'Anti-Durban' event planned for New York

By Ellen Tumposky, September 1, 2011

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel will be among the speakers at a counter-event challenging the "Durban III" United Nations conference on racism in New York later this month.

The UN conference is due to take place on September 22, the 10th anniversary of the original, and notorious, event in Durban, South Africa.

The counter-conference, which is being held on the same day, is organised by the Hudson Institute, a Manhattan-based think tank, and the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

Other speakers will include former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, former Israeli UN envoy Dore Gold, actor Jon Voight and Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.

"It's an affront to anyone who cares about human rights to commemorate the antisemitic hate-fest that was Durban I," said Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro College Institute and a key organiser of the counter-conference.

"Yet shortly after New Yorkers and Americans go through the trauma of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the UN is going to celebrate the hatred and antisemitism of the first Durban conference," she said.

At that conference, which ended days before the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US and Israel walked out over a draft document which equated Zionism with racism.

"What's so appalling is the failure to recognise the relationship between hate and violence," said Ms Bayefsky. "Durban encouraged hate, antisemitism and discrimination against Israel, and terrorism follows."

Other speakers at the counter-conference will include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Ms Bayefsky said the response has been "overwhelming". It will be webcast at durbanwatch.com.

The US, Israel, Australia and Canada, among other nations, are boycotting Durban III. Ms Bayefsky said it was "appalling that Britain, who should well understand the danger of allowing antisemitism in any form to go unchecked and who is a founding member of the UN", is participating. She also denounced Germany's failure to boycott the meeting.

Last updated: 1:05pm, September 1 2011