution for next month’s Durban Review Conference in Geneva, and it appears the Obama administration agrees.

While explicit negative references to Israel have been eliminated, U.S. Jewish leaders say the text's reaffirmation of the declaration from the virulently anti-Israel 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, makes the new document unacceptable.

“It's a backdoor way of including” derogatory language about Israel, said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“We have to be careful not to be fooled,” said Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman, calling the change an effort at “camouflage” to soften the opposition.

...The Obama administration has indicated that the new draft resolution is unacceptable.

The problem for the Americans, Canadians, Jewish groups and some European countries is that the new text reaffirms the Durban 2001 resolution in its very first sentence and adds a dozen more references throughout the 17-page document. ....

So what is in the 2001 Durban declaration that is so offensive? You can read the entire declaration here, but the only references I can find to Israel or Palestine are the following two paragraphs.

63. We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion;


151. As for the situation in the Middle East, calls for the end of violence and the swift resumption of negotiations, respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, respect for the principle of self-determination and the end of all suffering, thus allowing Israel and the Palestinians to resume the peace process, and to develop and prosper in security and freedom;

That's it: the great anti-Semitic hate document! And, by the way, the same document also condemns antisemitism in two of its paragraphs.

Yes, its true the document does not mention by name discrimination against Tamils in Sri Lanka, Aborigines in Australia, or Turks in Germany. But it does mention - 9 times - discrimination in Europe against Roma and 26 times discrimination everywhere against people "of African descent". The document is not perfect and not perfectly balanced, but it is not anti-Semitic or hateful as we are being lead to believe.


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