Update – 21 November 2008

Dear Advocates, 

In early September 2001, under the auspices of the UN, a conference was held entitled “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” in Durban. Despite the title, the conference seemed to focus mainly on Israeli treatment of Palestinians and a call to re-establish a resolution equating Zionism with racism. The United States and Israel both walked out of the conference with Shimon Peres stating, “We regret very much the very bizarre show in Durban. An important convention that’s supposed to defend human rights became a source of hatred.” For more information please read ‘Israel, U.S. leave Durban; Peres dubs meet a ‘farce’’ from Haaretz and ‘Israel’s reaction to the conclusion of the UN Conference against Racism in Durban’ from MFA.

Despite all of the failures of the 2001 conference, another conference is going to be held, dubbed “Durban II” in Geneva, Switzerland in 2009. Controversy already surrounds the convention following the revelation that countries such as Iran and Libya will be on the Conference planning committee.

Israel had decided to hold off on a decision on whether they would be attending until they had been assured that the incitement from 2001 would not be repeated. However, following the release of the Draft Outcome Document, where no specific country is named or singled out except for Israel, they have announced that they will not be attending. According to a statement sent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the document “contains the same language of hate which undermined the first Durban Conference… [and] reproduces, almost word-by-word, the rhetoric of the Tehran Planning Meeting in 2001, a meeting which led to the Durban 1 farce”.

Despite the plethora of attacks on Israel, Zionism and the Jews at Durban 1, there was no mention made there about racist incitement to hatred directed at Israel and the Jewish people fostered in many Islamic and Arab countries and, in particular within the Palestinian media including that promoted by the Palestine Authority and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas. It is unlikely that Durban 2 will see any changes in this regard.

For more information, please read ‘Israel will not participate in the Durban 2 Conference’ from MFA and ‘Hateful Rhetoric Risks Derailing UN’s “Durban II” Racism Conference’ from UN Watch.

Considering all that has happened in the world since Durban I, starting with the 9/11 attacks just three days after the conclusion of the conference and countless injustices all over the world, one would think that there was a lot more to discuss than simply turning the conference into a hate fest against Israel.

I came across an article in the Jerusalem Post today entitled ‘Nobel laureate: Suspend Israel from UN’ which reports on statements made by Mairead Maguire calling on the international community to take action against Israel. The article shows a picture of Maguire collecting a gift from Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh following her visit to Gaza aboard the “Free Gaza” boat last month.

Ms. Maguire, if you want to start suspending countries from the UN, let us start with Iran. Or Sudan. And how is it that someone who has won a peace prize for her work in Northern Ireland can, in good conscience, cosy up to people like Haniyeh, who heads an organisation whose written policies include the destruction of a neighbouring state and the murder in cold blood of a race of people (the Jews)?

In other news, campaigning is heating up in Israel in the lead up to the general election in February. Today’s Australian carried a story entitled ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud leads Tzipi Livni’s party’, while Jpost reports ‘Livni slams Likud as Kadima slides in polls’. Meanwhile, as polls predict that Labour will only win ten seats, a new leftist party has entered the fold claiming that ‘the expanded leftist movement will become a replacement for the Labour party”.

Israeli author Amos Oz is among 30 intellectuals and public figures that are supporting this new party modelled after Meretz. Please read ‘Feted author Amos Oz says new leftist party will replace Labour’ from Haaretz. Only time will tell if this new party will unite the left or divide the vote even more.

I always like to end my updates with some positive advocacy stories, and with all the negativity of today’s update I bring you three positive stories:
SACH team heads to China for surgical and training mission – Haaretz
Israeli and Indonesia emergency services to cooperate – Israel 21c
Israeli researchers pioneer laser treatment for sealing wounds – MFA

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507