Commentary and Newsletters

Caroline Glick, Melanie Phillips and Anne Bayefsky

Durban II Alert - A Response to David Harris (AJC), Part 2

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Jerusalem Post, March 19, 2009

It is interesting that David Harris has chosen to respond to the substantive points we made about the risks of engaging in 'Durban II' by descending to personal attacks. [David Harris blog, "A Reply to the Trio", March 18, 2009] Apparently, he still does not grasp the nature and seriousness of our criticism, which he characterises as "petty."

Rather than trying to fathom AJC's intentions, our assertion was that the AJC's participation in the Durban II preparatory meeting was a serious error of judgement which validated a process intrinsically and incorrigibly inimical to Israel's interests. Indeed, our concerns have been borne out this week in Geneva. Negotiators have produced a sanitized text that still reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration which singled out Israel for demonization. The move makes it more likely the world will accept a document that further legitimizes the Durban Declaration and delegitimizes Israel. And recognizing this fact, on Wednesday, Israel's Foreign Ministry instructed all Israeli emissaries abroad to continue to strive to convince foreign governments to stay away from the Durban II conference.

The simple fact remains that the Obama administration was asked not to participate in Durban II by two Israeli cabinet ministers and decided to do the opposite - with an AJC member on their team. Harris's suggestion that it was US participation in Durban II planning that led to the withdrawal of the US from Durban II planning is nonsensical, to say the least. The only reason the team withdrew a few days after it went in was the public outcry at the administration having become party to a process Americans had rightly rejected seven and a half years ago. And only the growing calls for a boycott by democratic states have made any impact on negotiators - who kept provisions questioning the veracity of the Holocaust on the table until March 16, 2009. Moreover, the ambiguous nature of the US withdrawal has created confusion and disarray amongst other nations which otherwise would have by now shunned this whole disreputable process.

We need no lessons in the importance of the Israel-US relationship. But there are a number of disturbing signs - of which the US presence at Geneva was a very public example - that the Obama administration may very well not have Israel's interests at heart and indeed appears willing to override them in pursuit of its agenda of reaching out to the Islamic world. The idea that by participating in Durban II - against Israel's wishes - the AJC has helped to mellow the administration's mindset on the Middle East is frankly as arrogant as it is risible.

It is unfortunate that David Harris has chosen to respond to substantive criticisms of AJC's actions with ad feminam attacks against his critics. Perhaps this is a function of the weakness of the AJC's case that joining Durban II and the UN Human Rights Council is in the best interests of the Jewish people. In our view, however, such AJC "nongovernmental diplomacy" or US governmental "engagement" is dangerous and, indeed, needs to be confronted on the merits straight on. When Israel's interests are placed in jeopardy, it is the duty of Jews to say so.