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Canada, Netherlands, Israel, U.S. snub UN anti-racism conference

By Adriana Stuijt     Mar 2, 2009 in Politics
Neither Canada, the US, Israel nor The Netherlands will attend the forthcoming United Nations anti-racism conference in April. They say the first one in 2001 in Durban 'degenerated into expressions of intolerance, hate speech and anti-Semitism."
see The Dutch demand that the current hate-speech passages against Israel be scrapped from the concept-documents of the forthcoming anti-racism conference before they'll even think of attending.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said that while Canada participated in the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerancee in South Africa, it will not attend a followup event in Geneva in April 2009.
Dutch foreign affairs minister Maxime Verhagen also said this week that he would not be present at the Durban II anti-racism conference "if Israel-bashing again is going to the the main theme as it was at Durban I.'
The Dutch warned that if the current text of the concept-document for Durban II did not scrap its current 'anti-Israeli passages,' the Dutch government would not attend. This text describes the Israeli actions as 'a new form of apartheid, crimes against humanity, a form of genocide, and a serious threat to world peace.' The conference would also be asked to confirm that they 'express deep sympathy and regret towards the Palestinians.' There is however nothing in this text, which is being defended by the Islamic Republic of Iran, about the rockets also being lobbed into Israel from Palestinian territories, targeting Israeli civilians.
United Nations' member states are already finding themselves once again in a heated dispute over how to properly address the Israel-Palestinian conflict in the context of racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination.
The accreditation committee has already decided that all the previous non-governmental organisations which caused so much racist mayhem in Durban in 2001, are automatically readmitted again. And the accreditation process is also deliberately barring any organisation which may be 'pro-Israel'.
US President Barack Obama’s administration was also not going to participate -- however a senior US official said the White House 'would announce its intention soon." Many Western countries now are awaiting the lead from the US before also withdrawing from the conference, including Australia, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The Dutch have already decided on their own not to go.
The US administration sent two representatives to Geneva during negotiations on the draft document being prepared for the conference. The administration hoped it would succeed in getting anti-Israeli references dropped from the document,
The first conference in Durban, South Africa was littered with anti-Semitic sentiment and declared Israel one of the racist states in the world. The Bush administration chose not to participate in the first conference but Obama decided to attempt discourse in order to try to change the final wording of the document set to emerge from the conference.
The US was hoping that the declarations made in Durban in 2001 would be stricken from the record and another document prepared, from which criticism against Israel and the period of slavery in the US would be absent.
Any criticism of Islam would be 'a criminal act'...
However Obama's representatives were unsuccessful in imposing change, and the 100 clauses in the document still include many racist references to Israel - in fact new passages were added also rendering any criticism against Islam a criminal act.
The current concept-document for the Geneva anti-racism conference also bemoans the 'rise in Islamophobia since 2001,"- with Islamic countries such as Iran pushing to include language regarding the 'defamation of Islam' as a crime against humanity and human rights violations. (see UN-video above regarding Iran's support of inserting a Holocaust-denialist debate).
A number of non-governmental organisations, backed by Iran and other Islamic-ruled countries - put through a their 'final" declaration which again condemn Israel with words such as "apartheid", "ethnic cleansing", and "acts of genocide". And a great many anti-Semitic cartoons and hate-speech books which were circulated at the Durban I forum - accompanied by statements that were equally anti-Semitic, are scheduled to show up again at the Geneva conference in April, critics say.
To express their protest against this, Israel and the United States left the Durban conference in protest in 2001. Nevertheless, in early 2007, after the UN General Assembly had decided to hold a follow-up conference, Israel announced that it will take part in the Apr. 20-24, 2009 "Durban II" - as it is sometimes referred to - as long as there was no similar anti-Israel atmosphere. However it has since withdrawn.
"It was perfectly predictable - and preventable," Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog affiliated with the American Jewish Committee, said. "There is no country in the world that would want to willingly subject itself to a kangaroo court where it is demonised and delegitimised," he added. see
Canadian foreign affairs minister Bernier concurred, noting that 'the [first] conference degenerated into open and divisive expressions of intolerance and anti-Semitism that undermined the principles of the United Nations and the very goals the conference sought to achieve," the statement read.
Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity, said the 2001 conference was "a circus of intolerance" that Canada will not support a second time.
"Our considered judgment, having participated in the preparatory meetings, was that we were set for a replay of Durban I, and Canada has no intention of lending its good name and resources to such a systematic promotion of hatred and bigotry."
Canada's delegation to the 2001 conference issued a statement of reservation on its final declaration, which included a statement of concern for the "plight of Palestinian people under foreign occupation." The 2001 document stopped short of directly condemning Israel.
At the time, Hedy Fry, the head of Ottawa's delegation to Durban, castigated the conference for what she characterized as attempts to de-legitimize the state of Israel — largely by Arab and Muslim countries. Consequently, the Canadian delegation disassociated itself from all text in the document referring to the situation in the Middle East.
Kenney cited numerous examples of how the upcoming conference "has gone completely off the rails," including the election of Libya as chair and the appointment of Cuba to vice-chair and rapporteur. Iran was nominated onto the organizing committee.
holding important meetings on Jewish high holidays
He also slammed the ploy to schedule important pre-conference meetings on Jewish high holidays - deliberately preventing participation by Israeli officials.
"We've tried to influence it (the forthcoming conference in Geneva) so that we would not revisit the overt expressions of hatred which came out of the original conference," said Kenney. "But we unfortunately ran into a brick wall."
In efforts to stop the islamic-driven anti-semitic hate-speech from overwhelming this year's conference again, a group of 94 NGOs - including Human Rights First and the American United Nations Association - pledged to "reject hatred and incitement in all its forms, including anti-Semitism, to learn from the shortcomings of the 2001 WCAR."
Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights advocate, also published a position paper on the Durban Review Conference. It called on participants to avoid "a repeat of the conduct that so marred the 2001 conference" - especially the singling out of Israel as the focal point of hostility. '
However the opening shots for the sounds which can be expected to emanate from the Geneva anti-racism conference have already been fired: Mourning 'the rise in Islamophobia since 2001, Muslim countries are pushing to include language regarding 'defamation of religion' - especially of Islam - in the Durban II outcome document. see
Undoubtedly, anti-jihadist Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who refers to the Q'uran as a 'terrorism manual for islamic world domination' and wants it banned in the Netherlands, will get the full blast in April.see
More about Durban anti-racism conference, Geert wilders, Snubbed four countries, Durban
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