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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Announces He Will Attend Durban II

EYEontheUN has learned that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced his intention to attend the Durban II "anti-racism" conference. Durban II is billed by the UN as an occasion to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. But Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, has advocated genocide and openly seeks the annihilation of the state of Israel. In providing a hatemonger with a global platform - under the banner of an anti-racism conference - the United Nations has become an enabler of genocide.

Anne Bayefsky, Editor of EYEontheUN urged: "It is time for every decent self-respecting democratic state to withdraw immediately from Durban II the platform for genocide."

The Iranian President had every reason to expect a warm reception from the UN. The UN Human Rights Council elected Iran as a Vice-Chair of the Preparatory Committee of Durban II. Iran has been the single most active participant in this week's preparatory sessions going on in Geneva. Iran has succeeded in denying a Jewish non-governmental organization accreditation to preparations for Durban II. At yesterday's negotiating sessions for a final document to be adopted formally at Durban II, the Iranian representative proposed sweeping limitations on freedom of expression and protection for "cultural diversity" as a vehicle for justifying Iranian laws that permit the stoning of women, the murder of homosexuals, and the torture of dissidents.

When Ahmadinejad spoke to the UN General Assembly last September he said:

    The dignity, integrity and rights of the European and American people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner...This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people...Today, the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse, and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters.
Ahmadinejad's hateful speech was greeted by applause from the assembled UN member states.

As Bayefsky points out, "it can be expected that Ahmadinejad will use the opportunity of the UN Durban II global megaphone to continue his genocidal campaign. After all, the current draft text of the Durban II final declaration continues to single out Israel and condemn it as racist by reaffirming the words of the 2001 Durban Declaration."

Will the European Union, Australia, and the United States sit in their seats at Durban II and listen to the hatemongering and anticipated applause?

"Democratic states, having delayed a decision about participation until the final hour," said Bayefsky, "have encouraged Ahmadinejad to believe he has one more opportunity to spread antisemitism and demonize the Jewish state. It is long past the deadline for democracies to pull the plug on Durban II and stop legitimizing a racist anti-racism conference."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

The festivities at the U.N. Durban II "anti-racism" planning meeting continued this afternoon in Geneva. The conference starts in two weeks, but the negotiations are already heated. Not surprisingly, the most active participants by a huge margin are the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC]. And right at the top of the OIC's star contributors - in a meeting to combat intolerance - is Iran. That's the country where homosexuality is a capital offence, women are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and whose president openly advocates the murder of 5 million Jews.

Iran made 13 suggestions about how the final declaration, to be adopted formally at the conference itself, could better protect human rights. And that bastion of civil rights Syria intervened to help draft a "human rights" declaration five times. By comparison, the Czech Republic, on behalf of the 27 members of the European Union, had something to say six times. When U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice gives speeches about the glories of being there, this what being there actually means.

Iran introduced the idea of adding more protection for "cultural diversity." Iran also suggested a new paragraph concerned with "defamation of religions." That's the alleged criticism of a religion, not concern with human rights. The targets are anything religious fanatics think "project...negative, insulting and derogatory images of religions and religious personalities." And by the way the concern is not with any religion, but "Islam in particular."

And Iran proposed this new paragraph on freedom of expression interested not with freedom but with the "abuse" of freedom:

    Notes that other obstacles hampering progress in the collective struggle against racism and racial discrimination...including negative abuse of freedom of expression, counter-terrorism, and national security stereotypical association of religion with terrorism and violence by the media and national security forces.
Immediately after these contributions, the Syrian delegate burst out: "We want to announce that we will be submitting money to the Durban Review Conference!" The Russian Chair then exclaimed, "That's the best news we've had today!"

Are you excited too? Because your U.N. ambassador is tearing up the phone lines wanting to participate.

Just in case the phony Durban II "anti-racism" agenda isn't clear yet, there was also a big push to get rid of any suggestion that this is about non-discrimination. The European Union wanted a paragraph saying:
    There should be no hierarchy among potential victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and that all victims should receive the same attention, the necessary protection and accordingly appropriate treatment.
South Africa and Iran called for the deletion of this idea. Without the slightest embarrassment, Pakistan declared: "Not all victims are in the same category."

Iran went on to call for taking "steps...to sensitize the public at large and raise understanding of cultural differences and foster cultural diversity...[and] build the culture of peace." Quite a mouthful coming from a country on the verge of acquiring weapons of mass destruction and using them.

Various states proposed getting rid of the role of a "competent and impartial judiciary to determine in fair and public procedure whether acts presented before it constitute acts of racism." Still more states called for the deletion of "Affirms that full implementation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights is fundamental for the global fight against racism and racial discrimination." (The 1965 convention is perceived by Islamic countries as insufficient to deal with what they call "contemporary forms of racism and intolerance." In other words, promoting this treaty would run counter to the idea that Muslims are the premier victims of intolerance.)

This is U.N.-based "engagement" up -close and personal, without the gloss of fancy speeches from the new Waldorf-Astoria digs of Ambassador Rice. So why is the Obama administration still toying with legitimizing Durban II?

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

Here is a window on the dirty game of U.N. politics that is laughably called "human rights." The scene is the U.N.'s Palais des Nations, in Geneva, where negotiations are taking place over the final document to be adopted formally at Durban II, the U.N.'s "anti-racism" conference that begins on April 20. President Obama is desperate to avoid offending anybody who is not American, particularly Islamic states, so American officials remain tight-lipped about whether they will participate in Durban II or not. While Americans observe the planning sessions from the sidelines, this is what is happening in the pit.

The first issue discussed today was the central one for American participation. Israel was the only nation criticized by name in the 2001 Durban Declaration, which asserts that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism. Although the Obama administration stated last month that it would not agree to "reaffirm the Durban Declaration in toto," paragraph number 1 of the working draft of this year's declaration "reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration as it was adopted."

Today the European Union indicated that it is satisfied with this language and has no intention of proposing any modification that would bring the Americans onboard. Suggestions had been floating around to reaffirm only "the core provisions from 2001," or to insert an explanatory footnote with reservations. None of this materialized. It turns out that the EU's "who gives a damn about the U.S." position is part of a deal struck with Islamic extremists. As long as the EU reaffirms the denunciation of Israeli racism in Durban I, Islamic states will refrain from introducing more racist-Israel language into Durban II. That's how the EU does business: Forget the principle - just keep the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) happy.

The EU position should spell the end of Obama's fence-sitting. The game is up; alleged Israeli racism is going to be "reaffirmed," since not one country is prepared to oppose it.

Meanwhile, the idea of denouncing anti-semitism remains controversial. In this global proclamation about intolerance, there is only one draft paragraph among 141 that briefly mentions "anti-semitism," and today the South Africans indicated they had problems with that paragraph. The Russian chair of the proceedings announced that he was delaying consideration of the subject and moving its discussion to an unrelated debate over paragraphs concerning freedom of expression.

What's behind all this? The OIC countries are locked in a struggle with EU states over the ability to stifle free speech (such as "defaming" Islam) in the name of protecting religion. The Russian move helps the OIC nations by letting them use the anti-semitism clause as a bargaining chip, to be played in exchange for the EU's allowing free-speech restrictions. In a related issue, the Danish are unhappy with the mention of something the U.N. invented called "anti-Arabism." That phrase has been inserted in the paragraph about discrimination in the form of Islamophobia, Christianophobia and anti-semitism. But the rest of the EU has told the Danes to get lost, on the grounds that if the EU proposes deleting anti-Arabism, the OIC will insist on deleting anti-semitism. As EU officials explain to observers, "We want to show restraint."

Restraint of course, is a one-way street at the U.N. So the Syrians duly proposed adding a denunciation of "foreign occupation" - a.k.a. Israel. Not one country objected to the Syrian proposal - not even Australia, which until now had not been intimidated by the anti-Israel and anti-democratic forces. According to U.N. rules, this means the proposed language will be added into the draft in "square brackets," indicating that it is firmly in the mix for the purposes of future deal-making. Syria also said, "later on we will propose further amendments."

Watching the U.N. conduct the business of human rights is revealing. It teaches us how negotiations between fascists and democrats proceed. Democrats "show restraint," while fascists don't care who they offend or what they say. And more often than not, Jews and the Jewish state are the political football. The farthest thing from this playing field is true concern over the protection of human rights.

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

The festivities at the U.N. Durban II "anti-racism" planning meeting continued this afternoon in Geneva. The conference starts in two weeks, but the negotiations are already heated. Not surprisingly, the most active participants by a huge margin are the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC]. And right at the top of the OIC's star contributors - in a meeting to combat intolerance - is Iran. That's the country where homosexuality is a capital offence, women are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and whose president openly advocates the murder of 5 million Jews.

Iran made 13 suggestions about how the final declaration, to be adopted formally at the conference itself, could better protect human rights. And that bastion of civil rights Syria intervened to help draft a "human rights" declaration five times. By comparison, the Czech Republic, on behalf of the 27 members of the European Union, had something to say six times. When U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice gives speeches about the glories of being there, this what being there actually means.

Iran introduced the idea of adding more protection for "cultural diversity." Iran also suggested a new paragraph concerned with "defamation of religions." That's the alleged criticism of a religion, not concern with human rights. The targets are anything religious fanatics think "project...negative, insulting and derogatory images of religions and religious personalities." And by the way the concern is not with any religion, but "Islam in particular."

And Iran proposed this new paragraph on freedom of expression interested not with freedom but with the "abuse" of freedom:

    Notes that other obstacles hampering progress in the collective struggle against racism and racial discrimination...including negative abuse of freedom of expression, counter-terrorism, and national security stereotypical association of religion with terrorism and violence by the media and national security forces.

Immediately after these contributions, the Syrian delegate burst out: "We want to announce that we will be submitting money to the Durban Review Conference!" The Russian Chair then exclaimed, "That's the best news we've had today!"

Are you excited too? Because your U.N. ambassador is tearing up the phone lines wanting to participate.

Just in case the phony Durban II "anti-racism" agenda isn't clear yet, there was also a big push to get rid of any suggestion that this is about non-discrimination. The European Union wanted a paragraph saying:

    There should be no hierarchy among potential victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and that all victims should receive the same attention, the necessary protection and accordingly appropriate treatment.

South Africa and Iran called for the deletion of this idea. Without the slightest embarrassment, Pakistan declared: "Not all victims are in the same category."

Iran went on to call for taking "steps...to sensitize the public at large and raise understanding of cultural differences and foster cultural diversity...[and] build the culture of peace." Quite a mouthful coming from a country on the verge of acquiring weapons of mass destruction and using them.

Various states proposed getting rid of the role of a "competent and impartial judiciary to determine in fair and public procedure whether acts presented before it constitute acts of racism." Still more states called for the deletion of "Affirms that full implementation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights is fundamental for the global fight against racism and racial discrimination." (The 1965 convention is perceived by Islamic countries as insufficient to deal with what they call "contemporary forms of racism and intolerance." In other words, promoting this treaty would run counter to the idea that Muslims are the premier victims of intolerance.)

This is U.N.-based "engagement" up -close and personal, without the gloss of fancy speeches from the new Waldorf-Astoria digs of Ambassador Rice. So why is the Obama administration still toying with legitimizing Durban II?

Kicking Israel Around

Anne Bayefsky

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

Here is a window on the dirty game of U.N. politics that is laughably called "human rights." The scene is the U.N.'s Palais des Nations, in Geneva, where negotiations are taking place over the final document to be adopted formally at Durban II, the U.N.'s "anti-racism" conference that begins on April 20. President Obama is desperate to avoid offending anybody who is not American, particularly Islamic states, so American officials remain tight-lipped about whether they will participate in Durban II or not. While Americans observe the planning sessions from the sidelines, this is what is happening in the pit.

The first issue discussed today was the central one for American participation. Israel was the only nation criticized by name in the 2001 Durban Declaration, which asserts that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism. Although the Obama administration stated last month that it would not agree to "reaffirm the Durban Declaration in toto," paragraph number 1 of the working draft of this year's declaration "reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration as it was adopted."

Today the European Union indicated that it is satisfied with this language and has no intention of proposing any modification that would bring the Americans onboard. Suggestions had been floating around to reaffirm only "the core provisions from 2001," or to insert an explanatory footnote with reservations. None of this materialized. It turns out that the EU's "who gives a damn about the U.S." position is part of a deal struck with Islamic extremists. As long as the EU reaffirms the denunciation of Israeli racism in Durban I, Islamic states will refrain from introducing more racist-Israel language into Durban II. That's how the EU does business: Forget the principle - just keep the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) happy.

The EU position should spell the end of Obama's fence-sitting. The game is up; alleged Israeli racism is going to be "reaffirmed," since not one country is prepared to oppose it.

Meanwhile, the idea of denouncing anti-semitism remains controversial. In this global proclamation about intolerance, there is only one draft paragraph among 141 that briefly mentions "anti-semitism," and today the South Africans indicated they had problems with that paragraph. The Russian chair of the proceedings announced that he was delaying consideration of the subject and moving its discussion to an unrelated debate over paragraphs concerning freedom of expression.

What's behind all this? The OIC countries are locked in a struggle with EU states over the ability to stifle free speech (such as "defaming" Islam) in the name of protecting religion. The Russian move helps the OIC nations by letting them use the anti-semitism clause as a bargaining chip, to be played in exchange for the EU's allowing free-speech restrictions. In a related issue, the Danish are unhappy with the mention of something the U.N. invented called "anti-Arabism." That phrase has been inserted in the paragraph about discrimination in the form of Islamophobia, Christianophobia and anti-semitism. But the rest of the EU has told the Danes to get lost, on the grounds that if the EU proposes deleting anti-Arabism, the OIC will insist on deleting anti-semitism. As EU officials explain to observers, "We want to show restraint."

Restraint of course, is a one-way street at the U.N. So the Syrians duly proposed adding a denunciation of "foreign occupation" - a.k.a. Israel. Not one country objected to the Syrian proposal - not even Australia, which until now had not been intimidated by the anti-Israel and anti-democratic forces. According to U.N. rules, this means the proposed language will be added into the draft in "square brackets," indicating that it is firmly in the mix for the purposes of future deal-making. Syria also said, "later on we will propose further amendments."

Watching the U.N. conduct the business of human rights is revealing. It teaches us how negotiations between fascists and democrats proceed. Democrats "show restraint," while fascists don't care who they offend or what they say. And more often than not, Jews and the Jewish state are the political football. The farthest thing from this playing field is true concern over the protection of human rights.

Monday, April 06, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

The Durban II U.N. "anti-racism" conference is set to begin April 20 -- the anniversary of Hitler's birth -- and the committee responsible for drafting the conference's final declaration met today in Geneva. As the dialogue for and against expressing regret for the Holocaust continued, President Obama hasn't decided whether the U.S. will attend the conference, apparently quivering at the prospect of "non-engagement."

Engagement in this U.N. forum is about giving voice to anti-Semites and racists -- under the guise of combating racism. Today Iran used the U.N. megaphone to express its views about human rights as many times as the entire European Union did; Iran was second only to South Africa. Syria took the opportunity to announce it had reservations about the Holocaust paragraph, which reads: "Recalls that the Holocaust must never be forgotten, and in this context urges all U.N. members to implement GA resolutions 60/7 and 61/255." Iran's delegate immediately declared "a lot of support for the specific comments of Syria."

Syria and Iran's constant complaints about the reference to the Holocaust have already done enormous damage to the credibility of Durban II. The above-quoted paragraph is a stripped-down version of an older text that was more expansive and action-oriented. It included:

    Affirms that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one-third of the Jewish people, along with numerous members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice; recalls again that the Holocaust must never be forgotten
    . . . .
    Urges States to raise awareness and to implement United Nations General Assembly resolutions 60/7 and 61/255 which inter alia observed that remembrance of the Holocaust is critical to prevent further acts of genocide, condemned without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urged all Member States to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event either in full or in part or any activities to this end.
When the European Union listed its various objections to the negotiating text today, the deletion of these detailed references to the Holocaust (which they themselves had originally proposed) was not among them. This is the essence of what consensus means at the United Nations: A lowest common denominator emerges for reasons having nothing to do with human rights.

Syria and Iran also served notice that they do not intend to leave the effort to demonize a "racist Israel" off the table at Durban II. Said Syria, "We feel the structure of the text is not victims-oriented as it allows the perpetrators of racism to find refuge. . . . We will not endorse a process that ignores the surviving apartheid regime."

Also, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for the "reaffirmation" of the 2001 conference's final document so that "we can hope to alleviate the plight of countless victims of racism." Pillay chose her words deliberately. She knew this amounted to once again labelling Israel as racist. She was fully aware that such a "reaffirmation" is a primary hurdle to U.S. participation in Durban II -- because the 2001 document's list of "victims of racism" includes "the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation."

Also engaging in this "human rights" discussion was Pakistan. On behalf of the 56 states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan indicated that the paragraph mentioning anti-Semitism needed "more work."

Cuba, meanwhile, got upset about this idea: "Stresses that the right to freedom of opinion and expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society, since it ensures access to a multitude of ideas and views." Cuba declared: "I don't think this is really a subject matter for the conference and should be deleted."

Throughout this "human rights" dialogue, Australia contributed a sentence, the U.S. and Italy observed from the sidelines, and the Dutch pointed out that the draft still undermined freedom of expression.

In the U.N.'s Geneva halls, there is much speculation that the Obama administration might be prepared to join Durban II if a nice footnote were tacked on explaining U.S. reservations. But such a trick was tried on Canada in 2001, and every U.N. publication of the Durban Declaration thereafter failed to reproduce the Canadian caveats.

Furthermore, throughout today's meeting repeated calls for the full implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration were approved without any objections (although all approvals are tentative until the whole package is agreed.) Given all of these other references to the 2001 Durban Declaration, it would be virtually impossible for a minor footnote to satisfy the administration's stated condition that it will not "reaffirm the Durban Declaration in toto."

Also influencing the administration's stance on U.S. participation is the recent decision by President Obama to join the permanent Israel-bashing forum known as the Human Rights Council. The move may make the president feel inclined to throw American Jews a bone by not attending Durban II. The president may also believe he will be able to extract some future concession from Israel for the magnanimous step of deciding not to participate in a global platform for anti-Semitism.

Having left this matter of principle to the last minute, what the administration really deserves is derision. The shameful delay has defeated the chances of a much wider -- and much deserved -- boycott of this dangerous gathering.

The Durban Delay

Anne Bayefsky

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

The Durban II U.N. "anti-racism" conference is set to begin April 20 -- the anniversary of Hitler's birth -- and the committee responsible for drafting the conference's final declaration met today in Geneva. As the dialogue for and against expressing regret for the Holocaust continued, President Obama hasn't decided whether the U.S. will attend the conference, apparently quivering at the prospect of "non-engagement."

Engagement in this U.N. forum is about giving voice to anti-Semites and racists -- under the guise of combating racism. Today Iran used the U.N. megaphone to express its views about human rights as many times as the entire European Union did; Iran was second only to South Africa. Syria took the opportunity to announce it had reservations about the Holocaust paragraph, which reads: "Recalls that the Holocaust must never be forgotten, and in this context urges all U.N. members to implement GA resolutions 60/7 and 61/255." Iran's delegate immediately declared "a lot of support for the specific comments of Syria."

Syria and Iran's constant complaints about the reference to the Holocaust have already done enormous damage to the credibility of Durban II. The above-quoted paragraph is a stripped-down version of an older text that was more expansive and action-oriented. It included:

    Affirms that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one-third of the Jewish people, along with numerous members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice; recalls again that the Holocaust must never be forgotten
    . . . .
    Urges States to raise awareness and to implement United Nations General Assembly resolutions 60/7 and 61/255 which inter alia observed that remembrance of the Holocaust is critical to prevent further acts of genocide, condemned without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urged all Member States to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event either in full or in part or any activities to this end.

When the European Union listed its various objections to the negotiating text today, the deletion of these detailed references to the Holocaust (which they themselves had originally proposed) was not among them. This is the essence of what consensus means at the United Nations: A lowest common denominator emerges for reasons having nothing to do with human rights.

Syria and Iran also served notice that they do not intend to leave the effort to demonize a "racist Israel" off the table at Durban II. Said Syria, "We feel the structure of the text is not victims-oriented as it allows the perpetrators of racism to find refuge. . . . We will not endorse a process that ignores the surviving apartheid regime."

Also, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for the "reaffirmation" of the 2001 conference's final document so that "we can hope to alleviate the plight of countless victims of racism." Pillay chose her words deliberately. She knew this amounted to once again labelling Israel as racist. She was fully aware that such a "reaffirmation" is a primary hurdle to U.S. participation in Durban II -- because the 2001 document's list of "victims of racism" includes "the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation."

Also engaging in this "human rights" discussion was Pakistan. On behalf of the 56 states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan indicated that the paragraph mentioning anti-Semitism needed "more work."

Cuba, meanwhile, got upset about this idea: "Stresses that the right to freedom of opinion and expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society, since it ensures access to a multitude of ideas and views." Cuba declared: "I don't think this is really a subject matter for the conference and should be deleted."

Throughout this "human rights" dialogue, Australia contributed a sentence, the U.S. and Italy observed from the sidelines, and the Dutch pointed out that the draft still undermined freedom of expression.

In the U.N.'s Geneva halls, there is much speculation that the Obama administration might be prepared to join Durban II if a nice footnote were tacked on explaining U.S. reservations. But such a trick was tried on Canada in 2001, and every U.N. publication of the Durban Declaration thereafter failed to reproduce the Canadian caveats.

Furthermore, throughout today's meeting repeated calls for the full implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration were approved without any objections (although all approvals are tentative until the whole package is agreed.) Given all of these other references to the 2001 Durban Declaration, it would be virtually impossible for a minor footnote to satisfy the administration's stated condition that it will not "reaffirm the Durban Declaration in toto."

Also influencing the administration's stance on U.S. participation is the recent decision by President Obama to join the permanent Israel-bashing forum known as the Human Rights Council. The move may make the president feel inclined to throw American Jews a bone by not attending Durban II. The president may also believe he will be able to extract some future concession from Israel for the magnanimous step of deciding not to participate in a global platform for anti-Semitism.

Having left this matter of principle to the last minute, what the administration really deserves is derision. The shameful delay has defeated the chances of a much wider -- and much deserved -- boycott of this dangerous gathering.