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Durban

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I spent a long weekend in Durban this summer. Its elegant suburbs, the Indian Ocean, the tropical forest descending from the heights of Zimbali down to the seashore, are heavenly. Last year’s World Cup gave it some impressive facilities as well. Durban used to conjure up proud Zulu traditions, as well as peaceful cricket matches and a comfortable, well established Jewish community. But now, to adapt Roosevelt on Pearl Harbor, the name “Durban” will live on in infamy as the name associated with distorted and corrupt racism.

The WCR, short for “World Conference against Racism Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”, was founded as a dependent body of the United Nations, after the Second World War and the Holocaust. Its mandate was to fund research on racism and to arrange international events organized through UNESCO to combat racist ideologies and behaviors. Four conferences have been held so far, in 1978, 1983, 2001, and 2009.

The 2001 conference was held in Durban, South Africa under the auspices of the United Nations. It was presided over by Mary Robinson, then the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. And it turned into a primitive hate fest, singling out Israel as virtually the sole culprit for all racism in the world. The only other issue of significance was that African-American NGOs wanted individual apologies from each of the countries responsible for slavery, recognition of it as a crime against humanity, and reparations called as such.

A separate gathering at Durban of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) turned into a well organized and orchestrated, brutal hate fest where anyone trying to defend Israel or call for proportion and balance was physically assaulted. Violations of human rights and genocide in other parts of the world were disregarded.

Canada, the US, and Israel walked out of the 2001 conference in protest of a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism. Likewise, the EU refused to comply with demands from Arab states to condemn Israel’s “racist practices”.

It was universally accepted in the free world that the 2001 conference was a disgrace and the participating NGOs had betrayed their true colors. But when a Durban Review conference (Durban II) was called in Geneva in 2009, things were little better.

Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and the US boycotted the conference. The Czech Republic stopped attending after the first day, and 23 other countries from the EU sent only low-level delegations. The western countries were concerned that the conference would promote anti-Semitism and laws contrary to free speech (anti-blasphemy laws). There were also concerns that the conference fail to deal with other issues of discrimination. The conference was also criticized by European countries for having a focus only on the West, neglecting racism and intolerance in developing nations. Nevertheless, donor NGOs were only too happy to waste time and millions of dollars on the event, which could have been better spent on humanitarian causes.

According to Wikipedia: “On the first day of the conference, Ahmadinejad, the only head of state to attend, made a speech condemning Israel as “totally racist” and accusing the West of using the Holocaust as a “pretext” for aggression against Palestinians. The distributed English version of the speech referred to the Holocaust as an “ambiguous and dubious question”. When Ahmadinejad began to speak about Israel, all the European Union delegates left the conference room, while a number of the remaining delegates applauded the Iranian President. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [in a typically lame attempt at diplomacy] expressed dismay at both the boycotts and the speech.”

The follow-up conference, Durban III, scheduled to meet this month in New York, has been boycotted by Australia, Canada, Israel, Germany and the United States (among other countries), but there is no reason to believe it will be any better or fairer.

However, this time there’s some alternative. A coalition of human rights groups is organizing The Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution to focus on the world’s most urgent human rights situations. It is scheduled to be held next to UN Headquarters in New York on September 21 and 22, at the same time that world leaders will be gathering for the 66th session of the UN General Assembly and the 10th anniversary commemoration of the UN’s Durban conference on racism.

A press release on the summit states: “Bringing together prominent dissidents and human rights activists from countries with abysmal human rights records—including China, Syria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Iran—the conference will produce draft UN resolutions on governments that grievously abuse human rights through policies of genocide, torture, discrimination, and repression of civil, religious and political freedoms. The proposed resolutions will be presented to world leaders attending the major UN events that week.”

Of course they will ignore it. I expect nothing good from the United Nations. The General Assembly is so dominated by corrupt states and by primitive hatreds that I’d rather give money to the Mafia Benevolent Fund. But what offends me and disturbs me far more are the NGOs. NGOs include the full panoply of well-known major world charities that sell themselves and raise money on the basis of their non-political missions to simply aid the poor or heal the planet. All the well known ones joined the hate fest. Most of them do indeed have a political agenda, and the overwhelming majority put as much energy into attacking Israel as they do into helping the poor and disadvantaged. Durban has proved that most NGOs are not too particular about drawing a distinction between Israel and Judaism.

Then they have the audacity to send me letters appealing for donations for humanitarian causes. For as long as any NGO is associated with the Durban Conference, I urge my readers to do whatever they can to prevent those which do participate receiving any charitable aid whatsoever. If and when they renounce Durban and its works, I might give them a second thought.

4 thoughts on “Durban

  1. Spot on, Jeremy. I don't give anything to charities like Oxfam, not because they espouse Palestinian causes but because they are virulently anti-Israel and are part of a culture of lies told about Israel.

    Any conference which allows Ahmedinejad to voice his heinous opinions deserves to be boycotted; to my mind Durban is another propaganda tool and no good has ever come of it.

    World Jewish Relief is a charity worth thinking about. Not only does it help impoverished Jews, especially in Eastern Europe, by opening centres of food and learning but it invites the local non-Jewish population to participate which can lead to better relations all round.

    Shabbat Shalom to you and yours.

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