By Jennifer Lipman
September 14, 2011
Political life often seems to be something of a dance, a complicated balancing act in order to offend no-one, appease everyone and commit yourself to nothing.
So kudos to David Cameron for (finally) deciding that Britain won't take part in the tenth birthday party of the Durban conference, an event supposedly about challenging racism that turned into the political equivalent of putting a kid in the middle of the playground and standing around pointing and mocking.
Cameron said he doesn't want to commemorate a conference (actually, two, the 2009 review affair was also something of a hate-fest) associated with "open displays of unpleasant and deplorable antisemitism".
Good on him. And yet, as pleased as I am, I don't want to be too optimistic.
As I said, politics is a dance.
Cameron wants the support of the Anglo-Jewish community, but he also wants the backing of all the other "political forces" as well.
At the General Assembly session, there's another controversial item on the agenda; the Palestinian plans to bid for statehood.
The unilateral move, already avowedly opposed by the White House, has been backed by many, many other groups including a number of EU bigwigs. Britain's approach to the bid has yet to be officially revealed.
The savvy politician wants to please everyone. And if he can't, what's the next best thing? Ameliorate the critics in one area because you know you're going to go against their wishes in another?
Maybe Cameron won't back the Palestinians (despite the pleas of Israel and Jewish groups worldwide) in what seems to be a largely symbolic move without any hope of helping the peace process on the ground. Maybe this is not a cynical move.
But, he wouldn't have got to this point in British politics without being a consummate dancer.