Controversy reigns over the UN’s anti-racism conference. Delegate Rosalind Preston explains why she’ll be there:
For me there was never any doubt. How could we not be present at a conference where the Jewish world in general and Israel in particular is expected to be vilified and demeaned?
Following months of highly professional lobbying of our own government at the highest levels, coupled with our unbroken attendance at preparatory conferences, a consensus began to emerge. The UK insisted that unless changes were made, its own attendance could not be guaranteed. As a consequence, the final text is radically altered, with much hateful language removed.
My fear is that there will be an attempt to re-introduce language referring to Israel as an apartheid state, equating Zionism with racism and excluding Jews as victims of racism. The announcement that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to attend intensifies concerns. Critics say that with Iran as the vice-chair of the conference organising committee, his presence effectively turns the UN into an enabler of genocide.
In Geneva the UN will learn that the Jewish world has not forgotten the outrageous events of Durban when the NGO Forum descended into anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel rants.
I hope that the 2009 Review Conference will address the suffering of millions of people around the globe, victims of many forms of racism, and enable us to contribute to that debate, as well as fighting the long and bitter battle against antisemitism.