Monday, November 21, 2011

Bayefsky - Durban III - back again at the UN General Assembly

Anne Bayefsky
Eye on the UN
November 21, 2011
For Immediate Release

In yet another effort to demonize Israel on the political battlefield, the UN General Assembly—which can bear a striking resemblance to the game of Whac-A-Mole—will adopt a new resolution this week to promote the Durban “anti-racism” declaration.

Back in September the UN sponsored “Durban III,” an event intended by Islamic states and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to breathe new life into the ten-year-old anti-Israel vendetta which began in South Africa in 2001. Despite the unprecedented boycott by all Western veto-holding members of the Security Council – the US, Britain and France – Durban and its insidious message have popped up a mere two months later.

The regenerative nature of UN armaments, in the form of cyclical resolutions and “follow-up” mechanisms, makes them not merely annoying but dangerous. Battles that are won must be fought again and again.This is particularly true of the libelous 1975 UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, which was revitalized in the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA), accusing only one state among all UN members of racism – Israel – and casting Palestinians as the victims of Israeli bigotry.

By all accounts – except the one emanating from the UN press office – Durban III failed to deliver the credibility boost that its fans were craving. In a strong rejection of the Durban III political program, 14 nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States and, of course, Israel all boycotted. A simultaneous counter-conference held directly across the street from the UN, involving Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and a bipartisan group of Jewish and non-Jewish luminaries, mounted a resounding historic challenge to the UN campaign.

The UN response, however, has been to rewrite history. On September 22, 2011, at the opening ceremonies of Durban III, South African President Jacob Zuma fictionalized the original conference, saying “in Durban the world spoke with one voice” – notwithstanding the very public departure of the United States and Israel. A few hours later, the General Assembly adopted a “political declaration,” “reaffirming” the DDPA and calling the declaration “United against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” Today, the UN website says of Durban III that “world leaders adopted by consensus a political declaration,” paying no notice to the fact that the world’s leading democracies had already voted with their feet.

The UN has even issued a document titled “frequently asked questions” which purports to answer charges of UN discrimination against Israel. Ironically, it confirms the worst.

Question: “Why is Israel the only member state mentioned in the DDPA?” Answer: it is “a reflection of the international concern about the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian situation.” In other words, spotlighting Israel, and what the DDPA labels Palestinian “victims,” is properly part of an “anti-racism” manifesto.

With the transcripts of Durban III now available and the UN spin-masters hard at work for the vote this week in a “follow-up” to the event, the details of what actually took place on September 22 warrant exposure.

The day was comprised of three parts: an opener in the General Assembly Hall, two roundtables and a closing session summarizing the day’s output. Only six state representatives were selected to speak during the opening session. The 55 states in the African group chose Sudan – a country whose president has been indicted by the UN’s own International Criminal Court for genocide.

Here is a sampling of what Durban’s enthusiastic supporters contributed over the course of the day:

The foreign minister of Tunisia, co-chair of one of the roundtables, said that the Durban anniversary provided an opportunity “to highlight…first and foremost, the Palestinian people” so as to avoid “exacerbating intercultural tensions.”

The foreign minister of Iran ranted about “the racist Zionist regime” while proclaiming the DDPA to be “one of the richest record of achievement of humanity in today’s world against racism.”

The Lebanese minister of foreign affairs denied the meaning of anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is not known in the Arab world because Arab nations are Semitic.” He then manifested his own anti-Semitism by objecting to the “Jewish character of Israel” as “contrary to any vision of a future based on peace and tolerance.”

The Syrian UN ambassador complained about “unpleasant practices in our region” – by which he didn’t mean his own government’s habit of butchering its people – but “the racist concept of a ‘Jewish state of Israel,” “the Facist racism of Israel” and “the mass racist violations by Israel.”

Durban III was also a golden opportunity for countries to attack the West, undermine democratic freedoms and play dress-up as a human rights advocate:

The deputy foreign minister of Cuba railed against “subjugated” Palestinians and against institutionalized racism “in Europe and North America.”

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania hailed Durban’s “significant achievements, in particular, condemning slavery,” and Mauritania’s stellar record of following Durban’s directions – despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are enslaved in Mauritania and that its government jails anti-slavery activists.

The Saudi Arabian “undersecretary for multi-relations affairs” never showed up, but, in an extraordinary breach of protocol, the UN uploaded his “speech” to the Durban III site anyway.
Here are the words of the world’s leading practitioner of gender apartheid and the country which criminalizes public displays of religion other than those of Islam: “Islam calls upon us to refrain from offending other religions and faiths;” “the Kingdom established…agencies that call for the spread of human-rights culture;” “freedom of speech should never be used as a tool for injustice;” and “the highest degree of racism and discrimination…the clearest illustration of such comprehensive racial discrimination lies…against the Palestinian people.”

Durban III also had its carefully-orchestrated non-governmental message. NGO participants had to be vetted and only those NGOs not vetoed by a UN member were permitted to attend. Organizations dedicated to eradicating discrimination against Dalits,sometimes called untouchables, were barred from this anti-intolerance charade. The one individual chosen to represent all of civil society in the main opening session could be counted upon to condemn the United States. Sarah White of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights denounced racism in America where, she said “black workers are still…forced to work under conditions that look a lot like slavery.”

The UN meticulously chose ten of the 88 registered organizations to speak at the roundtables. Here’s why:

The American Civil Liberties Union opened with “We thank you for the opportunity to call attention to racial discrimination in the United States.”

The “December 12 Movement International Secretariat (US)” claimed the United States was guilty of “undermining the development of over 40 million black people in its borders” and “the forced under-development of African people within the US.”

The director of the “Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination” appealed to the UN for help in implementing the DDPA “on behalf of all US counter-intelligence-program-era political prisoners and persons currently held on US racist death rows across the country.”

In fact, the only specific state directly criticized by the UN’s hand-picked NGOs in a global anti-racism conference was the United States.

At day’s end, with grand aplomb back in the General Assembly Hall, Prime Minister of Swaziland Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini summarized the contributions of Durban III. In two contiguous sentences, he managed to lay bare the twisted dishonest UN game. “Several speakers referred to…the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. The importance of not singling out a specific region or country was also emphasized.”

In short, Durban is not a “united” front against racism, but a divisive anti-Semitic and anti-Western bonanza. Nevertheless, the Durban license for intolerance continues.

Only a month later, the UN’s “Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the DDPA” met in Geneva to produce recommendations “on the role of education in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” They began with a draft set of recommendations which mentioned the Holocaust. They ended on October 28, 2011 with the Holocaust having been excised.

Their initial draft said the UN should: “encourage Governments to ensure that textbooks and educational materials reflect accurately historical facts, in particular with regard to…” among other things, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Holocaust. What happened?

As soon as negotiations began, the EU demanded that all specifics be deleted – anything after the words “historical facts” – because the list “looked like a Christmas tree” and “will introduce a hierarchy of victims.” The EU was unhappy about being the target of the trans-Atlantic slave trade reference and was unperturbed about ditching the Holocaust along with it.

The rest of the negotiations consisted of various parties demanding additions and subtractions to the list that would be unpalatable to others so that, in the end, the no-list argument prevailed. In the final minutes, Belgium and Turkey made a deal to incorporate a reference back “in particular” to the “list in paragraph 99 of the DDPA,” which names only “slavery, the slave trade, the transatlantic slave trade, apartheid, colonialism and genocide.”

There was plenty of indication that reference to the Holocaust was an uncomfortable subject at a Durban “effective implementation” meeting. Russia said that they wanted to add “other crimes committed by the Nazis” because “the Holocaust was just one of these crimes that had its own name,” while Senegal, on behalf of the African Group, complained “why do we have the word Holocaust when it doesn’t exist in paragraph 99 of the DDPA?”

Evidently, Durban “follow-up” is the fruit of a very poisonous tree.

All of this brings us to the present and the latest resolution now before the General Assembly, which promotes the DDPA along with Durban III. Last year, when the Assembly decided to hold Durban III, not a single Western member of the UN voted in favor. With Durban III over, however, the push is on to win back the fickle Europeans and move them at least into the abstention column. France and Britain boycotted when the prospect of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Iran and Syria at an “anti-intolerance” affair would have been publicly embarrassing. But pushing forward the already-existing handiwork of Iran and company might be easier for anemic diplomats and could possibly be overlooked. After all, the vote will take place in the recesses of the organization and will not be webcast.

The UN formula for propagating moral confusion and delegitimizing the Jewish state? Just wear down the opposition.

For more United Nations coverage see

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears in Monday's The Jerusalem Post.

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