Durban Watch

Durban II

EYEontheUN ALERT - November 26, 2008

European Union Capitulates to Islamic States on Durban II as UN General Assembly Committee Renews Support for the Conference and Calls for Additional Funding
The American Jewish Committee and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Refuse to Demand a U.S. Boycott; Israel's Plea for Immediate Boycott Support Ignored

NEW YORK - The UN General Assembly's Third Committee on Social and Humanitarian Affairs threw renewed support behind the Durban II Conference. Last year, the European Union voted against the Durban II resolution. This year they capitulated to the pressure of Islamic states and their allies.

The vote on the Resolution (orally amended, para. 55 deleted) was 130 votes in favor, 11 votes against and 35 abstentions. In 2007 the vote was 119 votes in favor, 45 against and 6 abstentions. The main change was the collapse of the EU.

The statement made by France on behalf of the EU, explaining why they abstained (instead of voting in favor), made no mention of any concern with the treatment of Israel in the draft outcome document now on the negotiating table. That document claims Israel is guilty of apartheid and genocide. It also manages to label only Israel as racist, while saying nothing about racism among the other 191 UN states.

The eleven states voting against were: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Israel, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom and the United States. They alone were prepared to stand up to the intimidation and to recognize Durban II as an assault on human rights on a host of issues ranging from Israel to freedom of expression.

The resolution also calls for $3,754,800 to be spent from the 2008-09 budget on Durban II, in addition to the millions already spent.

The representative of Israel, Meirav Eilon Shahar urged other states to follow Israel's decision to boycott Durban II, as a matter of principle. In her words: "Foreign Minister [Livni] announced last week that Israel will not participate in another carnival of hatred and we similarly call on the international community not to legitimize the conference which seeks to legitimize intolerance and extremism under the banner of the fight against racism."

Other than Canada, Livni's plea for ending the evident demonization of Israel promoted with this powerful instrument, has fallen on deaf ears. In the United States, the American Jewish Committee and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has refused to call for an immediate boycott. The EU's capitulation is a repudiation of their strategy of reliance on France to show serious leadership on Durban II while holding the EU Presidency. The failure of these organizations to support Israel's efforts to delegitimize this Israel-bashing forum, by issuing an unambiguous call for an immediate U.S. boycott, will most likely result in U.S. participation.