Where is Europe in the fight against UN-sponsored anti-Semitism?

The UN’s forthcoming anti-racism event, Durban III, will be a hotbed of anti-Semitism. But the leading European countries still seem determined to attend.

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Benjamin Weinthal
On 7 August 2011 07:26

The United Kingdom, Germany, and France -- to name just a few EU countries -- are moving forward with their slated participation in the notorious Durban III anti-racism conference in New York City, a UN-sponsored event on September 22 that will single out Israel for attacks.

Sadly, a conference that seeks to combat hate has codified loathing of the Jewish state in its founding Durban I document.

The tenth anniversary celebration of the UN anti-racism conference, dubbed Durban  because that South African city hosted the first gathering in 2001, has become the poster boy for modern anti-Semitism.

The main political declaration from Durban I, which also formed the basis for Durban II, held in Geneva in 2009, targets only Israel as a violator of human rights and lists the Palestinians as the victims of racism.

The 2001 conference was marred by a tsunami-wave of Jew-hatred, including scores of South African Muslims holding banners titled “Hitler should have finished the job.” NGOs circulated literature with the equation “Nazi-Israeli apartheid.” In short, Durban was the opening salvo in a global campaign to delegitimize the existence of the Jewish state.

All of this helps to explain why Jason Kenney, Canadian minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, called on Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights who will be overseeing Durban III, to “stop the process and realize that the poison at Durban I has placed the entire process under a permanent cloud.”

Canada's  government was the first Western country to pull the plug on  participation in the 2009 Durban II conference, as well as the upcoming 2011 event.

In a reference to the 2009 conference, Kenney said that “a conference that gives a platform to [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to advocate genocide is a sick joke.”

The United States, Israel, the Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic are also staying away from Durban III.

Yet ,despite a pledge from  major EU countries such as the UK, France, and Germany to “intensify efforts to combat anti-Semtism in all its manifestations” in the “Berlin Declaration,” the three countries remain wedded to Durban III.

(The “Berlin Declaration” was the result of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's conference on anti-Semitism in 2004.)

Germany is in an especially peculiar situation because it is the only European country that proclaims Israel's security interests to be integral to its own.

The German Foreign Ministry said in late July: “In the context of the international racism conference, [Germany] works to ensure that no individual countries are separately pilloried.”

But that is precisely the point of the Durban process, namely, to  pillory Israel.

The mere mention of Israel in the Durban document as the only human rights violator reveals the disparate treatment applied to the Jewish state.

In fact, if Germany had sought to give meaning to its “special relationship” rhetoric with Israel,  it would have replicated Canada's admirable example to be the first country to walk away from the whole thing.

The UK, Germany, and France—as well as the other signatories to the “Berlin Declaration”—now face a modest litmus test for the fight against UN-sponsored anti-Semitism.

Will they stand on the right side of the human rights agenda? Or will they abdicate their responsibilities entirely?

Benjamin Weinthal is a Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The author also has a summary of Durban III in this week's Jewish Chronicle.

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