EYEontheUN ALERT - April 22, 2009
Durban Diary, day two: The outrage continues 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.