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Durban: A Circus of Calumny

Durban: A Circus of Calumny

By means of the disgraceful conference in Durban, history has given us, the Jews, a sign. And we had better learn how to decipher it.


The conference in Durban will go down in history as an enterprise of disgrace. Instead of being an important international conference that expresses goodwill, the conference has been turned into a circus of calumny.

What began as an idea for a world gathering against hatred has turned into a meeting of hatred characterized by wickedness. I was supposed to have been there. Both Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson did their utmost to persuade me, particularly in light of my membership on the small board of "very important persons" that the UN established to help with the preparations. But after I read the work papers, I quit.

Anti-Semitism, the oldest form of racism against a certain group in the world, did not appear in the program. What did appear was something about "holocausts such as the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the Israelis."

Mary Robinson phoned me a number of times. I had lunch with the UN secretary general, whom I have known for years. I explained to both of them why I could not take part in this event, which is so infuriatingly anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish.

They said they would make changes in the phrasing, but the problem was with the content. I warned the UN secretary general that the conference and the manner in which it had been prepared would go down in history as a moral catastrophe of the political and social behavior of the world's nations. All that because the content was wholly unadulterated hatred and cruelty, whose expressions ought to outrage any decent and cultured human being and cause them to behave as did American Secretary of State Colin Powell and his colleagues. They deserve praise and support for their courageous response. The American and Israeli delegations left; others did not. If only the European and South African delegations had learned from them. Their explanation is that they would work from within to issue another draft of the resolution. It is too late. The damage has already been done.

Hatred is like a cancer. It spreads from cell to cell, from organ to organ, from person to person, from group to group. We saw it in action in Durban. Even a man of the stature of Kofi Annan somehow lost his way and said things that were inappropriate for him.

The conference in Durban will be remembered as a forum that was governed not by anti-Israelites but by anti-Semites.

With the scandal of Durban in the backdrop, how can the world expect of Israel to trust the United Nations? And how can good people, idealists, have faith in the UN's mission to unite countries in an atmosphere of respect?

The conference in Durban will be remembered as a forum that was governed not by anti-Israelites but by anti-Semites. The fact that militant Palestinians hate Jews -- that is known already. One needs only hear the various Islamic leaders and read the books printed by the Palestinian Authority: They preach hatred and violence, not against Zionists but against Jews. Their slogan, naked and brutal and identical everywhere, was keenly felt and even heard in Durban: "Kill the Jews."

What is painful is not that the Palestinians and the Arabs voiced their hatred, but the fact that so few delegates had the courage to combat them. It is as if in a strange and frightening moment of collective catharsis, everyone removed their masks and revealed their true faces.

By means of the disgraceful conference in Durban, history has given us, the Jews, a sign. And we had better learn how to decipher it.

September 8, 2001

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Visitor Comments: 26

(25) Noel Petzer, February 6, 2006 12:00 AM

Conference was Hypocritical

As a citizen of Durban, South Africa, I made a point of going around to watch the conference. What I found incredible amusing was the demonstrations. They were obviously organized and preplanned, very few of the people in the demonstrations were actually locals.

When I walked past one group they were obviously intimidated by me, though I did nothing to them, other than laugh at them. They were also terrified of the local police presence, our cops take no prisinors if you mess with them. They were obviously from wealthy backgrounds (many were driving the latest Mercs and BMW's), and they carefully set there demos up so that the press would not see that.

Personally I am not Jewish, but my Great Grandmother (my Mothers Grandmother) was a German Jew. So I regard anti-semitism with a vague sense of disgust, but not the sense of outrage that a Jewish person would feel.

Those foregners did our city, and our country a great disservice.

As a South African I was disgusted that we live in a country where directly to the North of us a racist dictator lives, who dilbrately has followed a scorch earth policy towards ethnic minorities in his country, yet no one said a thing.

Sheer Hypocrisy at its most laughable.

(24) Anonymous, September 16, 2001 12:00 AM

Elie Weisel has said it all.

The Durban Conference was a farce. Instead of eliminating intolerance, it did just the opposite.

(23) Joshua Grace, September 12, 2001 12:00 AM

US Attacked

In the aftermath of the attacks yesterday those here in the US have been angered at the blatant disregard for life. What a shame that it takes this to open the eyes of the press and public to the Islamic terror that has plagued our allies in Israel. May our countries use this tragedy to steady our nerves and brace ourselves to commit to the terrible fight that is in store.

(22) Tor Marius Gauslaa, September 11, 2001 12:00 AM


I feel ashamed of the hatred and lies against you, also from our "christian" nations. Have we learned nothing of history? Looking forward to the day when Z'kharyah 8,20-23 will be a fact: "We want to go WITH you, because we have heard that God is with you". And when God is with you, who can then be against you.
Shalom from friend in Norway
Tor Marius Gauslaa, 4790 Lillesand

(21) steven leanse, September 11, 2001 12:00 AM

The events of today in New York and Washington D.C. shows that the world needs this horrid type of sign to reveal the truth and face of the evil elements. Sad that they could not be so well observed by others as Mr. Wiesel and the US Secretary of State could at Durbin.

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