HRGs, prominent figures to battle Durban 2 agenda

Posted: April 14, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Human Rights, Israel
Tags: , ,

An "anti-Israel" demonstration at Durban I

An "anti-Israel" demonstration at Durban I

Over forty Human Rights Groups, as well as several prominent figures will fight the agenda of Durban 2 conference on racism. The conference, which – like its predecessor – seems to concentrate on Israel, likely to ignore most other human rights abuses around the world. Several demonstrations will be held in protest of conference’s anti-Zionist agenda.

One of the organizations behind the summit is UN Watch.

Established 15 years ago, UN Watch’s mission is to monitor the performance of the United Nations “by the yardstick of its own charter”. UN Watch is heading a coalition of numerous non-governmental organizations that will attempt to prevent Iran, Cuba and other countries from hijacking the conference’s agenda.

Prominent members of the Jewish community, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Eli Wiesel, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and former prisoner of Zion and Israeli minister and Natan Sharansky are expected to attend a number of events that will be held on the sidelines of the ‘Durban II’ conference, which will kick off on Sunday.

As part of the effort to raise public awareness to the issues of discrimination and racially-motivated torture, an event dubbed the “Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy” will be held a day before the “Durban II” conference convenes.

Invited speakers include survivors of the genocide in Rwanda and former dissidents from Iran, Cuba and Myanmar.

In the meanwhile, Israeli VP Silvan Shalom will head the ‘March of the Living’ – an annual march to the doorstep of Auschwitz extermination camp. One of the goals set by the organizers of the march this year is to counter the racism conference:

A part of the march will therefore be dedicated to countering what march organizers have called a gathering of “anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers” in Geneva.

“The Durban committee that is preparing itself today in Geneva is an anti-Semitic committee that is pushing forth pure hatred, racism,” Shalom said.

“The previous Durban conference only proved to us that there isn’t enough memory, awareness or memorialization of the lessons learned in the Holocaust,” he continued. “It is upon us to constantly work to remember the Holocaust, and that although the Jewish people were the first to suffer from the destructive hatred of anti-Semitism, they won’t be the last to be affected by hatred. The March of the Living is our opportunity to make the saying ‘Never again’ become a reality.”

It is about time someone fought the conference. Several states – including United States, Canada, and Italy – are still to decide on their participation in the conference, while criticizing Durban 2’s single-sided agenda.

  1. How didn’t Israel talk? Again, since 1993 Israel gave up lands – about 13% of West Bank – gave Palestinian money (besides the money they received in international aid) and gave them guns. How did this help? If you look at statistics, the more Israel gave the more violence it got.

    I’m sorry, we’re ready to talk. We are not ready to talk to people who call of destruction of our home and murder of us all.

    And once again, Palestinians did have the chance to finish the occupation of Jordanian lands, but they didn’t want to do it.

    And maybe people in the US or in Europe forgot costs of war. We are constantly being reminded of it – for example, the war Lebanon started with Israel in 2006.

  2. owlminerva says:

    what is the point of organizing something with people that all agree with you? How is that going to diminish the hatred between those that hate each other? The problem is the inability to see each other’s perspective. I don’t think Isreali realize how this occupation looks from an arab point of view. Or maybe they do and they don’t care. Arabs don’t understand either the perspective, history and psychology of Israeli. Without talking to each other and attempting to look at each other as human beings nothing will get solved. On the contrary, it will lead to more bloody conflicts and wars and the loss of valuable life.
    I don’t think that Israel has ever been serious about peace with Palestinians. They did withdrew from gaza a few years ago, but still mananged to hold gaza strip in a stranglehold, and actually continued to build settlements in westbank. I don’t know if you realize that giving up gaza means nothing if you do it to hold on to westbank. Settlement building on Westbank has never stopped. Which is why a lot of people believe Israel has no intention to give up anything.
    I don’t know. I see a lot of violence in the future. Not because it is impossible to talk, but there is no willingness for it. Maybe people have forgotten the costs of war.

  3. That is why I believe Western countries should have such conference of their own – seem logical to me, if you ignore one, make another one.

    I am all for talking. I do believe there are moderate Muslims with whom you can talk. The problem is, that the hatred among many Arabs is much deeper and you can’t fight it. Can you really talk to people, whose parents dressed them as suicide bombers and who see anti-Semitic, Jew-murdering ‘children’s’ TV shows?

    I might be inobjective here, however, there is much less hatred in Israel than among the Arabs. The fact is, that Israeli Palestinian have lots of liberties here. Israel’s being accused for what it’s doing to the Palestinians outside of Israel, however, none of this would happen if Yasser Arafat wouldn’t waste $4.5 billion into terrorism, but would use it to build civilian infrastructure instead; would agree for creation of Palestinian state during the 2000 Camp David and Taba negotiations.

    There are many problems with Israel. Many, many problems. But you can’t talk to someone who hates you for being a Jew – we tried doing this since 1993, gave up territories, weapons, money – all to nothing.

  4. owlminerva says:

    I don’t know. The angrier the muslim world justifiably becomes the more antisemitic they unjustifiably will become. I am not denying that there is a lot of arab antisemitism, but not talking to them about it is not helping. We all knew Ahmadinejad was going to make a fool of himself. I think it was insane to let that idiot open the conference as it diminished the conference tremendously. But some of the anger directed at israel is justified. Like some of the anger at the arabs is justified. That anger has to be expressed. Before both side’s anger deterioarates in even more antisemitism and islamophobia.
    My worry is that this whole charade with iran is giving israel even more excuse to ignore the problem (that is what they have been doing for the last 41 years, they expand and expand and don’t realize this expansion is at the expense of another people).
    Again, Israel should not be singled out. Each country has its own issues with racism. But staying away from a forum where these things can be debated is very foolish. All this spectacle will only lead to more hatred. Talking is the only solution. There are a billion muslims in the world. We will have to learn to live with them. And they with us. It’s not going to be easy because there are big differences. But all this boycott and idiocy is playing in the hands of those that don’t want to get along.

  5. Thank you, you precisely point out the issue: Durban 2, the anti-racism conference, will be used to demonize and bash Israel, instead of actually talk about racism – that’s what happened during Durban 1. Fine, there are problems with Israel. Is it worse than 400,000 Darfurians murdered since 2000 (versus 5,000 or so of Palestinians killed)? Is saying Holocaust never happened (Ahmadinejad; protesters at Durban 1) helps solve racism issues?

    I’m not even mentioning the calls for murder of all Jews at Durban 1.

    No one ignores problems in Israel. Israel tries to tackle its problems and the fact is that Israeli Palestinians have much better lives than their peers in most Muslim countries – where they are governed by their own race and religious priests.

    Talk is good. Talk can solve problems. However, going somewhere, just to demonize someone does not help ‘talk’. It promotes hatred. That’s the reason so many states decided not to attend Durban 2.

  6. owlminerva says:

    you are not going to tackle racism by excluding those countries that practice it from a conference on it. I do not believe any country should be singled out, however, I still do not believe that staying out of it is productive. The message it sends out is that we can’t talk to each other. Maybe israel is happy with such a message. But I am not. There are serious problems with israel in the middle east. You are not going to solve them by ignoring them. Also, a lot of people are justifiable angry with Israel. That has nothing to do with antisemitism and all with how Israel is treating Arabs in Israel and the occupied territories. Israel should sit down and talk. Just like any other country should.

  7. owlminerva, hi.

    I believe you have got the issue wrong. Reason for Western countries boycotting Durban 2 is not defamation of religious issue or protest about Israel’s policies. The problem is that: a) Durban one eventually was not about racism but about bashing Israel, some protesters outside simply calling to kill all Jews, and to eliminate state of Israel. Arab states used Durban 1 platform in order to spew accusations at Israel and Israel only. Also, Durban 1 all but completely ignored massacres all over the world (yes, including Darfur), while solely bashing Israel throughout the conference; b) some major representatives and organizers of the conference (like Iran), who practice racism and racial defamation and Holocaust denial on a day-to-day basis, will certainly use Durban 2 to attack Israel, while – again – ignoring other massacres all over the world. I understand how Palestinian issue is pressing for people, especially after Israel’s Gaza operation. However, should the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which, say, 5,000 Palestinians died since October 2000, be the main issue, while over 300,000 Darfurians died since 2003? (And have I mention that in recent Arab League summit in Doha, both Iran and Palestinian PM Abbas defended Omar al-Bashir – Sudan’s president currently accused of war crimes?)

    Above is the main reason for the West boycotting Darfur 2. While racism is an issue we should all take on, yet, using such conference to diminish one country by countries practicing racism – is hypocritical and the West is correct to ignore it. What should be done instead, is that those Western nations could come up with their own conference on racism, where issue of Israel and Palestinians would be discussed as well, but would not be above all other issues.

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