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Durban 2 Hatefest

Durban 2 Hatefest

A statement by Anne Bayefsky at the Third Substantive Preparatory Meeting of the Durban Review Conference.


April 17, 2009
United Nations, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

The eyes of millions of victims of racism, xenophobia and intolerance are upon YOU, the representatives of states and the United Nations. And instead of hope you have given them despair. Instead of truth you have handed them diplomatic double-talk. Instead of combating anti-Semitism you have handed them a reason for Jews to fear UN-driven hatemongering on a global scale.

The Durban conference -- allegedly dedicated to combating racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance -- will open April 20th on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler without agreement on even so much as remembering the Holocaust and the war against the Jews. Your draft words on the Holocaust -- the very foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- have been narrowed to the barest mention from previous versions. And if the minor reference survives at all -- it will be a testament to your interest in Jews that died 60 years ago, while tolerating and encouraging the murder of Jews in the here and now.

The face of modern anti-Semitism IS the UN.

Furthermore, the draft before you demonizes the Jewish state of Israel and then has the audacity to pretend to care about anti-Semitism in a single word buried among 17 pages. Anti-Semitism means discrimination against the Jewish people. Since it is evident that almost none of you have the courage to say it, the face of modern anti-Semitism IS the UN -- your -- discrimination against Israel, the embodiment of the Jewish people's right to self-determination.

Over and over again we have heard a massive misinformation campaign about the content of these proceedings and the draft before you. We have heard the tale that this draft does not single out Israel, that the hate has been removed, that the fault of the anti-Semitism at Durban I was that of NGOs while states and the UN were blameless.

Perhaps you think that journalists and victims will not bother to read for themselves the Durban Declaration adopted by some governments. There is only one state mentioned in it -- Israel. There is only one state associated with racist practices in it -- Israel. And yet the very first thing that this draft before you does is to reaffirm that abomination, abomination for Jews and Arabs living in Israel's free and democratic society, and for all the victims of racism ignored therein. Lawyers call it incorporation by reference when they hope nobody reads the small print. The propaganda stops here. We have read it. We understand the game. And we decry the ugly effort to repeat the Durban agenda to isolate and defeat Israel politically, as every effort to do so militarily for decades has failed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chair of this Preparatory Committee also told us this week that the Durban Declaration in all its aspects is a consensus text. Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the Canadian reservations made in Durban in 2001 which state categorically that the Middle East language was outside the conference's jurisdiction and not agreed. Perhaps they failed to notice that one of the world's greatest democracies, the United States, voted with its feet and walked out of the Durban I hatefest. The Durban Declaration has never represented a global consensus among free and democratic nations. When the head of the Islamic conference treats Durban as a bible, in their words, it is more accurately a defamation of religions.

This week you decided which states ought to serve in a leadership role at next week's conference. Among them are some of the world's leading practitioners of racism, not those interested in ending it. You have also decided to hand a global megaphone to the President of a state which advocates genocide and denies the Holocaust.

So in a state of shock and dismay we address ourselves not to the human rights abusers that glorify the Durban Declaration or its next incarnation, but to democracies -- and we ask: Will Germany sit on Hitler's birthday and listen to the speech of an advocate of genocide against the Jewish people and grant legitimacy to the forum which tolerates his presence? What about the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the Magna Carta? Or France that helped to ship last generation's Jews to crematoriums?

You could have fought racism. You chose instead to fight Jews. You could have promoted the universal standards against racism already in existence. You chose instead to diminish their importance in the name of alleged cultural preferences. You could have protected freedom of expression. You chose instead to undermine it by twisted concepts of incitement. You could have brought victims of racism together in a common cause. You chose instead to pit victims against each other in an ugly struggle for meager recognition.

For those democracies that remain under these circumstances you are ultimately responsible for what can only be called an appalling disservice to real victims of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance around the world.

April 18, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Tonna Chavez, April 24, 2009 12:13 PM

history repeating itself

So many things happening all at the same time, and too quickly...not only around the world, but in our own country. I don't know whether people are merely being distracted by all of the activity and changes (purposefully, in my opinion). or if they are actually choosing to look the other way, not wanting to see the truth that is right in front of them. Regardless, so many things seem to be being set into motion for history to repeat itself...this is becoming a very scarey situation. So many of our world leaders, including our own president, are doing very little to stand up to those that would have Israel wiped off the face of the earth. The president of Iran spews his hatred & evil...silence. The presidents of Cuba & the like have not only spoken their hatred but, acted on it as well. Once again...the writing is on the wall...& so many of the leaders of the world are silent. or worse yet....indifferent.

(7) Shmuel Zev, April 22, 2009 10:03 AM

Passover and Durban

Rabbinic literature contains a powerful Passover message relevant to the Durban conference. Pharoh revealed his diabolical plot to annihilate the Jews to his three top advisors, Yithro Bilaam and Iyov (Job). They all reacted in very different ways. Yithro did not want any part of this evil, so he fled from Pharoh’s ministry and left the country. Bilaam enthusiastically supported the plan. Iyov was silent. G-d paid all three back in kind. Bilaam was eventually killed by the sword of Joshua. Yithro was rewarded by being accepted by the Jewish nation, and becoming the respected father-in-law of Moses. Iyov was punished by loosing family, health, and wealth. Apparently, silence is not an appropriate response. Kudos to those nations that walked out of this vile conference. One can only hope that they will maintain their strength of character in the future, as their national sense of morality is under attack by rouge regimes. Shame on those who actually embraced and applauded the racist speeches of Anti-Semitic governments. Do these spineless representatives think their countries will not one day feel the flames of hate and bigotry directed to them? Lastly, the silent ones, who do not feel the injustice or simply do not react. What type of morality do you espouse, if you can sit peacefully and listen to the ranting of a determined world leader who is espousing genocide? Do you not know how to groan when financial insecurity or other national difficulties affect you? Do you expect the world to ignore you in times of need?

(6) Dvirah, April 22, 2009 9:31 AM


Perhaps the saddest thing in all this is that the many true victums of "racism, xenophobia and related intolerance" who are not Jewish don't even get a hearing. We at least have learned to speak up for ourselves - who speaks for them?

(5) T. M. Cohen, April 22, 2009 6:38 AM

Anti Semitism is not new and will continue

As the gemara says "Halacha, Esav Soneh L'Yaakov" "It is a law that Esav Hates Yaakov" Therefore until G-d sends the Mashiach and demotes the star of Esav, anti-semitism will continue. It is a universal law and not Suprising. What may be suprising is at Durban II when the president of Iran rose to speak, a number of representatives of western countries rose and walked out.

(4) Yerachmiel Elimelech, April 20, 2009 1:10 PM

Durban II is Outrageous

Thank Prof Bayefsky for writing this statement, and thank you for publishing it. It is completely outrageous that the world is allowing this hatefest against Jews to continue. Jews and non-Jews should be standing up with outrage! Jews in particular should follow the proceedings carefully. If you had any doubt that anti-semitism is alive and well world-wide, you need only to watch follow this conference to see that anti-semitism is alive and well.

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