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Resources updated between Monday, April 20, 2009 and Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Having handed a hatemonger a global megaphone, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay concluded the Durban II conference on Friday by calling it "a celebration of tolerance and dignity for all."

Everyone associated with Durban II knew well in advance that the conference was intimately connected with Iran. Iranian spokesmen had repeatedly highlighted the conference for over a year. In the recent preparatory meetings leading up to the conference, Iran was the single most vocal state, with many of its rights-limiting suggestions finding their way into the final declaration. Iran was a Vice-Chair of the executive planning committee for Durban II and was chosen as a Vice-President of the conference itself.

It was no surprise, therefore, that an Iranian Holocaust denier and advocate of genocide selected Durban II as his preferred global platform for promoting antisemitism. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the only head of state to attend Durban II. He opened the substantive portion of the conference on day one.

Ten democratic states rightly refused to legitimize Iran's forum of choice: Canada, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic.



Watch video here.
Statement by Anne Bayefsky at the Preparatory Committee Meeting for Durban II in the week prior to the Conference

April 17, 2009

Palais des Nations, Geneva


Watch video here.
Durban II: A UN Global Megaphone for Antisemitism

April 20, 2009: Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of Durban II

Palais des Nations, Geneva


Watch video here.
Statement by Anne Bayefsky at Durban II

April 23, 2009

Palais des Nations, Geneva

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The New York Daily News.

The UN's racist anti-racism bash, known as Durban II, continued in Geneva this week. State practitioners of the worst forms of intolerance declared their undying interest in tolerance, while various nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, were interrupted, intimidated or thrown out of the Palais des Nations altogether. It might have been just farcical but for the fact that American taxpayers are paying part of the bill.

Iranian bigot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had set a high bar for UN-driven hatemongering on Monday, and various states, observers and NGOs clearly felt liberated as a result. Libya accused Israel of crimes against humanity, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide and having "set up a Jewish state seeking ethnic and racial purity." The 20% non-Jewish population of Israel with more democratic rights than in any Arab state somehow never got mentioned.

A funny thing happened when the Libyan spoke. The United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Romania, Slovenia and Estonia all walked out. But just as had happened after the Ahmadinejad speech, they bounded back in when it was over. The legitimacy of an anti-racism conference that provides a platform for racists was never an issue for these European charlatans.

The Iranian diplomat left holding the bag after his president departed took umbrage at any criticism of his boss. He complained "there was neither any accusation nor incitement" in his speech and "Iran strongly rejects such irrelevant statements and considers them totally unacceptable." Perhaps he should re-read the bit about "exploiting the Holocaust" and "global Zionism's . . . ugly face."

Current genocide enthusiast Sudan made a nice statement about the importance of "dialogue among cultures and civilizations and religions and full abandonment of extremism, bigotry and division." Did you know that "Sudan was one of the first countries to organize conferences for the dialogue of cultures and religions, with the view that cultures and civilizations originate from understanding, dialogue, acceptance of different and positive coexistence, instead of conflict and confrontation"? I bet you didn't. Not to worry. Neither did anybody else.

Saudi Arabia was not to be outdone. According to Abdulwahab Attar: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . . . is endeavoring to prevent the occurrence of practices involving discrimination . . . The kingdom's anti-racism legislation is derived from the provisions of the Islamic Sharia, which emphasized equality and human dignity regardless of gender, color or race."

Attar delivered this statement without flinching - notwithstanding the fact that Saudi women have no freedom of movement and that they experience discrimination on every imaginable ground. In Saudi Arabia slavery among migrant workers is commonplace, conversion from Islam is punishable by death and the public practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal. None of that stopped him, naturally, from a long diatribe about freedom of religion in Israel - and about "the importance of all forms of dialogue at all levels to eliminate the causes of intolerance and nurture a spirit of cooperation."

Personally, I'd settle for a driver's license (currently denied all Saudi woman). But without an Israel-bashing angle, the idea doesn't stand a chance at Durban II.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leading Muslim Scholars Condemn Racism and Intolerance
Disguised as Cultural Diversity

Responding to the Declaration of the Durban Review Conference Zeyno Baran, Khaled Abu Toameh, Tarek Heggy, Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, Irfan al-Alawi and Veli Sirin decry the failure to recognize and condemn rampant oppression in the name of Islam.

The Hudson Institute hosted a panel today during the Durban Review Conference with an eminent group of Muslim scholars from Egypt, Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. All were highly disappointed by the conference's failure to grapple with one of the leading sources of intolerance in the world today - namely, bigotry and xenophobia in the name of religion itself and Islam in particular.

"The conference reaffirms the perception that Islam has been hijacked by a dominant minority of thugs, extremists and anti-Semites who claim that they are speaking on behalf of a majority of Muslims. Ahmadinejad and his likes should be the last to talk about racism, human rights and tolerance" said Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli-Arab journalist and filmmaker.

Zeyno Baran, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, remarked that "It is time the silent majority of Muslims speaks up in defense of universal human rights for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or gender. Humanity is one; labels have tragically divided us and Durban II sadly has missed another opportunity for an honest discussion."

Egyptian scholar Tarek Heggy noted that "The west has been listening to and dealing with a single Islamic voice - an extremely rigid one. It is the historic responsibility of the west to now listen to the many other voices, some of which are entirely different."

"Durban II," pointed out Dr. Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation UK, "has been discredited by hate speech, efforts to deny freedom of expression and attempts to limit the reach of anti-racism treaty obligations. The ploy has undermined, rather than supported, diversity in religion and culture. The United Nations has repeatedly failed to protect human rights and, ironically, Durban II uses alleged human rights principles to continue that inauspicious record." Al-Alawi, noted that the attempt to limit free speech by invoking Islam was illegitimate. "Islam benefits from debate and criticism. Islam needs free speech and Islam is strong enough to withstand negative speech."

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, executive director of the Center of Islamic Pluralism added that "All religion and spirituality originates with criticism and freedom of speech. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all began with a criticism of earlier, idolatrous religion, and no religion can flourish without freedom of opinion."

Veli Sirin, director of the Zentrum fur den Islamische Pluralismus (ZIP) in Germany and an activist in the Alevi youth opinion, said: "The experience of the Alevis in Turkey shows the negative consequences of monolithic attitudes in religion and the use of differences as a pretext for the brutal suppression of minorities. By ignoring the experience of these minorities, Durban II has done a tremendous disservice to many victims of racism and intolerance."

Hudson Institute is a non-partisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom.

Statement by Anne Bayefsky at the Durban Review Conference
United Nations, Palais des Nations, GENEVA, Switzerland
April 23, 2009

When all have left these halls and returned to the far reaches of the globe, the contribution of the Durban Review Conference to combating racism and intolerance will be remembered for its human face the face of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In this conference's opening moments, he took the opportunity you provided to trivialize the Holocaust and repeat his commitment to genocide against the UN member state of Israel.

His words were not an accident. Nor were they an afterthought. UN officials were fully aware of his hate-filled statement in advance. UN member states had heard him deliver the same message in the General Assembly only last fall. His active emissaries had made it publicly known to the Human Rights Council for over a year - and every preparatory meeting of this conference since (as recently as last week) exactly what his government intended to communicate.

And yet - the UN handed him a global megaphone, translated his hate speech into six languages and broadcast it around the world.

And when he was finished, what was the response from you who claim to care about combating intolerance?

His words promoting antisemitism were applauded in this very hall.

His words have been ensconced on the UN website where they continue to be disseminated around the globe.

His country was elected Vice-Chairman of this conference's committee charged with the adoption of the declaration before you.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also Secretary-General of this conference, thought his words should merely be labeled "political grandstanding" evidently unable to recognize antisemitism today.

Democracies who had promised a different response to Durban-sponsored hate, like the United Kingdom and France and Denmark, made a show of walking out part way through his speech, only to return as if it was a small glitch or an easily isolated event.

Durban II will therefore be remembered not only for the words of the Iranian President, but for the actions of his antisemitic supporters among you, his UN enablers, and all those states without the courage to reject a forum for bigotry when it masquerades as human rights however transparent the veil.

Durban II will be remembered for adopting a declaration that reaffirms discrimination and demonization of the Jewish state the antisemitism of the 21st century.

Durban II will therefore be remembered for the abomination of turning the spread of antisemitism into a human right.

Durban II will be remembered for its cynical reference to the Holocaust while planting the seeds for another genocide against the Jewish people and its nation.

Durban II will be remembered for purporting to build equality for some, on the sands of inequality for others.

Durban II will be remembered for poisoning the wellspring of universal values.

Durban II represents the triumph of hate over hope.

And the dustbin of history is its only desert.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The New York Daily News.

On Tuesday, the UN's racist anti-racism conference "Durban II" rammed through a final declaration three days before its scheduled conclusion. On Monday Iranian President Ahamadinejad had opened the substantive program by denying the Holocaust and spewing antisemitism. A day later UN members rewarded Iran by electing it one of three Vice-Chairs of the committee which adopted the final declaration.

The committee meeting was chaired by Libya and lasted fifteen minutes. No discussion of the merits of the Durban II declaration was tolerated.

The document reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration which alleges Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism and mentions only Israel among all 192 UN member states. It also multiplies the anti-Israel provisions, using the usual UN code, by adding yet another rant about racist foreign occupation.

Not surprisingly, such a manifesto encouraged the racists and antisemites which had pressed for its adoption. Speaking on Tuesday the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faysal Mekdad, alleged "the right of return" of Jews to Israel - Jewish self-determination - was "a form of racial discrimination". He also objected to the "Judaization of Israel" and to the "ethnic cleansing...of 1948."

Palestinian Riyad Al-Maliki claimed that "for over 60 years the Palestinian people has been suffering under...the ugliest face of racism and racial discrimination..." and said an Israeli government "declaration...regarding the Jewish nature of the state is a form of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." Al-Maliki was delighted with the result of the conference and gloated by reading excerpts from the 2001 Durban Declaration that he was pleased to see had been reaffirmed.

The remnants of the European Union which remained inside the conference - in particular France and the United Kingdom - entirely ignored their many promises not to accept anything which singled out the Jewish state. Though these Europeans undoubtedly enabled the hatemongering, their excuses in the coming days are predictable.

The rest of the week has been set aside for speechifying. Europeans can be expected to point to the miniscule mentions of antisemitism and the Holocaust and pretend antisemitism is unrelated to the demonization of Israel in the very same text.

Their behavior is as chilling as the behavior of the UN itself. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay issued a press release following Ahmadinejad's speech in which she complained: "I condemn the use of a UN forum for political grandstanding. I find this totally objectionable. Much of his speech was clearly beyond the scope of the Conference."

Ahmadinejad's speech was not political grandstanding. It was antisemitism. The problem with Holocaust denial is not the scope of the conference. The problem is that it is a form of antisemitism. A Durban II Declaration which continues to demonize Israel - and therefore fosters the murder of Jews in the here and now - is not legitimate because it feigns concern over Jews murdered in the past.

April 21st was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Its message, however, was totally lost on the United Nations.

presents

Implementing Universal Human Rights Standards in the Fight Against Racism and Religious Intolerance

April 23, 2009, 15:00 17:00
Palais des Nations, Geneva
Room/Salle XXV

Renowned Muslim experts from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America gather to consider how the implementation of universal human rights standards should be applied to racism and religious intolerance

UN Member States have agreed to the responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, but what is today's reality? With the proliferation of xenophobia and the questioning of universal human rights standards, the world is witnessing increasing conflict and repression rooted in intolerance. The Hudson Institute presents a unique opportunity to hear a prestigious panel gathered from four continents to discuss the universality of human rights standards in the fight against racism and religious intolerance.

Zeyno Baran is the Director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Eurasian Policy. Formerly, Baran directed the International Security and Energy Programs at The Nixon Center and the Caucasus Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She was awarded the Order of Honor by Georgian President Shevardnadze, and has been a Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin.

Khaled Abu Toameh is an Israeli Arab journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is the West Bank and Gaza correspondent for U.S. News and World Report and the Jerusalem Post, and has been the Palestinian affairs producer for NBC News since 1988.

Stephen Schwartz is the author of 20 books, including The Two Faces of Islam (translated into Bosnian, Albanian, Indonesian, and Farsi) and The Other Islam, both of which have gained wide readership in the Muslim world as well as in the West. He also worked as a consultant for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia.

Irfan Al-Alawi is a barrister in the U.K. and has a Ph. D. in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University, Cairo. He is currently Executive Director of the Islamic Heritage Foundation UK. He is a widely recognized historian of Mecca and Medina and co-author of an important work with Shaykh Yusuf Rifa'i.

Veli Sirin is a graduate in Islamic studies of the University of Bochum, he is a leader in the Alevi Youth Movement, a journalist and German Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.

Tarek Heggy studied law at Ain Shams University in Cairo, followed by a degree from the International Management Institute of Geneva University. He taught law in Algeria and Morocco and went on to become Chairman of Shell Companies in Egypt. He has lectured at universities throughout the world.

Hudson Institute is a non-partisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom.

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The New York Daily News.

On Tuesday, the UN's racist anti-racism conference "Durban II" rammed through a final declaration three days before its scheduled conclusion. On Monday Iranian President Ahamadinejad had opened the substantive program by denying the Holocaust and spewing antisemitism. A day later UN members rewarded Iran by electing it one of three Vice-Chairs of the committee which adopted the final declaration.

The committee meeting was chaired by Libya and lasted fifteen minutes. No discussion of the merits of the Durban II declaration was tolerated.

The document reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration which alleges Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism and mentions only Israel among all 192 UN member states. It also multiplies the anti-Israel provisions, using the usual UN code, by adding yet another rant about racist foreign occupation.

Not surprisingly, such a manifesto encouraged the racists and antisemites which had pressed for its adoption. Speaking on Tuesday the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faysal Mekdad, alleged "the right of return" of Jews to Israel - Jewish self-determination - was "a form of racial discrimination". He also objected to the "Judaization of Israel" and to the "ethnic cleansing...of 1948."

Palestinian Riyad Al-Maliki claimed that "for over 60 years the Palestinian people has been suffering under...the ugliest face of racism and racial discrimination..." and said an Israeli government "declaration...regarding the Jewish nature of the state is a form of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." Al-Maliki was delighted with the result of the conference and gloated by reading excerpts from the 2001 Durban Declaration that he was pleased to see had been reaffirmed.

The remnants of the European Union which remained inside the conference - in particular France and the United Kingdom - entirely ignored their many promises not to accept anything which singled out the Jewish state. Though these Europeans undoubtedly enabled the hatemongering, their excuses in the coming days are predictable.

The rest of the week has been set aside for speechifying. Europeans can be expected to point to the miniscule mentions of antisemitism and the Holocaust and pretend antisemitism is unrelated to the demonization of Israel in the very same text.

Their behavior is as chilling as the behavior of the UN itself. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay issued a press release following Ahmadinejad's speech in which she complained: "I condemn the use of a UN forum for political grandstanding. I find this totally objectionable. Much of his speech was clearly beyond the scope of the Conference."

Ahmadinejad's speech was not political grandstanding. It was antisemitism. The problem with Holocaust denial is not the scope of the conference. The problem is that it is a form of antisemitism. A Durban II Declaration which continues to demonize Israel - and therefore fosters the murder of Jews in the here and now - is not legitimate because it feigns concern over Jews murdered in the past.

April 21st was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Its message, however, was totally lost on the United Nations.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The New York Daily News.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance in Geneva Monday at the UN's so-called anti-racism conference, Durban II, made the point better than anyone else. The UN's idea of combating racism and xenophobia is to encourage more of it. Ahmadinejad was the very first speaker as the substantive session opened. Handed a global megaphone by the UN, out flowed unadulterated hate speech. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance in Geneva Monday at the UN's so-called anti-racism conference, Durban II, made the point better than anyone else. The UN's idea of combating racism and xenophobia is to encourage more of it. Ahmadinejad was the very first speaker as the substantive session opened. Handed a global megaphone by the UN, out flowed unadulterated hate speech.

The phenomenon was astonishing. The UN provided a platform for a virulent antisemite on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. In the name of fighting intolerance, they translated his words into six languages and broadcast them around the world. As he entered the grand room at the UN's Palais Wilson, he was met by a round of applause. And this is what he said.

He began by denying the Holocaust: The "Zionist regime" had been created "on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the ambiguous and dubious question of holocaust."

And he continued with a genocidal agenda: "the egoist and uncivilized Zionism have been able to deeply penetrate into their political and economic structure including their legislation, mass media, companies, financial systems, and their security and intelligence agencies. They have imposed their domination to the extent that nothing can be done against their will. As long as they are at the helm of power, justice will never prevail in the world. It is time the ideal of Zionism, which is the paragon of racism, to be broken. The world Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuse religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces."

As he spoke, the European Union countries that had not withdrawn earlier finally stood up and walked out. But they didn't really understand what had just happened at all, for when he was finished, all but the Czech Republic went right back in.

Ten countries have now boycotted this second Durban hatefest: Canada, Israel, the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. The rest of the world remains inside, providing legitimacy to a forum for hatemongering. They are under the impression that there is no lasting damage being done here either to the credibility of the institutional host or to the cause of protecting human rights. They are wrong.

And the real victims of human rights are all the poorer for it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The New York Daily News.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance in Geneva Monday at the UN's so-called anti-racism conference, Durban II, made the point better than anyone else. The UN's idea of combating racism and xenophobia is to encourage more of it. Ahmadinejad was the very first speaker as the substantive session opened. Handed a global megaphone by the UN, out flowed unadulterated hate speech.

The phenomenon was astonishing. The UN provided a platform for a virulent antisemite on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. In the name of fighting intolerance, they translated his words into six languages and broadcast them around the world. As he entered the grand room at the UN's Palais Wilson, he was met by a round of applause. And this is what he said.

He began by denying the Holocaust: The "Zionist regime" had been created "on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the ambiguous and dubious question of holocaust."

And he continued with a genocidal agenda: "the egoist and uncivilized Zionism have been able to deeply penetrate into their political and economic structure including their legislation, mass media, companies, financial systems, and their security and intelligence agencies. They have imposed their domination to the extent that nothing can be done against their will. As long as they are at the helm of power, justice will never prevail in the world. It is time the ideal of Zionism, which is the paragon of racism, to be broken. The world Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuse religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces."

As he spoke, the European Union countries that had not withdrawn earlier finally stood up and walked out. But they didn't really understand what had just happened at all, for when he was finished, all but the Czech Republic went right back in.

Ten countries have now boycotted this second Durban hatefest: Canada, Israel, the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. The rest of the world remains inside, providing legitimacy to a forum for hatemongering. They are under the impression that there is no lasting damage being done here either to the credibility of the institutional host or to the cause of protecting human rights. They are wrong.

And the real victims of human rights are all the poorer for it.