Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Can't The US Talk Straight About Durban II (Updated)

There is no escape from Durban II — at least with our vital principles intact.
Anne Bayefsky
Anne Bayefsky has noted that what the US has been saying about its participation in Durban II does not correlate well with the reality:
On Monday, President Obama's decision to wander into the Durban II sinkhole also raised concerns in the Jewish community. In deciding to attend the planning session, Obama had ignored the direct plea from Israel's Foreign Minister to stay away, along with Israel and Canada. Instead, on Monday the President sent reassuring messages via phone calls from senior White House and State Department officials.

According to reports, these officials claimed "that Washington's decision to participate in the conference was being coordinated with the Israeli government." That would be true — if "coordination" meant announcing hours in advance that the United States intended to do the opposite of what had been requested.

Jewish leaders were also told that the U.S. presence was "an effort to change the direction of the conference." Apparently, someone in the administration forgot to read the map. The conference objectives have already been unanimously agreed to by all participants, including the European Union. Objective number one is to "foster the implementation of the Durban Declaration" — the same one that claims Israelis are racists, in fact, the only racists U.N. member states could recall. Those directions aren't going to be changed. On the contrary, the opening words of the Durban II document — also already accepted by consensus — read "reaffirming the Durban Declaration." Change you can't believe in, again. [emphasis added]
In her article for Forbes, Bayesky finds more obfuscation:

The Obama administration's decision to join the planning of the U.N.'s Durban II "anti-racism" conference has just taken a new twist: cover-up. On Friday, State Department officials and a member of the American Durban II delegation claimed the United States had worked actively to oppose efforts to brand Israel as racist in the committee drafting a Durban II declaration. The trouble is that they didn't.

The Feb. 20 State Department press release says the U.S. delegation in Geneva "outline[d] our concerns with the current outcome document" and in particular "our strong reservations about the direction of the conference, as the draft document singles out Israel for criticism." One member of the delegation told The Washington Post: "The administration is pushing back against efforts to brand Israel as racist in this conference." In fact, tucked away in a Geneva hall with few observers, the U.S. had done just the opposite. The U.S. delegates had made no objection to a new proposal to nail Israel in an anti-racism manifesto that makes no other country-specific claims.

Here is an example of the US putting its foot down at the Durban conference--if this is typical of what the US is doing there, both Israel and the US are in big trouble:

Here is how the American delegates responded to a proposal they understood was incompatible with U.S. interests (“Brackets” denote withholding approval at any given moment in time.): “I hate to be the cause of unhappiness in the room . . . I have to suggest this phrase remains in brackets and I offer my sincere apologies.” [emphasis added]
Oh, brother...we are in for a bad case of Durban Renewal.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, not everyone is following the US example:
Britain and Italy could join Canada and Israel in refusing to attend the Durban II Review Conference in April unless they receive cast-iron guarantees that it will not turn into an antisemitic, anti-Israel arena of hate.
--And The US itself still fails to inspire confidence at Durban II:
In the last week, the Palestinians tried to introduce language into the document regarding the 2004 advisory ruling by the International Court of Justice at The Hague against the security barrier, said Leshno Yaar.

The Americans were present but did not appear to have made improvement in the document, which he said "is getting worse every day."
The current outlook for Durban II is bleak:
"As far as we believe, Durban II is going to be the anti-Semitic event of 2009," said Amos Hermon, the head of the task force. "It looks worse than we expected, even though it's not yet clear what the end result will be."

The meeting also broached the possibility of demonstrations, the use of Holocaust imagery to draw comparisons between Israel's recent military strike in Gaza and the systematic murder of millions during World War II and an all-out "hate-fest" on behalf of anti-Israel NGO's present at the conference.
If US participation is supposed to prevent this sort of exploitation, now would be a good time to prove it.

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