29 February 2008

Running away from anti-Semitism

Israel has recently said nice things about Canada's misguided approach to a UN-sponsored anti-racism conference. The conference, entitled Durban II, will be held in South Africa next year.

At the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, a number of countries were offended by texts that referred to Israel as an apartheid state. Such language seems hardly out of place -- even such human rights crusaders as Jimmy Carter have applied the term "apartheid" to Israel's treatment of Palestinians. In any case, the references were removed from the final versions of the texts. Nonetheless, the Canadian government insists the upcoming conference will be a forum for anti-Semitism and is refusing to attend, a decision Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni has lavished praise upon.

So is this the way to deal with anti-Semitism? By running away from it? This is an international conference, sponsored by the United Nations, isn't it the perfect place to confront anti-Semitism? Before the world? Or can it be our government lacks the confidence it can defend Israel's treatment of the Palestinians? That, at least, is the appearance they are giving. Not much grist for the mill of anti-Semitism there.

1 comment:

  1. There is an active smear campaign being mounted by such UN haters as UN Watch and Eye on the UN (the latter created and funded by the Hudson Institute). They are the ones who refer to the upcoming review conference as "Durban II", implying that the next planned conference will be some kind of festival of anti-semitism.

    The resulting Durban Declaration and Programme of Action does not denounce Israel, deny the Holocaust or refer to the horrific treatment of the Palestinians as Apartheid.

    Here are the clauses that relate to Israel:

    “2. We call upon States, in opposing all forms of racism, to recognize the need to counter anti-Semitism, anti-Arabism and Islamophobia worldwide and urge all States to take effective measures to prevent the emergence of movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas concerning these communities.

    “3. As for the situation in the Middle-East, we call for the end of violence and the swift resumption of negotiations, respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, respect for the principle of self-determination and the end of all suffering, thus allowing Israel and the Palestinians to resume the peace process, and to develop and prosper in security and freedom.”

    ...63. We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion;

    64. We call for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region in which all peoples shall co-exist and enjoy equality, justice and internationally recognized human rights, and security;

    65. We recognize the right of refugees to return voluntarily to their homes and properties in dignity and safety, and urge all States to facilitate such return;

    66. We affirm that the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of minorities, where they exist, must be protected and that persons belonging to such minorities should be treated equally and enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination of any kind;...

    The US and Israel walked out while Canada remained at the table but complained that they did not think a conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia
    and Related Intolerance to be an appropriate venue to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Israel, US and Canada (especially under Harper) do not want to acknowledge the treatment of the Palestinians as a human rights abuse issue. They much prefer to cast it as a political conflict between two equal powers, which is frankly ridiculous. They actively vote against UN resolutions that condemn Israeli actions.

    Here is an excerpt and link to information about the upcoming Durban Review Conference 2009 (basically a progress report session):

    The Durban Review Conference 2009: Assessing States Progress Towards Eliminating Racism
    Friday, 21 September 2007

    Before the Decade dedicated to peace and children is complete, the United Nations General Assembly, at its sixty-first session in November 2006, recommended convening a Durban Review Conference (DRC) in 2009 (resolution 61/149). The Human Rights Council has been designated as the Preparatory Committee (Prep Comm) for the DRC. The review will be undertaken on “the basis of and with full respect for the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) and (on the basis) that there will be no renegotiation of the existing agreements contained therein; (and) will concentrate on the implementation of the DDPA, including further actions, initiatives and practical solutions for combating all the contemporary scourges of racism.” (A.HRC.RES.3.2) The Prep Comm held its first session 27-31 August 2007 in Geneva.

    The review of the implementation of the DDPA is of significance to ethnic minorities and Indigenous Peoples as this document provides specific measures to combat discrimination, exclusion and intolerance due to race, colour, descent, language, religion, and national or ethnic origin. The DDPA contains the formal commitments made by States to adopt a primary responsibility of combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Programme of Action encourages States to develop or elaborate upon, and implement without delay, national policies and action plans “to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including their gender-based manifestations” (paragraph 66)...