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Canada dubs UN World Conference Against Racism a 'hatefest'

By Stephanie Dearing     Nov 25, 2010 in Politics
Ottawa - Canadian Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Thursday morning that Canada will not attend the Durban Conference, which focuses on fighting racism. Kenney called the conference a "hatefest."
Kenney also called the Conference a 'charade,' The event, which will be held in September 2011, will be boycotted by Canada said Citizenship and Immigration Canada in a press release. The reason? Kenney explained it this way: “Our government has lost faith in the Durban process. We will not be part of this event, which commemorates an agenda that promotes racism rather than combats it.”
Citizenship and Immigration Canada noted "Canada was the first country in the world to withdraw from the Durban 2 conference, which took place in 2009." The anti-racism conference planned for next year was decided upon by a vote at the United Nations this past week. A blogger calling himself Carl noted the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the conference - 121 for, 19 against and 35 abstentions. A spokesperson for Israel's Foreign Ministry told the Jerusalem Post the vote was "unfortunate." Israel fears the conference will be used as a forum for "anti-Israeli bashing," and Canada has also backed that fear, saying "... Canada's principled stand last year was vindicated when Durban II was used by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – the only head of state to attend – as a vehicle for Holocaust denial and xenophobia."
A United Nations review of last spring's Durban Conference called the meeting a success. "The anti-racism Durban Review Conference concluded on 24 April with a consensus on how to achieve real changes for the millions of victims of racism worldwide. Calling the successful result "a platform for a new beginning," High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged all to implement vigorously the outcome document."
After Ahmadinejad's widely publicized outburst at last year's conference, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay issued a press release condemning Ahmadinejad's speech. Pillay also commented on the nations which walked out of the conference, saying "The best riposte for this type of event is to reply and correct, not to withdraw and boycott the Conference."
The United Nations Secretary General also issued a release saying "I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian President to accuse, divide and even incite. This is the opposite of what this Conference seeks to achieve. This makes it significantly more difficult to build constructive solutions to the very real problem of racism.
... I reminded the President [of Iran] that the UN General Assembly had adopted the resolutions to revoke the equation of Zionism with racism and to reaffirm the historical facts of the Holocaust respectively."
Canada disagrees with the UN assessment of the Durban Conference. Kenney said “Canada will not participate in this charade any longer. The Government of Canada will not lend Canada's good name to the organized exercise in scapegoating that is the Durban process."
The 2009 conference was a follow-up to the first conference held in 2001. The World Jewish Congress characterized the Durban Conference as the place where "... the "Durban Strategy" of demonizing and delegitimizing Israel was crystallized." The Globe & Mail said at the 2001 Conference, anti-Israeli documents were distributed, including pictures of Hitler and the Chronicles of the Elders of Zion.
However, NGO Monitor said the 2001 meeting, which included a session of Non-governmental organizations was almost made redundant by a non-UN sanctioned splinter group who used the occasion to "undermine Israel."
The American Anti-Defamation League has also denounced the planned 2011 Conference, saying in a press release the decision to proceed was "outrageous and shameful."
Israel's iron grip on Palestine has been the source of accusations of racism against the country. Most recently, noted noted author, Alice Walker compared Israel's strategies to those perpetuated by the British Empire when it was colonizing other nations. Walker was a panelist at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which concluded in London, Britain this past week. The "people's" Tribunal seeks to promote peace and justice in the middle east.
Zionism is essentially a word which describes the ideology that drove the Jewish people to reclaim their country. However, many have equated Zionism with racism. Economist and pro-Palestinian writer, Rabee' Sahyoun wrote in 2001 "... I believe that zionism is racism, because I am a Palestinian, and without recognizing the colonialist component in zionism, I cannot explain its racist character, a western movement uprooting the native peoples of Palestine, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Samaritan alike, a people bound to their land, through centuries of raising orange groves, and herding sheep, lending grace to the Hills of God, historically, religiously and culturally."
In 1975, the United Nations had, through a resolution, said Zionism was a form of racism and racial discrimination. That determination was revoked by the United Nations in 1991.
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