Tag Archives: Durban II

Pt. II Dershowitz et al, “The worst two hours of my life.”

That’s what a Palestinian friend from the West Bank said after what was at times a hateful, nasty 2-hour long harangue by Anne Bayefsky, Jon Voight, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Natan Sharansky and Shelby Steele. “I just listened to 2 hours of demonization of Palestinians and Muslims fueled by racism and hate,” said my clearly shaken friend.

I already posted some choice quotes by Jon-the-new-Holocaust-Voight. The tour de force of the session, ostensibly on anti-semitism but really promoting anti-Arab/Palestinian/Muslim hate, was Alan Dershowitz. (Although conservative African American scholar Shelby Steele, who gets plenty of applause from a room  filled with white people, reaches a whole new depth in his theory about the end of white supremacy and the deep shame of people of color regarding their own inadequacies.)

Dershowitz is the schoolyard bully all grown-up, very smart and even angrier. Watching him, you feel like he might explode. Like all good demagogues, he knows how to whip up an audience at the most nasty applause lines. I admit it. I’m scared of him.

In the age of Obama and Iraq war exhaustion, the War on Terror clearly no longer provides the right wing Israel lobby with the umph it needs to delegitimize Palestinian claims for justice or, frankly, simple human decency. Here, Dershowitz launches a new frame. Netanyahu et al have been pushing the Hitler/Ahmedinejad comparison for some time now. But this is the first time I’ve heard such a sweeping condemnation of Palestinians (with a few exceptions of course, because Dersh “doesn’t like to generalize”) as Nazis. Excerpts from video above:

“Painful truths about the Holocaust today are being suppressed by college campuses, they’re being suppressed wherever the Palestinian conflict is being discussed. My painful job today is to talk about one of those very difficult historical truths that many would prefer to see ignored..

The terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy is that there is a direct unbroken line between Hitler and [the anti-semitic Palestinian Mufti} Husseini  on the one hand, and today Hamas and radical Islamic Jihadists on the other hand. They are the heirs of Hitler. Ahmedinejad their spoonsor is the heir of Hitler. Those who are complicit in that evil are complicit in the evil of  Nazism. Nazism has not disappeared from the world today. It has the same genocidal goals….

Woe unto any of you out there who support Hamas. You are supporting Hitler’s heirs. Whether you consider yourself a leftist or a centrist, you are complicit in the worst evil of the twentieth century. And there is no way of breaking that bond. As long as Hamas maintains its genocidal attitudes towards the Jewish people…

This conference is a hate fest. Like Nuremberg was a hate fest…

Durban I traces its roots to Nuremberg. It traces its roots to the Nazi-Husseini alliance.

There is a lot to say about his line of reasoning. In future posts.

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Durban Review Conference Roundup

Scholar Stephen Zunes does a terrific job of putting the Durban happenings in a broader context:

Legitimate concerns about Israeli policies regularly appear at international forums sponsored by the United Nations. But they have sometimes been contaminated by sweeping statements condemning the state of Israel itself, and portraying some of the most racist and chauvinistic aspects of Zionism as representative of Jewish nationalism as a whole. However, these kinds of discriminatory resolutions have been declining in recent years, as countries have become more willing to recognize that, while some governments may pursue racist policies, no state should be singled out as inherently racist in and of itself. Efforts by anti-Israel delegations at the 2001 anti-racism conference in Durban were defeated and weren’t considered a realistic threat at the Geneva Conference either.

…Still, even some of the more reasonable resolutions critical of Israel proposed at the 2001 conference distracted attention from the broader issues at stake. Such efforts often result in dividing Jews — themselves a historically oppressed people — from their natural allies among people of color. Furthermore, other governments that have as bad or even more racist policies than Israel have not been subjected to as much attention at such conferences.

The JTA reports:

The United Nations pulled credentials from a number of Jewish activists who disrupted a speech by the Iranian president at the Durban Review Conference.

Of the 46 badges that were pulled this week for disruptive behavior, the vast majority were from individuals accredited through Jewish organizations. Notably, the French Union of Jewish Students lost 21 badges.

Credentials were stripped as well from four members of the European Union of Jewish Students and one B’nai Brith member. Between them, the French and European Jewish student groups had 370 members accredited, amounting to more than one-third of all the NGO activists at the conference.

U.N. officials said they believed Jewish activists who already had their credentials pulled swapped badges with members of another group, Coexist.

Antony Loewenstein has some things to say:

The purpose of Durban remains essential, namely finding ways to address genuine human rights issues across the globe. Israel should not be protected from criticism or abuse. It’s a normal country, like any other.

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Ahmadinejad’s speech: Why it was a disaster.

I was at Ahmadinejād’s speech yesterday, and I have the crappy photos from the media area to prove it. It was dramatic, to say the least. Counter-protesters yelled (and were removed) throughout; applause lines invariably left half the room silent; there was obviously over exuberant applause from the Iranian delegates which made you wonder, and at a dramatic but expected moment at the beginning, the European delegates walked out.

I’ll quote from Human Rights Watch’s statement and the NYT, because, with one major exception regarding the Times, they roughly match my response to the speech. But I’ll add that somewhere in the middle of his talk, I suddenly felt anxiety coursing through my body and actually thought, “I wonder if this is how wars get started?” It was just a feeling, and may have no basis in reality, but it should be absolutely clear that- at times soaring rhetoric aside- this man has absolutely no interest in authentic peace and justice. And I do not trust either my own government or Israel to not start bombing.

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Israel’s publicity campaign at Durban II- not really boycotting after all

Turns out Israel is here in full force at Durban II. Earlier today I told you about the range of Israeli-government-narrative-only events being held in UN buildings, while Palestinian NGOs have been banned from holding side-events. (The transparent excuse is that the side-events can not be region specific, only issue specific. The real story is the UN simply folded to pressure.)

As one respondent told me, the UN Human Rights Commissioner is still reeling because she folded on all of the US demands to essentially cleanse the Palestinian narrative from the conference, and still the US and others pulled out. Of course, the UN can’t say no to any leader of state who wants to speak. I’ll post more later about the disaster that was Ahmadinejad’s speech, which, it can be said with certainty, put the issue of Israel and the US back into the center of the conference. In fact, his speech made the scarily well-run Israeli government/pro-occupation NGO propaganda campaign almost unnecessary.

Haaretz explains:

Israel, which had said it would boycott the event from the outset, announced it would launch a publicity campaign while it is going on. Israel is particularly concerned with the planned address by Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and said it will organize demonstrations during the speech, and will distribute materials on human rights violations in Iran – with particular emphasis on public executions and violence against women.

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Hatemonger Ahmedenijad and Durban II conference condemned by hatemonger

No, this is not a joke.

None other than Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a man who openly advocates for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and who wants to make Arab citizens of Israel take a loyalty oath, has issued a statement condemning the conference:

Israel has decided to boycott the international conference supposedly promoting the struggle against racism, which will open tomorrow (20 April, 2009) in Geneva, because it reached the regretful conclusion that instead of discussing issues regarding the international struggle against racism and xenophobia, the conference will once again serve as a platform to denigrate Israel and single it out for criticism. This was the case with the first Durban Conference in 2001, during which the real issues on the international agenda were ignored in favor of unfettered attacks against the State of Israel.

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Huh? Obama condemns Durban I Statement

Haaretz reports that Barack Obama said:

“We expressed in the run-up to this conference our concerns that if you adopted all of the language from 2001, that’s not something we can sign up for,” Obama said on Sunday. “Our participation would have involved putting our imprimatur on something we just didn’t believe in.”

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Durban Review UN Conference 2009- Ahmadinejad, Dershowitz and Angelina Jolie’s crazy dad

Palestinian groups banned from UN conference side-events while Alan Dershowitz and Angelina’s dad get special treatment.

I’m writing this post from Geneva and already the surreal circus has begun. The controversy over Israel threatens to once again completely overshadow the massive, important work done by NGOs to combat racism and discrimination. First, the US just announced it is boycotting Durban II. As Mondoweiss says:

The conference is a follow up to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. The US walked out of that conference due to criticism of Israel and Zionism (and pressure over reparations for slavery also allegedly played a role). The State Department has said the US is boycotting the review conference for the same reasons. There was a concerted effort by Israel and the Israel lobby here in the US to pressure the US to boycott and they are wasting no time in celebrating the victory.

And no wonder, the final Durban I document was 61 solid pages of ranting against Israel, invective-filled hate, epithets, vile denunciations, plans for Muslim world domination ….Oh wait, oops, I was reading a right-wing press release!

Actually, out of 61 solid pages on racism and discrimination, these are the 6 relevant paragraphs that refer in some way to Israel and Jews (updated):

58. We recall that the Holocaust must never be forgotten; 

61. We recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities; 

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;

64. We call for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region in which all peoples shall co-exist and enjoy equality, justice and internationally recognized human rights, and security; 

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;

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; 

Seriously.

Moshe Yaroni makes the point that justifying the US boycott on Durban II’s endorsement of these words is absurd. (The atmosphere of Durban I, he stresses, is a different question.) On the other hand, a conference where Iran’s Ahmadinejad, yes, Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak on Holocaust Remembrance Day  “bodes very ill.” No kidding. (Apparently unaware of their own shameful human rights record, in keeping with Ahmadinejad’s provocations, a government-sanctioned Iranian group tried to hand out vile anti-Israel propaganda today. Organizers of the NGO parallel forum turned them away.)

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Jewish solidarity group urges Canadian gov’t to reverse decision to boycott Durban Review Conference

We wrote earlier about some of the controversy over the upcoming follow-up to the UN conference on racism, otherwise known as Durban II. Canada, the US and Israel have said they will likely boycott the event in Switzerland this Spring.

Earlier today, Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices’ Coordinator Diana Ralph spoke at the Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference (Durban II) to advocate for Canadian participation:

“Unfortunately, there has a systematic attempt to portray Durban I was an ‘anti-Semitic hate-fest’,” Ralph pointed out. “This stems from the fact that at Durban some NGO participants and governments challenged Israel’s racist policies. Instead of addressing the substance of these charges, the government of Israel and those who back it unconditionally chose to brand those who levelled criticism of Israel at Durban as ‘anti-Semitic’,” she noted.

“As Jews, we assert that it is entirely legitimate, not anti-Semitic, to criticize Israeli policies that discriminate against Palestinians – not to mention occupying, torturing, assassinating, and collectively punishing them. Those who have been so critical of the Review appear intent upon discrediting criticism of racist Israeli policies and practices – and to prevent the governments of the US, Canada, and EU countries from being pressured to redress historic and ongoing racist practices,” Ralph continued.

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