15 February 2009

15 February 2008 - Obama administration to help plan Durban II

Via the Jerusalem Post comes the most unwelcome news that the Obama administration is going to help plan the Durban II conference--the follow-up to the disastrous World Conference Against Racism in August-September 2001 in South Africa, which became an antisemitic hate carnival and launched the worldwide movement to equate Israel with apartheid.

This is a very bad decision and suggests astonishing naivété. It is far too late for the Obama administration to make a difference. The conference's draft declaration already includes references to "apartheid Israel" and anti-Israel regimes are trying to make things even worse. As Anne Bayefsky reports:

Negotiators have now put on the table claims that (1) a homeland for the Jewish people is racism - a "racially based law of return," (2) Israel is guilty of "apartheid" and (3) the veracity of the murder of one-third of the Jewish people during the Holocaust is subject to question. A reference to Holocaust facts has now been "square-bracketed" because Iran and Syria have questioned the numbers of Jews that died and consensus is the only guiding principle governing the decision-making process.


Read the document itself, and see just how bad it really is: linking discussion of the Holocaust to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, condemning Israel for "racial discrimination" against Palestinians and Syrian residents of the Golan (!), insisting on the Palestinian right of return, referring to the security barrier as the "segregation wall," etc. (more below).

The Obama administration will give such ideas legitimacy by haggling over them. There is no way to save Durban II, and the only conscionable reaction must be to boycott it, as Canada has already decided to do (along with Israel). Apparently the White House wants to have it both ways--to participate in talks without necessarily endorsing the final conclusions--but the Bush administration made the same mistake in 2001.

At some point, no matter how sincerely the U.S. tries to show the rest of the world its friendship, at some point a line must be drawn and evil must be recognized for what it is. I sincerely hope that the leaders of the American Jewish community, as well as American civil rights and human rights organizations, are going to speak out against this decision and prevent Obama from wasting his credibility on this hatred.

The relevant section of the draft document:

(Holocaust) [proposal to change title]

29. [Affirms that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with numerous members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice; recalls again that the Holocaust must never be forgotten;]

ALT: Recalls that the Holocaust must never be forgotten;

[NEW PARA: Recalls and urges States to implement United Nations General Assembly resolutions 60/7 and 61/255 which observed that remembrance of the Holocaust is critical to prevent further acts of genocide, condemned without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urged all Member States to reject denial of the Holocaust as a historical event either in full or in part or in any activities to this end;] [proposal to move to section 5]

[(Middle East)] [proposal to delete cluster]

30. [Expresses deep concern at the practices of racial discrimination against the Palestinian people as well as [Syrian nationals of the occupied Syrian Golan] [other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories] which have an impact on all aspects of their daily existence and prevent the enjoyment of fundamental rights, and renews the call for the cessation of all such practices;]

31. [Reiterates that the Palestinian people have the inalienable right to self determination and that, in order to consolidate the [Israeli] occupation, they have been subjected to unlawful collective punishment, torture, economic blockade, severe restriction of movement and arbitrary closure of their territories. Also notes [with concern] that illegal settlements continue to be built in the occupied [Arab] territories [since 1967];]

32. [Reaffirms that a foreign occupation founded on settlements, laws based on racial discrimination with the aim of continuing domination of the occupied territory[y][ies], as well as the practice of reinforcing a total military blockade, isolating towns, villages and cities from one another, [totally] contradicts the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations [and constitutes a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, a crime against humanity, a contemporary form of apartheid and serious threat to international peace and security] [and violates the basic principles of international human rights law];]

[NEW PARA: Expresses deep concern at the plight of Palestinian refugees and other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories as well as displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes because of war and racial policies of the occupying power and who are prevented from returning to their homes and properties because of a racially-based law of return. It recognizes the right of return of Palestinian refugees as established by the General Assembly in its resolutions, particularly resolution 194 of 11 December 1948, and calls for the return to their homeland in accordance with and in implementation of this right;]

33. [Reiterates deep concern about the plight of the Palestinian people [as well as inhabitants of the other occupied territories] under foreign occupation, [including the obstruction of the return of refugees and displaced persons, and the construction of the segregation wall,] and urges respect for international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, and calls for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region;]

34. [Re-emphasizes the responsibility of the international community to provide international protection, in particular from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, for [Palestinian] civilian populations under occupation in conformity with international human rights law and international humanitarian law;]
[Proposal to include reference to Gaza situation – language to be provided]

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