Update – 23 February 2009

Dear All,

In late November of last year I wrote to you about an upcoming anti-racism conference dubbed “Durban II” being held under the auspices of the UN which many in the community are very concerned about.

For those who are unaware, in early September 2001 a conference was held entitled “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” in Durban, South Africa. Despite the title, the conference and its parallel NGO forums seemed to focus mainly on Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and a call to re-establish a resolution equating Zionism with racism. The United States and Israel both walked out of the conference. A week later, the tragic events of 9/11 unfolded in the United States and the conference temporarily faded from many people’s memories.

Despite all of the failures of the 2001 conference, a second version – “Durban II” – is to be held on 20-24 April 2009 in Geneva Switzerland and, not surprisingly, a Draft Outcome Document, in which not one country is named or singled out with the exception of Israel, has been released by the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee. To understand the nature of the “Israeli-friendly” countries sitting on this committee; at the first meeting Libya was voted to be the chair and vice chairs are from Iran, Pakistan, South Africa and Cuba, just to name  a few.

Following the release of this document, Israel announced it will not be attending, declaring that 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”. Canada has also pulled out of the conference.

At this stage, the United States and Australia are still planning on attending. Under the Bush Administration the United States had refused to take part in the planning of the conference, but the Obama Administration pledged last week to change tack. Gordon Duguid, a US State Department spokesman stated, “if you are not engaged, you don’t have a voice… we wanted to put forward our view and see if there is some way we can make the document a better document than it appears it is going to be” (see more).

Nevertheless, it would appear that the US is struggling to make any significant changes to the document and as a result, American delegates may advise President Obama to boycott the conference. Apparently the promotion of Israel as the globe’s only racist country is not the only sticking point for the US. Sources say there is a proposal for American compensation for slavery and the delegates would like to change the wording of it so that it acknowledges that slavery has been annulled and African-Americans now have full equality (see more).

The Preparatory Committee has also earmarked the idea of a global blasphemy code that would ‘legitimize arbitrary restrictions of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the freedoms of expression and opinion, all in the name of protecting religions from “defamation” and “blasphemy” (see more).

As I mentioned last time, despite the plethora of attacks on Israel, Zionist and the Jews at Durban 1, there was no mention made there about racist incitement to hatred direct 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 whose Charter advocates the destruction of Israel and the genocide of Jews everywhere. It is unlikely that Durban 2 will see any changes in this regard. Considering the countless injustices that have occurred all over the world since Durban 1, one would think that there was a lot more to discuss than simply turning the conference into a hate fest against Israel. 

There is a lot of information out there on Durban 2 and much to digest with the surrounding issues. On the most basic of all levels, the conference is opening on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) but the conference will not be making any sort of acknowledgement or ceremony dedicated to this day. Quite bizarre that a conference against racism refuses to acknowledge the murderous persecution and genocide of six million people purely because they belonged to a particular ethnic group.

The Zionist Council of Victoria will keep you informed all on all the latest information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please visit Preparing for Durban II from UN Watch, Durban Watch from Eye on the UN and Durban Review 2009 from NGO Monitor.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507