Bracing for Durban III

The anti-Israel crowd’s "one-two punch" at the UN.

Yet another anti-Israel hate-fest is brewing today at the United Nations (UN) in New York City. Durban III is the informal name given to the latest UN-sponsored “anti-racism” conference, which will take place on the opening day of the General Assembly. More importantly and not unintentionally, this event, known for its hate-based, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bashing in its two previous incarnations, Durban I and Durban II, is coinciding with the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood and membership at the world body.

Anne Bayefsky, a human rights lawyer described as “the principal organizer” of an anti-Durban III conference taking place on the same day in New York, says the Durban anti-racism initiative and the Palestinian statehood bid go “hand-in-hand.” She called them the “one-two” punch at the UN of those who want to delegitimize Israel.

“It is, therefore, imperative to point out that Durban and UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) are part and parcel of the rejection of the Jewish state; the racists are masquerading as anti-racists; and the organization that is supposed to protect human rights is run by those who oppose human rights,” said Bayefsky.

Durban I took place ten years ago under UN auspices in Durban, South Africa, from which the conference got its name. Its actual title was the World Conference Against Racism, but it ironically turned into an appalling display of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic hatred. In the draft text prepared for the conference, for example, Zionism was compared to racism. Such blatant intolerance resulted not only in Israel withdrawing its delegation but also in the discrediting of the conference’s admirable, proclaimed goals of combating racism and discrimination worldwide.

“A sizeable number of Durban I conference participants openly championed Hitler’s destruction of European Jewry, and sought to modernize and extend his lethal anti-Semitism to Israel,” wrote Benjamin Weinthal of Durban I in the Jerusalem Post.

This “lethal anti-Semitism” was also on full display outside the conference, and sometimes violently so. At a separate NGO forum in Durban, attended by about 3,000 NGOs, a document was adopted that described Israel as a “racist, apartheid state” and stated that Israel was guilty of “racist crimes.” An Arab Lawyers’ Union booklet distributed in Durban contained anti-Semitic cartoons, whose offensiveness caused UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson to identify with the Jews.

Outside the forum, “out–of-control NGO mobs” staged several anti-Semitic incidents. One forced the closing of the Durban Jewish Community Center, where Jewish NGOs were meeting, and another saw the Jewish NGOs’ press conference disrupted.

“[The mobs] required Jewish representatives from all over the world to flee the final session with a police escort because their safety could not be guaranteed if they remained,” wrote Bayefsky.

Durban II wasn’t much better. Considering that Muammer Gaddafi’s Libya was the chair of the conference’s planning committee and communist Cuba was the deputy chair, this is not surprising. Officially called the Durban Review Conference, it took place in Geneva in 2009. The conference’s ostensible purpose was to review the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), adopted at Durban I. The DDPA is a watered-down version of the Durban I draft text that caused so much controversy.

Durban II also turned into the expected anti-Israeli hate-fest, but was notable for two things. The first was the appearance at this “human rights” conference of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who in the past had denied the Jewish Holocaust and called for Israel’s destruction. Ahmadinejad gave what French officials called a “hate speech,” in which he said the Israeli government was “totally racist.”

The other notable event at Durban II was the boycotts. Canada was the first of nine countries that decided to stay away altogether from the Geneva follow-up to Durban I. The United States also did not send a delegation. In defending his government’s decision not to attend, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of his country’s Conservative Party, said the conference would only “scapegoat the Jewish people.” A Conservative government minister later said the fact that Libya and Iran were on the Durban II organizing committee “was all we needed to know."

A partial boycott occurred inside the conference room itself. Delegates “from at least thirty countries” got up and left in protest soon after Ahmadinejad began his speech. True to form, Ahmadinejad later called the controversy “a Zionist plot.” Arriving back at Tehran’s airport, he probably had his spirits lifted, though, when he heard the “Death To Israel” chants of those on hand to greet him.

Canada again led the way in boycotting Durban III, whose purpose is to commemorate the adoption of the DDPA ten years ago. Last November, the Harper government was the first to say it would not send a delegation and added it would like to see the Durban process dropped altogether. Jason Kenny, a Conservative cabinet minister, said last June the conferences were “basically irredeemable” and only served as a “sick joke and sullies the reputation of the UN.”

“Navi Pillay [the UN high commissioner for human rights in charge of the Durban conferences] and her crew should stop the process and realize that the poison at Durban I has placed the entire process under a permanent cloud,” Kenny said. “A conference that gives a platform to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to advocate genocide is a sick joke.”

Fourteen other countries, including the United States, have followed suit so far and also will not participate in New York, since they are now aware that the Durban conferences are about attacking Israel and not about human rights. Most of the boycotters are Western democracies. Anne Bayefsky notes that all three Western countries on the UN’s Security Council -- France, Great Britain and the United States -- will also boycott Durban III, calling it “a historic step of tremendous importance."

“The Palestinians – and Yasser Arafat in particular - were behind Durban I and its message,” Bayefsky said. “This is a major defeat of their message of rejectionism and a refutation that anti-Semitism is a legitimate political tool period.”

At Bayefsky's anti-Durban conference, Mike Huckabee and the Bush administration’s UN ambassador, John Bolton, are expected to address the event’s participants. Unlike the Durban III conference over at the UN, at the anti-Durban event, one will not have to experience the height of absurdity in the form of lectures on human rights from some of their most preeminent abusers.

With this defeat of rejectionism and the growing irrelevance of the Durban conferences among the world’s most advanced nations, one would expect the Durban hate-fests to soon be consigned to the dustbin of history. But the hatred for the Jewish state and its main supporter, America, runs so deep and is so sinister, there is little hope of that, especially with the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference extending its influence in the UN.

So with more Durban conferences sure to follow New York’s, their opponents should shift the focus to the participants’, especially the OIC states', human rights records, pointing out the rampant racism in Muslim countries. A logical starting point would be the 300,000 black Africans killed in Darfur, and the 500,000 black Africans still enslaved in Mauritania. By doing so, the world’s real racism problems can then begin to be revealed, as well as the world’s true racists.