Debunking Durban

Honest Reporting on the failed UN Race Conference

The Editor
06 September 2001 E-Mail this page to a friend

Even traditionally anti-Israel publications, such as The Guardian (UK), joined in the near-universal condemnation of the Durban conference. After dispensing with the Guardian's standard Israel bashing, columnist Linda Grant unleashed surprising criticism at pro-Arab groups, accusing them of undermining the Palestinian cause.

(1) THE GUARDIAN (UK) - Hate-Hate Relationship

"[A]dhering to the belief that Zionism is racism does not necessarily absolve you from being virulently racist yourself. Jews who have been active in movements such as don't fight racism with more racism...
Peace Now and Gush Shalom, engaged in what we hoped would be constructive debate about finding a just settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, have already come across some of the anti-Jewish racism which has been pervading the Durban racism conference all week...

"A very simple truth has emerged out of the debacle of the Durban conference: that you don't fight racism with more racism, and, unfortunately, as the conference revealed, the "Zionism is racism" doctrine is fostering a climate of increased racial prejudice. You have to ask how the disgraceful treatment of Jewish (and not just Israeli) delegates, the breaking up of meetings, or the hate literature has aided the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in any way -- or whether it has tarnished and weakened their cause."

(2) THE IRISH TIMES - Kevin Meyers

"[T]he dismal charade in Durban, where Israel alone is being singled out for attention as a racist state... is such an absurdity, such a contradiction of the living, breathing truth, that one is almost lost for words, as one would be if one had to rebut the accusation that Saudi Arabia is too tolerant of public lesbianism. Two minutes in any Israeli street will tell you of the racial complexity of the modern Jewish state; and any doubts about how broadly Israel defines Jewishness were rebutted by the vast airlift of the coal-black Falashas from Ethiopia 20 years ago... I am absolutely sure that no Israeli government has ever broadcast anything to compare with the virulently genocidal and anti-Semitic filth emanating from its neighbours."

(3) THE AGE (AUSTRALIA) - UN Reaps Its Bitter Harvest

"[T]he condemnation of Israel [is] all the more repellent, since Israel is the only Middle Eastern nation whose political and legal structures can seriously be claimed to reflect those principles [of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights]. This is not to say that Israel is blameless in its treatment of the Palestinians, or that the Palestinians have no right to a state of their own. But it does mean that the equation of Zionism and racism is unconscionable, and that the conference's main achievement has been to dramatise the gulf between the declared ideals of the UN and the willingness of some of its forums and many of its member states to adhere to those ideals... UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said that the General Assembly's resolution condemning Zionism as a form of racism was a low point in the organisation's history. That resolution has been repealed, but sadly, its destructive legacy continues."

(4) FINANCIAL TIMES - Deadlock in Durban

"When Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, opened the event in Durban, he urged the delegates not to pick on any one country or region. His words apparently fell on deaf ears. accuse Israel of racism without mentioning neighbouring Zimbabwe, is absurd...

All efforts so far to prevent Israel from being singled out for particular censure have failed... That is not to say that Israel's policies towards the Palestinians cannot or should not be criticised. The Palestinians have real grievances and few forums in which to express them. But to accuse Israel of racism without mentioning Russia's actions in Chechnya, for example, or China's colonisation of Tibet, or even government-supported racist acts in neighbouring Zimbabwe, is one-sided and absurd. The trouble is that from the start the conference was hijacked by special interest groups and the problem was compounded by a lack of clear focus and good preparation...

"Now the US and Israel have quit the conference. They made little effort to use diplomacy to change the conclusions and their predictable departure has soured the atmosphere. They might as well not have attended at all."

(Note: The Financial Times is mistaken that "little effort" was made. Months of U.S. and Israeli diplomatic efforts attempted to forestall the anti-Israel resolutions.)

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