Durban II: a sick, cynical farce

How can a UN ‘human rights’ conference vilify Israel while not mentionaing Iran, Islamic terror or genocide in the Sudan?


A few days before 9/11, the UN hosted an appalling explosion of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred at an obscenely named “human rights” conference in Durban, South Africa.

While the worst of these gross libels and Nazi-style caricatures were expressed by the NGOs attending the conference, the official governmental declaration also made its underlying anti-Israel agenda clear.

Cursory references to antisemitism and never forgetting the Holocaust were tossed in as a trade-off for singling out the “racism” of Israel, which was responsible for “the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation”. There was no mention of the gross Jew-hatred and mass murder of Israelis by the Palestinians. Instead, an equivalence was drawn between antisemitism and Islamophobia. But equating a prejudice based on irrational hatred with a defence against that hatred effectively denies the true prejudice of antisemitism while sanitising and validating those who perpetrate it.

Next April, there is to be a re-run of this hate-fest at another UN conference, to review progress in implementing Durban I. Accordingly, despite its being held in Geneva, this is being referred to as “Durban II”. This too is shaping up to be a vicious and racist onslaught against the human rights of the Jewish people. Its draft declaration singles out Israel for vilification. It accuses it of committing “apartheid”, a “crime against humanity” and “a form of genocide”.

It says the Palestinians are the victims of Israeli oppression, implies that Zionism itself is racism, and calls for the end of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and (as in Durban I) for the “right of return” for Palestinians, which would mean the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

There is no mention of any Arab or Muslim denial of human rights; no mention of the genocide in the Sudan; no condemnation of Arab states — including the putative state of Palestine — for being barred to Jews; no condemnation of the Iranian threat of a second Holocaust. Worse, the declaration attempts to brand all discussion of Islamic terrorism as “racism” or “xenophobia” and so to shut it down, as well as similarly declaring all counter-terrorist surveillance of Islamic institutions to be “defamation of Muslims”. In other words, the claim that Durban II is about human rights is merely a cynical ploy. It is nothing other than a platform for Jew-hatred and Islamic intimidation.

Israel, the Netherlands and Canada have said they will have nothing to do with Durban II. Everyone else is being utterly pathetic. Britain, America and others are teetering on the edge of withdrawing but are pursing their lips while playing “wait and see”. So, too, is the leadership of Britain’s Jewish community.

The Jewish Human Rights Coalition (UK) says it is trying to negotiate changes to the declaration, which is only in draft form. If the offending passages are not removed, it says, it will then urge the UK government to pull out. This is grievously to underestimate the true nature and scale of this monstrosity. The very fact of negotiating with such people is grotesque. Would Jewish leaders negotiate with, say, Nazis or Holocaust deniers or the Ku Klux Klan to get them to tone down their noxious claims?

One reason the JHRC gives for doing so is the “huge numbers of young Jews around the world who want to engage as Jews with a genuine human rights agenda”. These are the kind of people, however, who think the UN can do no wrong — that it was hijacked at Durban by a few horrible NGOs and can be shepherded back to decency. But there is no “genuine human rights agenda” at the UN; it has been hijacked not by the NGOs but by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the body representing the world’s Islamic states.

That’s why — surreally — the Durban II preparatory committee is chaired by a Libyan, Najat al-Hajjaji, with Iran as the vice-chair, Cuba as the rapporteur and other major human-rights offenders such as Russia and Pakistan also among its members. In short, the UN has turned “human rights” into their antithesis — and specifically into a weapon to destroy the right to statehood of the Jewish people.

Last month, the UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said Israeli policies amounted to apartheid and “must be outlawed” and met by a “campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel”. It is the UN and the architects of Durban II who are the racists and murderous bigots. Negotiating with them at all merely gives them legitimacy. For those committed to genuine human rights, there is only one option. Denounce this sick farce, and pull out now.

Melanie Phillips is a Daily Mail columnist

    Last updated: 4:37pm, December 30 2008