Journal des Alternatives

DURBAN:

Israel Won The Battle, Anti-Racism Lost

Michael Warschawsky, 28 April 2009

Representing the Alternative Information Center at the Durban Review Conference on Racism of the UN held in Geneva on April 20-24, I was the only Israeli-Jew participating at this important gathering. Here are some of my impressions.

Between Durban II and Durban I there is no more in common than between the First Intifada and the so-called Second Intifada, i.e. absolutely nothing.

The UN Durban I Conference, held in South Africa in 2001, was a powerful statement by almost all the nations of the world against racism, and in spite of some marginal anti-Semite incidents, an extraordinary outcry of the international civil society. In fact, Durban was the last international demonstration of the decolonization era that started with the defeat of Nazi Germany and the awakening of the colonized nations.

Durban I was also the starting point of a global counter-reform launched by the big powers, under the leadership of the US and Israeli Neo-Conservative administrations. That counter counter-offensive used the terrible accusation of anti-Semitism as its battle flag, and a permanent blackmail to paralyze any potential opposition.

The Durban II Conference Against Racism was supposed to review the implementation of the Durban I decisions. In reality it was its planned assassination and funeral. The State of Israel and the USA played the leading role in that extremely well planned maneuver, with the assistance of some of the European Countries. For three years, at least, they have been working hard to fix new guidelines for the conference, “the red lines” as they were labeled, mostly aimed to avoid any criticism on Israel, that in Durban I was indeed singled out in both the States and the Civil Society conferences. One must remember that 2001 was the year of Sharon “Defense Shield” murderous offensive on the Palestinian people, and the targeting of Israel was the direct and natural result of the massacres in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

One of the main “red lines” was the decision not to mention any specific case of racism (sic), neither the victim group nor the perpetrator, and to limit the Statements to general denunciations of racist practices. In addition, the usual parallel NGO Forum was cancelled, replaced by a very small “Civil Society Forum” imposed by some brave and efficient NGO’s and held before the State’s Conference. Unlike previous UN Conference, the NGO resolution was not read at the State’s Plenary, replaced by individual statements of selected NGOs.

After having imposed their Red Lines, the US and Israel boycotted the UN Conference!

The final resolution of the official Conference was not bad in its content, but powerless, due, as mentioned before, to the decision to make no mention of specific victims and States perpetuators.

Even the most critical journalists had to admit that in Geneva there was not even a shadow of anti-Semitic statement or act, and in order to continue the campaign of de-legitimacy around the accusation of anti-Semitism, the Israeli propaganda machine had to falsify the speech of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who according to the official protocol and the Secretariat of the UN Conference, didn’t pronounce at all the negationist words on the Jewish Genocide widely attributed to him by the media. A mere and rude fabrication manufactured by the Israeli-US lobby “UN Watch”. The very fact that UN Watch didn’t hesitate to add a paragraph to the speech of the Iranian President confirms how far the US-Israeli lobby was ready to go in order to de-legitimize the UN Conference on Racism, and the UN in general, by using the terrible accusation of anti-Semitism.

In the Civil Society Forum, their tactic was different, knowing that the one used in the State’s Conference wouldn’t work. Different but not less efficient. They used part of the African delegation to marginalize the Palestinian issue and neutralize its centrality by mixing it with other crisis throughout the world, in particular the Darfur massacres. Inciting Africans against Arabs by the demagogic arguments: “aren’t you fed-up to be ignored, and marginalized by the Palestinian issue?” and “Is Darfur less painful than Palestine?”, the Israeli-US campaign managed to create great tensions in the NGO Forum.

Though Israel boycotted the Conference, it was nevertheless omnipresent: 1,500 young Jews organized by UN Watch, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Union of Jewish Students and Bnei-Brith were sent to Geneva, and literally conquered the place. Their aggressive presence and the omnipresence of Israeli Security guards created a climate of occupied territory, both in the UN venue and its close vicinity and in the city of Geneva, where several mass rallies were held, with the participation of prominent figures like Elie Wiesel, Nathan Charansky and Alan Dershovitz, repeating the lying mantra on an “anti-Semite Conference”.

A country whose constitutional laws are blatantly racist and whose Foreign Minister is Avigdor Lieberman cannot participate bone fide in an international conference dedicated to the denunciation of racism, it can only try to sabotage it, and if it cannot cancel it, to boycott. The State of Israel did both, and one must admit, successfully. Let’s hope that in Durban+10 Conference planned for 2011, the true anti-racist States and organizations will be better prepared and braver to promote a world without racism and discriminations, a world based on true equality between all peoples and nations, where the Liebermans and the Berlusconis will be a sad reminiscence of the past.

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