Expose this ignorant bigotry

By David Conway, January 6, 2011
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This September will mark not only the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but also that of another event no less portentous in what it presaged for Israel, although this escaped notice at the time.

This was the (first) United Nations Conference on Racism, held in Durban days before the attack on the Twin Towers.

When, later this year, New York commemorates their destruction and the deaths of the thousands working in them on that fateful day, the city will be preparing to play host to a third Durban conference. It acquired that dubious honour after a recent vote by the UN General Assembly to hold the event there on September 21, the day before its own annual opening.

If, as in previous years, heads of state attend the UN's opening session, those attending the forthcoming Durban conference are likely to find themselves addressed by Iran's President Ahmadinejad. He addressed last year's annual opening session, as he did the second Durban conference held in Geneva the year before.

Durban III attendees will take comfort in the progress of their anti Israel plans

Judging by what he then said about
Israel - plus what was earlier said about
it at the first Durban conference - any
further remarks Ahmadinejad makes at September's New York conference will go down well.

However quickly buildings go up in New York, it is unlikely that he and others who attend Durban III will be able to admire the 14-storey mosque planned for the vicinity of Ground Zero, with its façade seemingly consisting of a multitude of cascading Stars of David.

But the Iranian president and other Durban III attendees can take comfort at how well the campaign to delegitimise Israel unveiled at Durban I is going.

When that conference ended, attending NGOs issued a declaration calling for, among other things, a tribunal "to investigate and bring to justice those… guilty of war crimes… in Israel… the launch of an international anti-Israel… movement [and for] the international community to impose a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state."

That Israel does not warrant the NGOs' campaign is beside the point. Indeed, it is doubtful that even the most enthusiastic campaigners believe their own rhetoric about it. Consider, for example, what was said by the Secretary General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, an organ of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the UN's single largest voting bloc.

Speaking at a conference in Rabat in 2002, he stated: "The crimes against humanity committed by Israel have reached an extent of oppression, injustice, and aggression that humanity has never witnessed, neither in this age nor in previous ages." It is hard to exceed that hyperbole or believe it to be genuinely meant.

As Hitler's Minister for Propaganda knew, however, a lie repeated often enough becomes believed. Over the years, the campaign launched at Durban has steadily gained traction. On the surface, it is targeted exclusively at Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. In reality, it is directed against Israel's existence.

As quickly and decisively as Israel rebuts alleged "eye-witness" reports of atrocities with which it is charged, the NGOs from which these allegations emanate produce fresh ones.

To mitigate their damaging effect, their true provenance and objective needs unmasking. Those levelling the allegations are not genuinely concerned about human rights. Otherwise, they would pay less attention to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and more to the indiscriminate attacks against its citizens, as well as the numerous graver atrocities routinely perpetrated elsewhere across
the world.

Nor can their true aim be to improve Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

Otherwise, the allegations would not have intensified as Israel has shown willingness to concede ever more for the sake of peace.

Those behind the campaign are mostly Arab Islamists, intent upon seeing their religion prevail, especially wherever it once did, or left-leaning Westerners for whom Israel represents all they abhor - a scientifically educated, technologically advanced people who refuse to relinquish their religion and traditions for the rootless cosmopolitanism that ultra-leftists seek to foist upon all humanity to recreate it in their image.

Were the general public better informed about these matters, fewer would be gulled into supporting the campaign or willing to tolerate political leaders who are.

Unless more can be made aware of them, too many will discover too late that what they let happen to Israel now threatens their own societies.

David Conway teaches philosophy at the University of Essex

    Last updated: 11:03am, January 6 2011