Sunday, January 27, 2008

Durban II - Canada fights racism not Jews

I've pinched the piece below from Engage. I'm glad to see that Canada are taking a principled stand against the likely agenda of the UN's second world conference against racism, after the first conference in 2001 degenerated into a racist conference against Jews. (@ Rory Shiner - thanks for being a (rare) evangelical who takes antisemitism seriously - but it is inaccurate to argue that antisemitism re-emerged after 9/11 - it was alive and well beforehand. 9/11 in fact overshadowed the sickening antisemitism evident at Durban.) Sadly, but predictably, the British evangelical anti-Zionist Stephen Sizer approvingly cites the Durban 2001 conference in his writings, without any qualifying comment or context whatsoever.

The second UN World Conference Against Racism (Durban II), to take place in 2009, is currently in the planning stage. Despite being organised under the auspices of the reassuringly-titled UN Human Rights Council (which just kicked off the new year with another special session on Israel), the planning committee instils doubt - Iran somehow has a seat and Libya is Chair. Both are members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference which has been telling its members to suspend ties with Israel for several years. It was in this climate of heightening opposition to Israel that the NGO Forum at Durban I, which dragged itself to a close on September 8th 2001, nearly succeeded in writing racism against Jews out of its official anti-racist statement.

With these things in mind Canada has decided not to attend Durban II,
Khabrein reports:

Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenny Wednesday said Canada would have nothing to do with such a conference that last time ended up promoting racism and intolerance.

"We'll attend any conference that is opposed to racism and intolerance, not those that actually promote racism and intolerance," he told the Canadian press.
Calling the 2001 gathering "a circus of intolerance", Kenney said: "Our considered judgement, having participated in the preparatory meetings, was that we were set for a replay of Durban I. And Canada has no intention of lending its good name and resources to such a systematic promotion of hatred and bigotry."
Indeed, Durban I marks the intensification of anti-Israel activity in Britain. It was hijacked by activists who attempted to use the occupation of Palestinian land as a pretext for excluding antisemitism from recognition as a form of racism. They pressed for a statement that Israel was a 'racist apartheid' state while simultaneously references to antisemitism - anti-Jewish racism - were removed from the statement. Salon reported at the time that the anti-Israel activity was planned and concerted. Predictably, those activists attracted, or included, the kind of people who distribute leaflets saying that 'Hitler should have finished the job' and shout things like "Kill Jews".

The conference ran on for a day after it was scheduled to end and the statement was eventually amended after a majority voted to remove the references to Israel as racist and apartheid from the NGO statement. Self-styled anti-racists with phoney exceptionalist values consider this turn-around to have been the result of Zionist pressure. In fact it was due to the stand taken by appalled genuine anti-racists to preserve recognition that hatred of Jews exists as a form of racism which predates Israel, exists independently of Israel and cannot - classic bit of victim blame - be laid at the door of Israeli policy.

Israel has been called a racist state by the UN before, for 16 years in 1975. The General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, sponsored by 25 states who stated that “the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being” and “determin[ing] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. It was revoked in 1991 with miniscule motion 46/86.

Above all Zionism is a response by people of different ethnicities and religions to anti-Jewish racism. Defining Zionism as racism in a so-called anti-racist statement which simultaneously denies reference to antisemitism was ludicrous, appalling and impossible to misunderstand. Nothing has changed in the intervening period.

This is why Canada has made an early assessment that Durban II is probably not going to be worth attending. The question is whether anti-Israel activists are really prepared to squander an opportunity to unite member states in opposition to racism everywhere - Darfur, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Israel and many other countries where racism needs urgent attention - for the sake of trying to destroy the world's only Jewish country.

Background in the
Jerusalem Post; more from the Associated Press

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