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;Â
61. We recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism and IslamophobiaÂ in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based onÂ racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities;Â
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 allÂ peoples shall co-exist and enjoy equality, justice and internationally recognized human rights,Â and security;Â
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, respectÂ 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 swiftÂ resumption of negotiations, respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, respectÂ for the principle of self-determination and the end of all suffering, thus allowing Israel and theÂ Palestinians to resume the peace process, and to develop and prosper in security and freedom;Â
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 DayÂ “bodes very ill.” No kidding. (Apparently unaware of their own shameful human rights record, in keeping with Ahmadinejadâ€™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.)