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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Italy and The Netherlands announced over the weekend that they will not take part in the notorious United Nations Durban III meeting scheduled for September 22, 2011 in New York City.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini pointed out that "The [Durban] Process has been transformed ... into a tribunal for accusations against Israel."

As the main reason for boycotting Durban III the Italian foreign minister pointed to the anti-Israel elements of the Durban Declaration and its progeny. In the past few days, UN negotiators - who are currently drafting a final political declaration for Durban III - signalled rejection of Czech, Italian and Dutch proposals to denounce the anti-Israel portions of the original Durban Declaration. The Italians had asked that Durban III "explicitly recognize that past references, in the context of the Durban Process, to the specific situation of the Middle East are not part of the international commitment against racial discrimination."

According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic all wanted to include in Durban III a statement that "all participating states emphatically distance themselves from the linking of subjects that have nothing to do with the fight against racism." Their request was ignored by conference organizers, who are largely being driven by Arab and Islamist states, as well as South Africa and UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, herself a native of Durban.

This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on The Weekly Standard.

On Friday, the Czech Republic became the latest country to pull out of the upcoming U.N. "anti-racism" extravaganza known as Durban III. Canada, Israel, and the United States have already given thumbs down to the event, which the U.N. is bringing to U.S. shores on September 22, 2011. While Americans will be mourning the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the United Nations in New York will be "commemorating" the 10th anniversary of the first Durban conference an outpouring of intolerance and xenophobia.

The Czech Republic's move comes three days after U.N. negotiators quietly circulated a draft of the final declaration that will be adopted at the conclusion of Durban III. Although the writing had been on the wall for a very long time, the alarm bells could no longer be ignored. The "political declaration" focuses particularly on what it calls "victims of racism." And the Durban Declaration emanating from South Africa names only one state victimizer Israel. The Palestinian people are listed as victims of racism.

The Zionism-is-racism mantra, the Durban formula being its most recent incarnation, has been circulating around the U.N. for decades. It is the cornerstone of the effort to delegitimize the Jewish state and invoke lethal politics when other weaponry falls short. These days, the campaign is headquartered in a working group of the U.N. General Assembly that is tasked with squaring the circle: reaffirming the contemptible message of the Durban Declaration under a veil of human rights gibberish.

The Czech Republic's diplomats, however, can read. The current draft of the final declaration for Durban III says that the U.N. must "incorporate the implementation of the Durban Declaration into the human rights mainstreaming in the UN system" and demands an intensification of "efforts at the local, national, regional and international levels aimed at the full and effective implementation" of instruments like the Durban Declaration and beyond.

And there's more. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation managed to insert a demand for "cultural diversity, solidarity and harmony." That's the typical U.N. prescription for stifling free speech-avoiding any action to stop Syrian butchers, for example-and generally keeping criticism of Islamic anti-human rights predilections off the table.

The countries from the so-called non-aligned movement, which comprises 115 developing countries, have also incorporated into the political declaration a claim that "poverty," "underdevelopment," and "economic disparities" are "closely associated with racism and racial discrimination." That's a familiar form of extortion that starts by labeling donor countries racists.

The Czech Republic rightly decided they'd had enough. The next round of "negotiations," at which Western states are dressed-down and manipulated by the racism charge coming from the Islamic world and others, will be held at U.N. headquarters on July 28.

Earlier this month, Dutch diplomats told the same Durban III negotiators that the Netherlands would only agree to a Durban III political declaration that categorically rejected the part of the original Durban Declaration that singled out Israel. In the words of the Dutch diplomats, this part of the Durban Declaration was not relevant in the fight against racism. Italian diplomats concurred and said they needed to be urgently reassured that this demand would be met. On the contrary, they have been assured of the opposite. One would expect, therefore, that the Dutch and the Italians would have the courage of their convictions to pull out of this charade, but they haven't made a move yet.

Other Western states, however, are playing a quite different role, in particular Norway and Switzerland. These two countries have decided to take the lead in championing the Durban Declaration in all its manifestations and to fall in lock step with Arab and Islamic priorities.

Still other European Union countries like Britain and France have expressed a willingness to go the cover-up route, although their verbal gymnastics defy imagination. In June the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the organization of Durban III that stated: "the closing plenary meeting will comprise...the adoption of a short and concise political declaration aimed at mobilizing political will." That's an odd sentence apparently ending in mid-stream. It was the EU's idea to omit the words which came after "political will." In December 2010 the General Assembly resolution promoting Durban III referred to mobilizing political will "for the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration." When the EU floated the idea of not finishing the sentence or of incorporating a technical reference to the December resolution that nobody would read, the meeting's co-chair gave them a nod and said he appeciated their interests in subterfuge.

Whatever rhetorical devices are contrived behind closed doors, the bottom line remains: Durban III is all about commemorating an event that is forever tainted with anti-Semitism and intolerance. The admirable decision by the Czech Republic is a wake-up call for other democracies still pretending otherwise.

July 22, 2011

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July 18, 2011