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Resources updated between Monday, April 21, 2008 and Sunday, April 27, 2008

April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Durban Review Conference - Durban II

Preparatory Committee
First substantive session, Geneva, 21 April-2 May 2008

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Durban II - A conference to redefine "antisemitism" (2)
April 23, 2008: The Libyan Chairperson, Najat Al-Hajjaji, silencing criticism of efforts to redefine antisemitism at Durban II

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Durban II - A conference to redefine "antisemitism" (3)
April 23, 2008: The Algerian representative (inadvertently) confirms the attempt to redefine antisemitism at Durban II

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Durban Review Conference - Durban II

Preparatory Committee
First substantive session, Geneva, 21 April-2 May 2008

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Durban II: The Nightmare Unfolds
April 22, 2008: Durban II - shaping up to be the nightmare anticipated

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Durban II: The First Day - Preventing a Jewish NGO From Participating
April 21, 2008: The Preparatory Committee spent 3/4 of the first day debating accreditation of the Jewish NGO - the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA)

Redefining Anti-Semitism

Anne Bayefsky

Redefining Anti-Semitism At Durban II, only anti-Muslim racism counts.

Geneva - Tuesday was Day 2 of the United Nations hatefest known as the "first substantive session of the Durban Review Preparatory Committee," now taking place in Geneva. Delegates rolled up their sleeves, and the Jewish and Western-bashing exercise entered a new phase.

The Egyptian representative gave a good summary of most everything wrong with Durban II. He claimed the conference and its preparatory process should focus on criminalizing "racial profiling," "racism in the media," "the challenges posed by Islamophobia since the events on 9/11," and "instrumentalization of democratic processes for racist applications." In short, racism is an evil Western plot to victimize Muslims, who can only be protected by the undermining of democracy, freedom, and law enforcement.

The Ambassador of Sri Lanka was more philosophical. In his words, "the relationship between racial discrimination and freedom of expression is a complex and dialectical one; more freedom of expression is not an antidote to racial discrimination."

The Algerian Ambassador took the U.N. Durban II platform to claim "anti-semitism . . . targets . . . Arabs who are also Semites, and by extension, the whole Muslim community." Defining anti-Semitism this way has become a key component of the Durban II strategy, since once the concept has been Islamicized, Muslim states are happy to shout about taking it very seriously, confident that Western UN-ophiles still won't catch on to their game.

While the European Union attendees stayed in their seats, the assault on democracy carried on. Algeria said "freedom of expression spread[s] hatred and violence and lead[s] to the burning of mosques in 'advanced' countries." Syria ranted about "the crimes that are perpetrated in the name of democracy" and the "killers" that "are countries that advocate democracy . . . and give [a] free hand to perpetrate massacres."

U.N. "expert" Doudou Diene from Senegal - whose name has been bandied about as a possible successor to the current U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, who retires in June - worried about "groups that have instrumentalized the freedom of expression" and the so-called "ideological freedom of expression." According to Diene, "we should no longer use freedom of expression as the ideological tool [it is] . . . today." The "Danish caricatures" cannot be tolerated in the name of freedom of expression "anymore."

Though the United States is boycotting the forum, American taxpayers will be surprised to learn that - if the U.N. gets its way - they are still paying for it. The U.N. Secretariat revealed a new end-run around the U.S. promise not to fund Durban II. The secretariat announced that they had cut their original $7 million price tag for the preparatory side of Durban II in half. The other half will be "absorbed in existing resources" - a euphemism for using funds already in U.N. coffers, 22 percent of which are from American taxes. Washington is now faced with ensuring that this brazen attempt to avoid official American policy does not succeed.

And the EU is faced with the impossible task of keeping a straight face while speechifying that Durban II is good for human rights.

This article first appeared in National Review Online.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Room at the U.N. Inn

Anne Bayefsky

Geneva - The United Nations opened an "anti-racism" meeting here Monday. First up on the agenda? Anti-Semitism. Not anti-anti-Semitism but actual anti-Semitism via a U.N. platform, translated into six languages and webcast around the globe. The occasion was the first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee for the Durban II Conference. For those who worried that Durban II might be a repeat of the first Durban hatefest, which ended three days before 9/11, those fears can be set aside. Durban II is going to make Durban I look like a picnic.

Three quarters of the entire opening day was spent on one subject - an Iranian-driven attempt to deny participatory rights or accreditation to the nongovernmental organization called the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy. Their crime? Algeria was concerned about Jewish money, or "their sources of funding." The Palestinian observer complained the NGO supported Israeli settlements and no NGO supporting an illegal activity could be involved in Durban II. With Libya acting as the meeting's chair, Iran as a vice chair, and Cuba as rapporteur, nobody thought to mention the criminals sitting on the Preparatory Committee (or PrepCom) itself.

While the Palestinian ranted about settlements, Algeria and Egypt voiced their support for rejecting this NGO's accreditation on the basis that inclusion would be "political" and "politics must be set aside." Neither was the least embarrassed by the obvious contradiction of their alleged rationale and their railing about alleged violations of human rights by a specific state - the only such attack on a country-specific situation the whole day.

The Libyan chair, Najat Al-Hajjaji, served as one of the last chairpersons of the old U.N. Human Rights Commission during its final disreputable implosion. Evidently aiming for a repeat performance with the Durban II PrepCom, Al-Hajjaji bridled at the Belgian suggestion that Iran had not made any concrete, credible objections to this NGO's participation. Responding for Iran, she revealed how her backroom wheeling and dealing was already in full swing. Speaking publicly, she failed to disclose that the NGO had written to the UN secretariat beforehand asking for specific objections so that it could respond in a timely fashion. Instead, she said the bureau (which includes Iran) had decided Iran need not put its objections in writing in advance of the session - thus guaranteeing the NGO would be shut out when the meeting began.

Throughout the day, members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) were effusive about the chair and frequently noted how delighted they were to see her presiding. In turn, the chair thanked OIC members for "their support of the presidency." The love-in was complemented by repeated scenes of the Iranian and Palestinian delegates huddled together in close consultation. The OIC use of Durban II to mount a major anti-Western offensive is readily apparent from the speakers on opening day: OIC interventions numbered 31; interventions from the rest of the world numbered 32 - though the OIC accounts for only 29 percent of UN member states.

Throughout the farcical "human rights" meeting, the seats of the United States, Canada, and Israel were empty - each boycotted these proceedings. The members of the European Union, however, were still glued to their seats. Slovenia, on behalf of the EU, took the following positions in succession over the course of one day: We insist that a decision to accredit this NGO be taken now; we agree to wait for 48 hours before a decision is taken; next Monday (seven days away) is really our final deadline for deciding whether to let this NGO participate in this two-week session. Up against the Islamic Conference, and anywhere in the vicinity of the U.N., an earthworm has more backbone than the European Union.

One enlightening document distributed to participants was a report on the prevalence of racism and xenophobia in the world today. Here is some of the paper trail the U.N. has now contributed to the greater protection of human rights - these assessments are self-reported:

  • "Iran, as a matter of policy and practice, is opposed to any form of discrimination."
  • "Syria does not suffer from the problem of racial discrimination. . . . The phenomenon of racial discrimination does not exist."
  • "All Lebanese laws prohibit the use of violence against individuals."
  • "There are no racist actions known in the country [of Senegal]."
  • "Algeria has been at the forefront of the fight against all forms of racial discrimination."

  • Iran's delegation had the most fun. After hailing the "historic Durban conference," Iran's opening speech drew the outlines of the Durban II plan of attack:
      The emerging of new forms of racism in the aftermath of the Durban [2001] Conference, particularly after 9/11 and under the pretext of the so-called war on terror, reflects the visible rise of the contemporary forms of racism throughout the world and especially against Muslims."
    In other words, Durban II is an Islamic offensive to define Muslims as the preeminent victims of racism, at the hands of Western colonizers acting under the pretense of ending terrorism.

    Though the real agenda is no mystery, the OIC is aware of the bad optics. So Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the OIC, announced that the conference "should not turn into an anti-Semitism exercise." Unfortunately, this was not some kind of long-awaited epiphany. Pakistan, also speaking on behalf of the OIC, told the UN Human Rights Council in September 2007 that "Islamophobia is also a crude form of anti-Semitism." In other words, it's fine to include concern for anti-Semitism, provided the Semites in question are Arabs and Muslims. And despite the fact that OIC states continually stressed that Durban II must be about contemporary manifestations of racism, contemporary anti-Semitism was the last thing on their minds.

    On the contrary, opening day was a declaration of war against Jews, Israel, and the West. Once again the U.N.'s role is to promote the violation of human rights and not their protection.

    This article first appeared in National Review Online.

    April 21, 2008