We applaud President Biden for ordering a U.S. boycott of the upcoming UN commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the infamous Durban Conference. While presidents George W. Bush and Obama ordered similar actions when such commemorations were scheduled in the past (none coincided with the Trump presidency), continuing that tradition is obviously vital now with anti-Semitism spiking around the world. By our count, eleven countries are opting out of the September 22 Durban event. They include the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia, Germany, the UK, Hungary, Austria, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
In 2001, the UN General Assembly convened The World Conference Against Racism, Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, ostensibly to uncover and explore racism around the world. However, the Durban, South Africa, event was hijacked by Muslim and Arab states and non-governmental organizations, and turned into, as aptly described by the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, “a blatant anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate fest.” UN Watch characterized it as “the worst international manifestation of anti-Semitism in the post-war period.”
Yet the plan is for the attending heads of state and government at the opening meeting of the General Assembly on September 22 to participate in a formal celebration of the 2001 conference and its role in the fight against racism.
Unfortunately, many well-meaning people fail to grasp the problem. If one were to review the official declaration marking the conclusion of the Durban Conference, there is virtually nothing there that would suggest what really happened in Durban. The only things that came close was a reference to “the plight of Palestinians under foreign occupation,” and a reference to “the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent state.”
As reported by UN Watch, anti-Israel rhetoric dominated during the course of the conference. For examples, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat spoke of the “ugliness” of “Israeli racist policies and practices against the Palestinian people.” Cuban dictator Fidel Castro spoke of “the dreadful genocide perpetrated, at this very moment, against our Palestinian brothers.” So-called scholarly articles and purported studies filled the record.
However, little of this was reflected in the final Durban declaration because of the protests of some European Union participants. But it mattered little. Ongoing news accounts of the conference had already dutifully reported the repeated condemnations of Israel by speaker after speaker and the written submissions. And there was something else also in play perhaps even more noteworthy – certainly more insidious.
According to UN Watch, The UN sponsored a parallel “NGO Forum” where non-governmental organizations (NGOs) formally declared Israel to be a “racist apartheid state of genocide.” The Arab Lawyers Union, a major participant, distributed caricatures of Jews with hooked noses, fangs dripping with blood, clutching money. Jewish human rights activists were physically intimidated and threatened with mobs screaming, “You don’t belong to the human race.” And outside the NGO gathering, its organizers orchestrated a Palestinian-led march of thousands, with one placard reading “Hitler Should Have Finished the Job.”
All of this was fully reported by the media as part of its coverage of the official UN conclave. So it’s small wonder that the Durban Conference became a significant symbol of the UN’s ongoing anti-Semitic/anti-Israel cabal. Which makes all the more odious the plan to commemorate it next month, lending unwarranted credibility and legitimacy to the original Durban conference.
We are not unmindful that boycotting the proceedings will mean, as it has on prior occasions, that the boycotters’ position doesn’t get heard. But to our mind, avoiding suggesting anything positive about the 2001 Durban farce supersedes all else.