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Thursday, March 19, 2009

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

Caroline Glick, Melanie Phillips and Anne Bayefsky

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.

March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in Forbes.

Under the growing threat of a boycott by the United States and European countries, negotiators planning the U.N.'s Durban II "anti-racism" conference made a new move in Geneva today. They released a modified version of a draft declaration that is expected to be adopted at the April melée. The draft jettisons much of the extra baggage Islamic states had piled on throughout the 10-month drafting process (for the sole purpose of "compromising" at the end). The improvements, however, do not meet the minimal conditions that the Obama administration delineated for U.S. participation. It is time to end the equivocation and get out.

Durban II represents a global showdown on the ideological battlefield between Democrats and anti-Democrats, between tolerance and intolerance. For years, the worst abusers of human rights have commandeered U.N. vehicles to trample rights and freedoms. Given the close relationship between spewing hatred and reaping violence--which the first Durban Declaration adopted on Sept. 8, 2001, made abundantly clear--the stakes are high.

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration set out four conditions for U.S. participation in Durban II. The new version of the Durban II declaration must be: "shorter," "not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration," "not single out any one country or conflict" and "not embrace the troubling concept of "defamation of religion." On some of these counts, the document makes substantial changes. It is somewhat shorter, removes grotesque allegations like calling Israel an apartheid state and deletes the words "defamation of religions."

But most important, it refuses to disavow the 2001 Declaration. On the contrary, it "Reaffirms the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) as it was adopted at the World Conference against Racism ... in 2001." That declaration says Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism--with Israel the only U.N. state found guilty of racism. And though today's draft divides provisions into the negotiable and non-negotiable, it announces that reaffirming Durban I is text which does not "remain to be negotiated."

This "new and improved" document, therefore, breaches President Obama's key conditions. It "reaffirms in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration." In so doing, it does not satisfy the demand that no country or conflict be singled out. Unsurprisingly, behind the scenes, Palestinian negotiators in Geneva are expressing satisfaction with today's result.

For Americans, to reaffirm the Durban Declaration is to affirm precisely what our government rejected on Sept. 4, 2001, when the United States--led by Congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos--walked out from Durban I in disgust.

The new draft is a textbook example of diplomatic double-talk. Diplomats often couch objectionable outcomes in superficially unobjectionable language, using a tool that lawyers call "incorporation by reference." Don't repeat the offensive words in the new document; just include them by referring to another document where they can be found--and which most people won't bother to read.

In plain language, here is exactly what it means to reaffirm the DDPA and its claim that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism.

For one, reaffirming the Durban document will set the priorities of the U.N. human rights system. As U.N. High Commissioner Navi Pillay--who is also the Secretary-General of Durban II--proclaimed earlier this month: "The focus on victims is the cornerstone of OHCHR's [Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights] work. The office pays particular attention to the protection of the groups of victims identified in the DDPA." Among them, of course, the alleged victims of the diabolical Israeli state.

Second, Durban I went forth and multiplied. The DDPA spawned: the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the DDPA, the Independent Eminent Experts Group, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards and the Preparatory Committee of the Durban Review Conference and its working groups. In addition, U.N. High Commissioner Pillay has promised: "I will take the lead in encouraging mainstreaming of the implementation of the DDPA in the work of all relevant United Nations entities." In this case, mainstreaming is a U.N. euphemism for ensuring the cancer spreads to all parts of the body politic.

Driving the Durban committee dealing with "complementary standards" is the game plan of Islamic U.N. member states. They argue that existing standards on racial discrimination and related intolerance--which they ignore in practice--have normative gaps. What kind of gaps? Insufficient attention to the defamation of religions--Islam in particular.

There has been some push-back from other states on the concept of "defamation of religion," since Islamic governments would be both judge and jury on what counts as defamation. So this latest version of the Durban II declaration focuses on "incitement to hatred of religious communities." It "calls upon states ... to declare illegal and prohibit by law all organizations which ... attempt to justify or promote national, racial and religious hatred and discrimination in any form ..." It calls for more U.N. "workshops" on "the prohibition of incitement with a view to remedy any possible substantive or implementation gaps." It also insists that "any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination ... shall be prohibited by law ... and that these prohibitions are consistent with freedom of opinion and expression."

The United States has formal legal reservations to U.N. treaties that attempt to impose fewer limits on free speech than Durban II. Those reservations insist upon the primacy of stronger American constitutional protections. Signing on to anything looking like this Durban II declaration would therefore be inconsistent with American law.

Tuesday's development sent diplomats in Geneva scurrying off in different directions. The Netherlands decided to play hardball in the defense of democracy. The Dutch took the U.S. conditions seriously and publicly disseminated a complete alternative text two pages long in stark contrast to the U.N.'s 17-page draft. The Dutch draft is direct; it highlights in plain language that "freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our fight against racism;" it includes protection for discrimination against sexual orientation; and it does not reaffirm Durban I.

Some members of the EU were not pleased. The French and the Germans are insisting the European Union act with one voice and are intent on dragging the Dutch back into the fold. The Italians have gone silent after announcing last week they were going to boycott, apparently succumbing to demands for European unity. American state officials are busy drafting alternative texts behind the scenes despite the pretense of non-participation. NGOs are pressuring the Obama administration not to leave for any reason. The Australians have been apparently struck dumb until President Obama tells them what he'll do. The Palestinians are threatening to make the draft a lot worse if "reaffirming the Durban I Declaration" is removed. The secretary-general of the Conference Navi Pillay--a native of Durban who promised the mayor to rescue the city's good name--is helping Islamic states fight the forces that are serious about combating racism.

As for human rights? What does that have to do with anything? This is the U.N.

The Jerusalem Post, March 17, 2009

David Harris is an exemplary Jewish professional who is largely responsible for the American Jewish Committee becoming a major creative force throughout the global Jewish arena.

I am therefore saddened by his vitriolic public attack on Anne Bayefsky, Melanie Phillips and Caroline Glick for their well-founded criticism of the strategy adopted by his organization in relation to "Durban II" and the UN Human Rights Council.

The AJC adopted a flawed approach to this issue from the outset, insisting that that the American government and others should participate in the conference. Their attitude undermined efforts by bodies like "Eye on the UN" which invested massive efforts in creating a public awareness of the need for a boycott.

The AJC decision to accept the invitation to participate as a member of the US delegation in the Durban II preparatory committee to ascertain whether this obnoxious body would change its approach was an even greater blunder. They were irresponsible in encouraging the perception that a body totally controlled by the Islamic Conference and rogue states, and even chaired by Libya, with Iran and Cuba serving as deputy chairs, could possibly be anything other than an instrument for promoting evil.

To make matters worse the US delegation, including the AJC representative, actually sat on its hands during the proceedings of the preparatory committee while vicious demonizations of Israel took place. They even remained silent when Iran objected to a resolution condemning Holocaust denial.

For many of us, the jury is still out regarding the Obama administration's approach to Israel. But it would require burying one's head in the sand not to be disconcerted by the new policy of "engaging" tyrants and jihadists, not to mention some of the candidates recommended for government positions in recent weeks.

In this context we look to the American Jewish community, which overwhelmingly supported Obama, to endeavor to ensure that Israel is not sacrificed to enable the US to placate Arab extremists.

Hence the disappointment expressed by Anne Bayefsky, Melanie Phillips and Caroline Glick that the AJC agreed to participate in a US delegation to such a brazenly anti-Semitic body would be endorsed by most activists involved in this area.

One would have expected American Jewish leaders at the least to have also expressed concern when simultaneously with its announcement it would not partake in Durban, the US government proclaimed that it would in future participate in meetings of the Human Rights Council, and would even seek to be elected to the leadership of that despicable body. The US action will only legitimize an organization which represents the antithesis of its title, defends the worst regimes practicing the denial of human rights and now seeks to limit all criticism of Islamic behavior or practice. Alas, the AJC only two years ago was "urging the United States to seek membership on the UN Human Rights Council." It would appear that to this day Harris and the AJC fail to appreciate that organizations purporting to promote human rights which are controlled by tyrannies and dictatorships can never be reformed. They must be isolated and marginalized.

The US backed down on participating in Durban II for two reasons. The most important was the campaign spearheaded by Bayefsky exposing the disgusting behavior of those controlling the proceedings. The second was the stubbornness of the preparatory committee about even paying lip service to behaving decently and amending their draft document. The danger now is that they will come up with a shorter document which does not include the vile language, and the US hailing that as a victory and agreeing to participate in what will still be a massive anti-Semitic hate-fest controlled by the same villains.

David Harris is a devoted and capable leader with a track record of outstanding achievement for the Jewish people. He is not infallible, and erred in this matter. He should take one step backwards and resume his constructive work on behalf of the Jews. Instead of berating those with whom he should be working in tandem, Harris should be at the forefront of efforts to persuade the Obama administration that appeasing jihadists or providing them with legitimacy could have devastating repercussions on the future of the civilized world.

Under the growing threat of a boycott by the United States and European countries, negotiators planning the U.N.'s Durban II "anti-racism" conference made a new move in Geneva today. They released a modified version of a draft declaration that is expected to be adopted at the April melée. The draft jettisons much of the extra baggage Islamic states had piled on throughout the 10-month drafting process (for the sole purpose of "compromising" at the end). The improvements, however, do not meet the minimal conditions that the Obama administration delineated for U.S. participation. It is time to end the equivocation and get out.

Durban II represents a global showdown on the ideological battlefield between Democrats and anti-Democrats, between tolerance and intolerance. For years, the worst abusers of human rights have commandeered U.N. vehicles to trample rights and freedoms. Given the close relationship between spewing hatred and reaping violence--which the first Durban Declaration adopted on Sept. 8, 2001, made abundantly clear--the stakes are high.

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration set out four conditions for U.S. participation in Durban II. The new version of the Durban II declaration must be: "shorter," "not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration," "not single out any one country or conflict" and "not embrace the troubling concept of "defamation of religion." On some of these counts, the document makes substantial changes. It is somewhat shorter, removes grotesque allegations like calling Israel an apartheid state and deletes the words "defamation of religions."

But most important, it refuses to disavow the 2001 Declaration. On the contrary, it "Reaffirms the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) as it was adopted at the World Conference against Racism ... in 2001." That declaration says Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism--with Israel the only U.N. state found guilty of racism. And though today's draft divides provisions into the negotiable and non-negotiable, it announces that reaffirming Durban I is text which does not "remain to be negotiated."

This "new and improved" document, therefore, breaches President Obama's key conditions. It "reaffirms in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration." In so doing, it does not satisfy the demand that no country or conflict be singled out. Unsurprisingly, behind the scenes, Palestinian negotiators in Geneva are expressing satisfaction with today's result.

For Americans, to reaffirm the Durban Declaration is to affirm precisely what our government rejected on Sept. 4, 2001, when the United States--led by Congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos--walked out from Durban I in disgust.

The new draft is a textbook example of diplomatic double-talk. Diplomats often couch objectionable outcomes in superficially unobjectionable language, using a tool that lawyers call "incorporation by reference." Don't repeat the offensive words in the new document; just include them by referring to another document where they can be found--and which most people won't bother to read.

In plain language, here is exactly what it means to reaffirm the DDPA and its claim that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism.

For one, reaffirming the Durban document will set the priorities of the U.N. human rights system. As U.N. High Commissioner Navi Pillay--who is also the Secretary-General of Durban II--proclaimed earlier this month: "The focus on victims is the cornerstone of OHCHR's [Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights] work. The office pays particular attention to the protection of the groups of victims identified in the DDPA." Among them, of course, the alleged victims of the diabolical Israeli state.

Second, Durban I went forth and multiplied. The DDPA spawned: the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the DDPA, the Independent Eminent Experts Group, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards and the Preparatory Committee of the Durban Review Conference and its working groups. In addition, U.N. High Commissioner Pillay has promised: "I will take the lead in encouraging mainstreaming of the implementation of the DDPA in the work of all relevant United Nations entities." In this case, mainstreaming is a U.N. euphemism for ensuring the cancer spreads to all parts of the body politic.

Driving the Durban committee dealing with "complementary standards" is the game plan of Islamic U.N. member states. They argue that existing standards on racial discrimination and related intolerance--which they ignore in practice--have normative gaps. What kind of gaps? Insufficient attention to the defamation of religions--Islam in particular.

There has been some push-back from other states on the concept of "defamation of religion," since Islamic governments would be both judge and jury on what counts as defamation. So this latest version of the Durban II declaration focuses on "incitement to hatred of religious communities." It "calls upon states ... to declare illegal and prohibit by law all organizations which ... attempt to justify or promote national, racial and religious hatred and discrimination in any form ..." It calls for more U.N. "workshops" on "the prohibition of incitement with a view to remedy any possible substantive or implementation gaps." It also insists that "any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination ... shall be prohibited by law ... and that these prohibitions are consistent with freedom of opinion and expression."

The United States has formal legal reservations to U.N. treaties that attempt to impose fewer limits on free speech than Durban II. Those reservations insist upon the primacy of stronger American constitutional protections. Signing on to anything looking like this Durban II declaration would therefore be inconsistent with American law.

Tuesday's development sent diplomats in Geneva scurrying off in different directions. The Netherlands decided to play hardball in the defense of democracy. The Dutch took the U.S. conditions seriously and publicly disseminated a complete alternative text two pages long in stark contrast to the U.N.'s 17-page draft. The Dutch draft is direct; it highlights in plain language that "freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our fight against racism;" it includes protection for discrimination against sexual orientation; and it does not reaffirm Durban I.

Some members of the EU were not pleased. The French and the Germans are insisting the European Union act with one voice and are intent on dragging the Dutch back into the fold. The Italians have gone silent after announcing last week they were going to boycott, apparently succumbing to demands for European unity. American state officials are busy drafting alternative texts behind the scenes despite the pretense of non-participation. NGOs are pressuring the Obama administration not to leave for any reason. The Australians have been apparently struck dumb until President Obama tells them what he'll do. The Palestinians are threatening to make the draft a lot worse if "reaffirming the Durban I Declaration" is removed. The secretary-general of the Conference Navi Pillay--a native of Durban who promised the mayor to rescue the city's good name--is helping Islamic states fight the forces that are serious about combating racism.

As for human rights? What does that have to do with anything? This is the U.N.

This article originally appeared in Forbes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

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

Caroline Glick, Melanie Phillips and Anne Bayefsky

The Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2009

It stands to reason that that David Harris would be sensitive to criticism of the AJC's participation in planning "Durban II." [David Harris blog, "Durban Diplomacy", March 15, 2009] After all, by taking part in the Durban II planning process on a US government delegation, AJC contemptuously ignored repeated calls from­ Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Minister Isaac Herzog for the United States government to stay away and announce it will not participate, period. Israel's priority, and the priority of much of the American Jewish community was to delegitimize the hate-fest, not place an AJC representative on its planning committee.

The fact of the matter is that the only reason the US made a tactical retreat from the process was the pressure created by criticisms such as ours, along with protests made by Israel, Canada, and other American Jewish organizations and leaders.

For more than a year, the AJC has conducted an extensive lobbying campaign of the American government and of foreign governments to stay in Durban II.

On December 11, 2008 Harris told The Jerusalem Post: "We can't afford to declare Durban II lost without more focus on diplomacy." On January 12, 2009 the AJC's human rights arm, the Blaustein Institute, wrote to Secretary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice: "The Durban Review Conference provides an opportunity to review states' progress in the implementation of their commitments to combat racism made in 2001... While some organizations are calling for a US boycott, we believe that is the wrong decision at this time." As recently as February 22, 2009 Harris told the Post: "Our position on Durban II is clear. We have publicly praised France and the Netherlands, among other countries, for insisting on clear red lines and threatening to withdraw if they are breached."

If they are breached? The AJC's own UN monitoring body, UN Watch, reported the breach had occurred on October 28, 2008, in a report aptly called "Shattering the Red Lines: The Durban II Draft Declaration." Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations told the Post on December 11, 2008: "We clearly see that all the red lines that have been enumerated by the Europeans have been violated."

Under the guise of ever-shifting red lines (that in any incarnation Israel and the rest of the Jewish world understood were crossed long ago), AJC has caused great damage to Israel's diplomatic standing.

Contrary to much misinformation, the fact of the matter is that the Obama administration has not made a final decision about whether it will attend Durban II. Its recent departure from the planning sessions in Geneva left the door open for cosmetic changes to the text of the conference declaration that, if made, would allow its negotiators to claim a spurious victory.

The key point which Harris chooses to ignore is that the agreed objective of Durban II is to reaffirm and implement the 2001 Durban Declaration. That document singles out Israel for censure and says that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism. Consequently any attempted sanitizing of the latest text will be worthless, since by definition the new Declaration will re-affirm the 2001 singling out and demonization of Israel.

Then too, Harris's claim that the US's tactical withdrawal from the planning sessions will make other nations more likely to walk away from Durban II is both incorrect and misleading. The ambiguity of the US's current position has held back the Australians and the British from withdrawing since they do not want to be double-crossed by an Obama administration that eventually attends. Absent a clear American stand, the French and the Germans are putting enormous pressure on Italy and the Netherlands not to break ranks with the rest of the EU - which have no intention of leaving. Initial suggestions by both countries that they would not go are now in doubt.

Worse still, as a quid pro quo for its tactical retreat from Durban II, the US is on the verge of announcing that it will run for a seat (election is a foregone conclusion) on the UN Human Rights Council - a move strongly advocated by none other than the AJC's human rights institute. In the words of an AJC press release January 29, 2007: "The human rights arm of the American Jewish Committee is urging the United States to seek membership on the UN Human Rights Council." The Council has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 UN member states combined. By joining the UN Human Rights Council, the Obama administration will be legitimizing a body dedicated to the delegitimization of Israel.

It is shameful that the AJC has chosen to join this cynical and sinister process, whose outcome can only be to weaken Israel and strengthen her enemies. And it is outrageous that the AJC has sought to defend its participation in the process by attacking those who point out the consequences of its actions.

No one knows whether the Obama administration or other Western governments will finally stand their ground against pro-Durban, anti-Jewish and anti-democratic forces. What is certain, however, is that if the Obama administration, European countries or Australia do decide to stay out and the West thus finally says no to the substance of Durban I, it will be through the efforts of all those who have tried to delegitimize the process rather than those whose actions have effectively helped an unconscionable exercise come to fruition.

Caroline Glick Melanie Phillips Anne Bayefsky
Senior Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Post British Journalist and Author of Londonistan Touro College

The Fans of Durban II

Anne Bayefsky

Human rights authorities like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Russia, Yemen, the Arab Group, the African Group, Malaysia, Bahrain, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Venezuela and Senegal.

And now operating on behalf of Islamic states: the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She is the Secretary-General of the Durban II Conference. In her words: "The [Durban] Review Conference has also been the target of a disparaging media and a lobbying campaign on the part of those who fear a repetition of antisemitic outbursts. This, in my view, is completely unwarranted...Narrow, parochial interests and reflexive partisanship must be cast aside in the interest of a greater common good." (The "common good" as defined by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan...)



Watch video here.
Durban II Devotees

March 2, 3, 4 & 5, 2009: 10th Human Rights Council Session

It stands to reason that that David Harris would be sensitive to criticism of the AJC's participation in planning "Durban II." [David Harris blog, "Durban Diplomacy", March 15, 2009] After all, by taking part in the Durban II planning process on a US government delegation, AJC contemptuously ignored repeated calls from­ Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Minister Isaac Herzog for the United States government to stay away and announce it will not participate, period. Israel's priority, and the priority of much of the American Jewish community was to delegitimize the hate-fest, not place an AJC representative on its planning committee.

The fact of the matter is that the only reason the US made a tactical retreat from the process was the pressure created by criticisms such as ours, along with protests made by Israel, Canada, and other American Jewish organizations and leaders.

For more than a year, the AJC has conducted an extensive lobbying campaign of the American government and of foreign governments to stay in Durban II.

On December 11, 2008 Harris told The Jerusalem Post: "We can't afford to declare Durban II lost without more focus on diplomacy." On January 12, 2009 the AJC's human rights arm, the Blaustein Institute, wrote to Secretary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice: "The Durban Review Conference provides an opportunity to review states' progress in the implementation of their commitments to combat racism made in 2001... While some organizations are calling for a US boycott, we believe that is the wrong decision at this time." As recently as February 22, 2009 Harris told the Post: "Our position on Durban II is clear. We have publicly praised France and the Netherlands, among other countries, for insisting on clear red lines and threatening to withdraw if they are breached."

If they are breached? The AJC's own UN monitoring body, UN Watch, reported the breach had occurred on October 28, 2008, in a report aptly called "Shattering the Red Lines: The Durban II Draft Declaration." Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations told the Post on December 11, 2008: "We clearly see that all the red lines that have been enumerated by the Europeans have been violated."

Under the guise of ever-shifting red lines (that in any incarnation Israel and the rest of the Jewish world understood were crossed long ago), AJC has caused great damage to Israel's diplomatic standing.

Contrary to much misinformation, the fact of the matter is that the Obama administration has not made a final decision about whether it will attend Durban II. Its recent departure from the planning sessions in Geneva left the door open for cosmetic changes to the text of the conference declaration that, if made, would allow its negotiators to claim a spurious victory.

The key point which Harris chooses to ignore is that the agreed objective of Durban II is to reaffirm and implement the 2001 Durban Declaration. That document singles out Israel for censure and says that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism. Consequently any attempted sanitizing of the latest text will be worthless, since by definition the new Declaration will re-affirm the 2001 singling out and demonization of Israel.

Then too, Harris's claim that the US's tactical withdrawal from the planning sessions will make other nations more likely to walk away from Durban II is both incorrect and misleading. The ambiguity of the US's current position has held back the Australians and the British from withdrawing since they do not want to be double-crossed by an Obama administration that eventually attends. Absent a clear American stand, the French and the Germans are putting enormous pressure on Italy and the Netherlands not to break ranks with the rest of the EU - which have no intention of leaving. Initial suggestions by both countries that they would not go are now in doubt.

Worse still, as a quid pro quo for its tactical retreat from Durban II, the US is on the verge of announcing that it will run for a seat (election is a foregone conclusion) on the UN Human Rights Council - a move strongly advocated by none other than the AJC's human rights institute. In the words of an AJC press release January 29, 2007: "The human rights arm of the American Jewish Committee is urging the United States to seek membership on the UN Human Rights Council." The Council has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 UN member states combined. By joining the UN Human Rights Council, the Obama administration will be legitimizing a body dedicated to the delegitimization of Israel.

It is shameful that the AJC has chosen to join this cynical and sinister process, whose outcome can only be to weaken Israel and strengthen her enemies. And it is outrageous that the AJC has sought to defend its participation in the process by attacking those who point out the consequences of its actions.

No one knows whether the Obama administration or other Western governments will finally stand their ground against pro-Durban, anti-Jewish and anti-democratic forces. What is certain, however, is that if the Obama administration, European countries or Australia do decide to stay out and the West thus finally says no to the substance of Durban I, it will be through the efforts of all those who have tried to delegitimize the process rather than those whose actions have effectively helped an unconscionable exercise come to fruition.

Caroline Glick Melanie Phillips Anne Bayefsky
Senior Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Post British Journalist and Author of Londonistan Touro College and www.EYEontheUN.org


This article, by Caroline Glick, Melanie Phillips and Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in
The Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2009