Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Durban Planning

Anne Bayefsky--a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and editor of President-Elect Obama some advice on the Durban II Conference in April:
Last Thursday, in a full-page ad in the Washington Times, a group of influential observers — including Alan Dershowitz, Victor Davis Hanson, Bernard Lewis, Martin Peretz, and Elie Wiesel — urged Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to announce that the United States will not attend the U.N.’s forthcoming “anti-racism” conference known as Durban II. The conference, the ad said, far from combating racism, will fuel hatred of Israel and encourage anti-Semitism. Israel itself will not be in attendance, and foreign minister Tzipi Livni has called for American support.

Meanwhile, the congressional black caucus and human-rights groups around the country are urging Obama to attend and legitimize Durban II, which will take place in Geneva in April 2009. A decision is expected shortly, and in making it, Obama would do well to remember the moral leadership Democrats have shown in facing down U.N.-driven hatred of Israel in the past.
While we wait to see what kind of stand Obama will take, a threat to boycott Durban II has come from an unexpected source:
The Dutch foreign minister threatened Tuesday to boycott a UN racism conference if anti-Israel statements are not scrapped from draft texts being drawn up for the meeting.

Maxime Verhagen told Dutch radio he "will not be involved in anti-Semitism" at the April meeting in Geneva.

Israel and Canada already have withdrawn. The United States has protested the conference, but has not decided if it will attend.

"It seems like the sole intention is to criticize Israel and condemn the West for slavery and its colonial history," Verhagen said.
David Hazony (Contentions) notes why the Netherlands boycotting the Durban II Conference would matter:
A Dutch refusal would carry important symbolic weight: The Hague hosts the International Criminal Court and the World Court. But a threat is often the opposite of an action, so for the time being, we’ll have to wait for the Hague’s final decision. Oh yes, and for Washington’s as well.
Bayefsky notes that one of the stated objectives is “to foster the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.”
That Declaration, adopted after the U.S. and Israel made their opposition plain, claims that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism. This claim is the only country-specific accusation in a document that purports to address racism and xenophobia around the world.
What makes the anti-Semitic nature of the first conference more vile is the fact that it was not the racism of a few non-governmental forums at Durban I that set the tone for the final Declararation:
Sitting in the back of the drafting committee of the Durban I governmental conference, I watched the deletion of virtually every paragraph on anti-Semitism — carefully prepared provisions articulating a range of steps to combat this scourge. Then the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference struck a deal: The EU gained a mention of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, in exchange for allowing a condemnation of racist Israel.
Last time, President Bush had the US delegation at Durban walk out midway through the conference.
What will Obama do?

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