Around 6, I leave the conference to catch the tram home. The stop is at the same plaza where the Holocaust Remembrance ceremony was last night. The place with the chair. I hear chanting and sure enough, there are the same kids from Monday who had the fake pro Human Rights signs. Scary right wing group Stand with Us (folks who have absolutely nothing to do with Darfur) is boasting about their good work.
Only now, they have switched outfits, different signs (except for a few), and Darfurian friends. At least in front. Behind them there appear to be numerous handlers. The grownups, if you will. The kids are from the French and European Unions of Students. I feel sorry for them. I bet most of them are real idealists. They have no idea that they, like the Darfurians, are being used as part of a hateful effort.
Now mind you, some of these kids have already done a major action today. Monday, Stand with Us handlers had them with duct tape and “human rights” posters, including the one with the fake photo of a Muslim woman being stoned.
Yesterday, some of them donned clown wigs and noses and interrupted Achmedinejad. “For months we said that this conference is a circus, this conference is a masquerade,â€ said President of the French Union of Jewish Students Raphael Haddad. (What a great PR mind behind all of this.) Today, even more of the student clowns disrupted the main conference area right after the adoption of the outcome paper. This document makes no mention of Israel, but affirms the 2001 document which mentions Israel, anti-Semitism, Palestinians, the Holocaust in 6 short and entirely mild and appropriate paragraphs.
Again, they wear the clown wigs and masks and a French newspaper, tipped off and ready to shoot, I presume, runs a headline that says something like “Durban II a Joke.”
These guys are good. In a sense, the take home message is- people working on human trafficking; indigenous rights, slavery reparations; racist attacks– you and your work are a joke. Everything you’ve done here is a joke.
A gentleman who is the head of some key UN NGO group later says that the NGOs make a deal to not protest inside the conference, and that they are supposed to have their access yanked if they do. Even he wonders aloud why this group of students has been allowed to stay and massively disrupt the proceedings two days in a row.
But now it’s 6 and the juggernaut continues.
There are many kids and many handlers standing behind them. The “kids” are either the young Jewish students or Darfurians. The handlers are all with, well, it’s hard to say. One guy holds a red clown nose in his hand, in case we hadn’t already made the connection.
At some point, they start chanting for the firing of Ban Ki-Moon, the UN chief. It’s actually hard to watch such a cynical use of the Darfurians and their suffering to further a completely different agenda, an agenda that furthers repression against another people.
In fact, a Palestinian delegate tells me earlier that she got yelled at in an NGO gathering because there is now so much tension between the Arab delegates and the Africans, especially over Darfur. They are driving wedges, and in the case of Darfur, it’s working.
This is in striking contrast to the largely African AmericanÂ NGO contingent, which sees the Israel issue as an excuse. No one has seen it useful to divide them from their Palestinian colleagues and anyhow, they’re super sharp and know the score.
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