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Two weeks ago in Geneva, the UN launched a new global anti-Israel and anti-American spectacle -- Durban II. It was six years ago, on September 8, 2001, that a UN hatefest ended in Durban, South Africa. Billed as an anti-racism conference, the event gave voice to anti-Semites from around the world.
In the end, the collection of non-governmental organizations, or "civil society," as they like to call themselves, voted to label Zionism as racism and deleted only the voices of the Jewish NGOs from their final declaration. At the same time, the governments present -- the United States and Israel having walked out -- found Israel to be the only racist state on earth.
The forces behind Durban I have never rested since. They understood the UN to be the ideal vehicle to defeat America and Israel on a different, but no less crucial, kind of battlefield. The fig-leaf of an anti-racism agenda would turn the anti-Semite into a victim and the victims of anti-Semitism into thugs.
Durban supporters have spent the past six years keeping the memory of Durban I alive by creating forum after forum at the UN dedicated to its "follow-up." Though the US walked out of Durban I in disgust, American taxpayers have paid a quarter of the bill for every follow-up entity.
THE CULMINATION of this carcinogenic process was last month's kick-off of a two-year plan to prepare and convene a Durban Review Conference in 2009 -- Durban II. On the bureau or executive of the Conference preparatory committee are Libya as chair, Cuba as rapporteur, and Iran as a vice-chair.
Such UN human rights authority figures began by deciding that the first substantive session of the Durban II festivities would coincide with almost the entire Jewish holiday of Pessah, thus inhibiting Jews worldwide from attending.
Over the course of the week the European Union engaged in a gentlemanly tug-of-war with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the African regional group -- which is controlled by the OIC -- over a range of terms and conditions.
In the end, in an all-too-familiar pattern of behavior, the European Union threw in the towel -- or in UN-speak "joined consensus." In addition to agreeing that Passover was a good date to hold a conference dedicated to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, they came up with the following:
The objectives of Durban II will no longer be limited to Durban "review," but will now be anything the OIC believes "include[s] assessing contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."
Pakistan crowed about the new agenda: the phrase "contemporary forms ... allows for exhaustive discussion, to find ways to fight new forms to fight against racial profiling in the name of the fight against terrorism."
Or, as Egypt put the African group's greatest concern, the "aftermath" of 9/11 "saw a new and dangerous phenomenon in incitement to racial and religious hatred ... [T]he highly defamatory cartoons published by a Danish newspaper ... deeply hurt over a billion Muslims around the world, and threatened social harmony and peace, both nationally and internationally."
In other words, the goal of Durban II will be to increase mass hysteria over allegations of global Islamophobia perpetrated by those fighting terrorism or publishing cartoons in an obscure Danish paper.
AFTER THE train left the station, European Union diplomats shrugged off the results, claiming there was nothing they could have done. True, just doing the math makes it obvious that a controlling interest in the UN Human Rights Council, (which doubles as the Durban preparatory committee), is held by the OIC.
They compose a majority on each of the African and Asian regional groups, who in turn hold the balance of power. But instead of insisting on a vote and making clear their opposition, the Europeans lent Durban II their support and decided to go along for the ride.
It will be an expensive trip. It was revealed last week that $10.25 million was spent on Durban I, much of it coming from the EU. Instead of insisting, therefore, on some degree of control over the planning of Durban II, the Europeans capitulated at every step.
The OIC insisted that only two UN investigators be issued specific invitations to provide Durban II with recommendations for combating racism. The two preferred investigators were the UN rapporteur on racism and related intolerance (who produces an annual report dedicated to Islamophobia) and the rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. The EU then "demanded" a specific invitation be issued to the UN rapporteur on freedom of expression.
In response, here is what passes for human rights dialogue at the
UN. Egypt, on behalf of the Africans, said: "The lack of freedom of
expression, although condemnable, is not linked to racism... This
reference is political in nature and not grounded in objectivity nor
in technicality." Iran was even more to the point: "The special
rapporteur on freedom of expression ... is not acceptable."
THE FINAL result? There is no reference to freedom of expression, though the investigator on this subject may eventually squeak through the door as an "other."
Feeling empowered, the OIC and the African Group insisted on the creation of another apparatus to plan Durban II. No, they weren't thinking of spending any money on preventing honor killings or child slavery or female genital mutilation back home. The EU caved. So the UN will now create a new UN Durban II inter-governmental group to "follow up" and report to the Preparatory Committee, which is itself a UN Durban II inter-governmental group created to "follow up" and implement Durban I.
And the new UN Durban II inter-governmental group will operate right alongside the other four existing Durban I creatures, which include the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Durban Declaration on Programme of Action (DDPA) and the Five Independent Eminent Experts to follow-up the Implementation of the DDPA.
LENGTHY DEBATES were held over the rules of procedure for Durban II. After all, an all-out American and Israeli-bashing exercise needs rules. What kind of rules? "Amendable" ones, they decided. Eighteen pages of rules were adopted, with a glorious mixture of sources, all labeled "provisional" "that can be discussed" -- in the words of the Libyan chair -- "until the doors open on the first day of the conference in 2009." Which leaves the controlling interests at the council able to change the rules of the game to suit themselves at will.
Mob-rule would be a more accurate description.
Following a short bout of EU huffing and puffing, it was agreed that funding for all the preparations should come from the UN regular budget, the vast majority of which comes from Western states.
Funding for Durban II itself is still up in the air pending a decision about the venue. The EU is "insisting" that it be held on UN premises, such as Geneva or New York. The OIC and African Group have other ideas and are dead-set against New York as the site. They are apparently worried there are too many Jews in the vicinity.
ONE DECISION that sailed through will grant the right to participate to every NGO that was permitted to attend Durban I, unless governments raise objections in the absurdly short time frame of 14 days -- now less than a week away.
Quality NGOs expected, therefore, to grace Durban II include the "Ahali Center for Community Development," which objects to Israel's Declaration of Independence and the proclamation of a "Jewish state"; the "Women Association, Follower of Ahlul-Bait," which advocates "We must put an end to Zionist racist crimes"; "Human Rights Monitor, Iran," which disseminates documents alleging "the racist policies of the Israeli government are an extreme form of racism and discrimination..."; and "Palestinian Human Rights Organization," which refers to Israel in quotation marks.
Another UN-accredited NGO that will be entitled to participate is the International Islamic Relief Organization, which recently had its Indonesia and Philippines Branches put on the US Treasury Department's Specially Designated Nationals List for "facilitating fundraising for al-Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups."
UNFORTUNATELY, this is not theater of the absurd. It is the screenplay of a global institution that spends the money of democracies on measures to defeat democracy, uses the language of human rights to promote anti-Semitism, and turns the victims of terrorism into the enemies of peace and security.
Israelis have long expected the worst from the United Nations, whether it is hiding video evidence of the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, arranging human shields for Hizbullah terrorists, condemning every Israeli move in self-defense as a violation of international law, or deliberately perpetuating an Arab refugee problem for six decades.
In this respect, Durban and its progeny are no different. Durban I, however, was not only raw anti-Semitism under UN auspices. It was a toxic mix of hatred from all sides -- human rights non-governmental organizations, democratic countries, state sponsors of terrorism and racists from around the planet.
Three days after Durban I ended, terrorists blew up the World Trade Center. Hate and terror go hand-in-hand. And the inauguration of the UN's Durban II just threw a steak at the beast.
Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and editor of www.EYEontheUN.org This article appeared September 9, 2007 as an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post
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