Summer break over: Durban II, get ready to rumble

Navanethem PillayConcerned about attacks on Israel’s human rights record, Canada, the United States and Israel will likely boycott the Switzerland follow up to the infamous 2001 South African Durban conference on racism. Now, the new UN Human Rights chief Navanethem Pillay is pissed.

“I do not believe that ‘all or nothing’ is the right approach to affirm one’s principles or to win an argument,” Pillay said. “Should differences be allowed to become pretexts for inaction, the hopes and aspirations of the many victims of intolerance would be dashed irreparably.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Shimon Samuels is also upset that the Arab Lawyers Union was one of 6 co-sponsors of a UNESCO workshop, “Human Rights and Armed Conflict: Principles and Practices,” featuring Israeli left-wing historian Ilan Pappe.

Samuels condemns the Arab Lawyers Union because he says they distributed a booklet of “violently” anti-Semitic cartoons in 2001 at Durban.

Samuels tells the UN that

astonishingly, the approval by your organizers to accept this workshop, despite the known record of its cosponsor and speakers, violates the ‘Rules of Engagement’ of your conference issued at its opening, which argues that “(B)igotry of any kind will not be tolerated (including hate literature or vulgarities aimed at demeaning anyone’s race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political opinion, social origin, property, disability, birth or any other status).”

Having seen widely available anti-Semitic and anti-Christian literature on book stalls in Egypt with my own eyes, and having heard stories from Egyptian and American friends about the terrible anti-Jewish cartoons you can regularly see in the papers, and how such anti-Semitism serves the elites, I have absolutely no problem believing an Egyptian group could distribute anti-Semitic cartoons. Further, in this case, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency confirmed images of “hook-nosed Jews depicted as Nazis, spearing Palestinian children, dripping blood from their fangs.”

That said, I personally encountered Shimon Samuels and his form of human rights “reporting” at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India  in 2004 and I have absolutely no trouble saying he’s either the sloppiest reporter on the face of the planet, or a deliberate prevaricator. Back then, he tried to whip up a frenzy about the extensive WSF Jew hatred. I was there. I went to virtually every session he went to. And his final report pretty much got everything wrong. It was either appalling, or brilliant propaganda, depending on your perspective. When you’re thousands of miles away, and you claim to be the only witness, you can take tiny snippets of real information and use them to make things up out of whole cloth. That’s what Samuels did.

Besides, an easy argument can be made that many fundraising pieces coming out of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and groups like it, are full color pieces of anti-Islam and anti-Arab propaganda. My family gets this stuff in the mail, and it’s cringe-inducing in its crudeness–the anti-Islamic version of a late night infomercial selling you the Magic Bullet or Rejuvenique. Or in this case, Fear-Of-The-Other!

And it works.

Which is really too bad. What do you do when you realize the nut jobs on all sides are out there telling the rest of us the difference between the vicious bigots and the good guys.