Durban 2: Pro-Israel Backlash

April 22, 2009, 8:58 pm


By Andrew L. Jaffee

Thanks to the work of many individuals, web-logs, and advocacy organizations, it seems that the rabid wave of neo-anti-Semitism — fanned no less by the United Nations — may finally be creating a backlash of sensibility. The UN’s first so-called “World Conference Against Racism,” which took place in Durban, South Africa in 2001, devolved into an anti-Semitic, hate-fest. The second UN Durban “conference,” now under way, was ushered in by Iranian President wipe-Israel-off-the-map Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called Israelis “racist perpetrators of genocide.” HonestReporting has a great summary of a potential change in attitudes — in favor of Israel:

Stock Photos from 123RF

… The United Nations enjoys what is known as the “halo effect”, whereby, because of its supposed humanitarian focus and promotion of universal values, it is insulated from scrutiny and is regarded as above reproach by the media, which often holds international bodies such as the UN to be a reference and a guiding moral light. …

But is the “halo effect” starting to dissipate? The UN’s aura of high morality took a beating as Durban 2 gave a platform to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad. As the Dallas Morning News mused:

After all, giving the Holocaust-denying fruitcake Ahmadinejad a platform to lecture the world about racism is like inviting Bernie Madoff to headline a global conference on business ethics.

While those countries that staged a walk-out during Ahmadinejad’s vitriol are to be commended, many media outlets, particularly outside of the US and Canada, which decided to boycott the conference in its totality, have failed to grasp the significance of the final conference communique, which has been signed earlier than expected on Tuesday instead of the end of the week to avoid further controversies.

For, as the New York Times states:

While there have been improvements in the communique, as now written, it would affirm the conclusions of the last one, implicitly still singling out Israel.

The United Nations conference can never have credibility, or value, if it is used to attack one country — Israel — especially when so many other countries have truly abysmal human rights records, including China, Sudan and Iran.

In stark contrast to the UN’s tarnished integrity, The Australian noted that Australia’s quest for a temporary seat on the Security Council could be damaged by its boycott of Durban 2. However, in stark contrast to the UN’s tarnished integrity, the paper concluded:

Before Durban II, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said participants would “be judged harshly” if the conference failed. So they will be. Some nations, rightly, walked out as the Iranian President spoke. Whatever the cost of our non-participation in terms of votes for the Security Council, Australia was right to have no part of it.

Predictably, although there was almost wall-to-wall condemnation of Ahmadinejad, some media outlets expressed regret that his appearance had perhaps vindicated Israel’s concerns. The Guardian wrote:

It makes whatever desire there is within the UN to investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza that much harder to realise, as the UN as a whole is tainted by the Iranian leader’s presence at one conference.

Other UK papers, such as The Times and Daily Telegraph admonished the British government for attending Durban 2 even before Ahmadinejad’s outburst. (See HonestReporting UK for more details.)

Sadly, as Gerald Steinberg in the Wall Street Journal points out:

Once again, the obsessive focus on the Jewish state meant that the real problems of racism and genocide were largely ignored at this U.N. conference. Only outside the official U.N. antiracism conference, at well-attended “counterconferences” organized by NGOs such as U.N. Watch, did the real victims of racism and mass murder get the attention they deserved.

Only at those counterconferences could one witness moving presentations by victims of Iranian oppression, survivors of the Rwandan genocide and the continuing slaughter in Darfur.

Related: Anti-Semitism, Israel, Media/Blogsphere, Racism, United Nations (UN)

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