Voting Against Hate
A few nights before Christmas, at the U.N.


Anne Bayefsky

At the United Nations of the 21st century there are precious few moments of moral clarity. Saturday, December 22 at 12:35 A.M. was one of them. 12:48 A.M. was another. On behalf of ordinary decent Americans everywhere, Ambassador Mark Wallace, U.S. Representative for United Nations Management & Reform, said “no” to U.N.-driven anti-semitism and attempts to decimate Israel on the political battlefield.
At 12:35 A.M. Wallace, together with ambassadors from another 39 U.N. states, voted against using U.N. money to pay for “Durban II” — a 2009 conference to be modeled on the infamous racist anti-racism conference held in Durban, South Africa six years ago. At 12:48 A.M., having lost the vote 94 to 40, the representative of the U.N.’s single largest donor voted alone against the U.N. 2008-09 regular budget because money for hatemongering had been included.

Durban I ended three days before 9/11. I happened to move to New York City directly from Durban on September 9, 2001. It was hard to miss the connection between the global forces of hatred overflowing the streets and the meeting rooms of one city and the consequences of hatred and fascism in the other city 72 hours later. Israel and the United States walked out of Durban I, and Ambassador Wallace told the U.N. General Assembly Saturday morning that the U.S. refused to pay for “revisiting an event that was noxious to my country and a disgrace in the international community.” Wallace understood exactly what revisiting Durban means. He understood that poisoning relationships between cultures, races, and religions poses an enormous threat to international peace and security and the genuine protection of human rights.

Durban I, for instance, included invitations to Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat to rabble-rouse before U.N.-accredited audiences. Durban I featured demonstrators carrying signs such as “for the liberation of Quds machine guns based upon faith and Islam must be used” and “the martyr’s blood irrigates the tree of revolution in Palestine.” Durban’s Jewish cultural center was shut down because the police deemed the crowds too threatening, while the only session on anti-semitism was terminated after a swarm of conference-goers broke in yelling “you are killers, you are killers.” The daily handouts on the tables of the government conference included “down with the Nazi-Israeli Apartheid.” In the end, the nongovernmental organizations decided Zionism is racism, while the governments declared Israel was the world’s sole practitioner of racism.

But Israel and the Jews were not the only targets of the Durban mobs. The United States and European governments also found themselves directly in the crosshairs. Arab states ranted about the history of Western slavery — as if they had no recollection of their own long and undistinguished record of enslaving black Africans. Zimbabwe screeched about Western racism — as if Mugabe wasn’t one of the world’s most prominent aficionados. Muslim states howled about Western racial intolerance while millions of migrant workers continue to languish in the rat holes of Saudi Arabia, and religious and ethnic minorities are tortured and repressed across the Middle East.