Durban II Double Standard
Discussions of anti-Semitism are silenced, while Iran's benevolence remains unquestioned.


Anne Bayefsky

The Organization of the Islamic Conference has spent years dominating U.N. proceedings, and Durban II — the centerpiece of the U.N.’s alleged “anti-racism” crusade — is their progeny. By the end of the week, it was with genuine exasperation that the Egyptian representative coined a new word: “Durbanophobia.” A couple of days ago he came up with Arabophobia. And we already know about the worldwide plot hatched in the Oval Office, Downing Street, and the basements of evil Danish publishers, called Islamophobia. Now there is a plot against a harmless group of diplomats who just want to hang out together and shmooze about human rights.

In contrast to attempts to speak about anti-Semitism, nobody thought to interrupt Iran’s declaration that it plays a leadership role in the battle against discrimination. Did you know that the state whose president has advocated modern-day genocide by wiping out Israel “is fully committed to eradicate any policy based on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and has actively struggled against this phenomena at national, regional and international levels”?  In fact, “in order to promote access of all people to social justice and to eliminate discrimination” Iran has just created “a special committee to deal with cases of discrimination.” Presumably, the women stoned for alleged adultery, and the homosexuals hanged and strung up on cranes in public places need not apply.

Meanwhile Algeria had the neat idea of misrepresenting the language of a U.N. resolution in order to beat the anti-Semitism-is-us drum. They declared “resolution 64 of the Human Rights Council of February 1994 requests consideration of ‘discrimination against Blacks, anti-Semitism including discrimination against Arabs and Muslims, xenophobia, negrophobia and related intolerance.’ ” Actually, the resolution requests examination of “any form of discrimination against Blacks, Arabs and Muslims, xenophobia, negrophobia, anti-Semitism and related intolerance.”

The fabrication was particularly preposterous in light of the fact that back in 1994 — I was a member of Canada’s U.N. Human Rights Commission delegation at the time — it was an OIC member that insisted “anti-Arab and anti-Muslim” be added before the word “anti-Semitism” so as to create the appearance of a hierarchy. And every member of the OIC refused to vote for the paragraph that contained only a reference to anti-Semitism.  But then historical revisionism at the U.N. is an old favorite.

A representative of Syria announced: “first of all, I should like to draw your attention to the fact that my country in general does not suffer from problems relating to racism.” It so happens that Syria has had a declaration of a state of emergency since 1963, which effectively suspends constitutional rights. But that didn’t stop the “distinguished representative” from announcing there is no racism in Syria because “the constitution Article 25 insists on the fact that freedom is a sacred right and guarantees individual freedoms for all citizens. It swears that it will protect their interests.” Durban II participants also learned that this conduit for Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon “has set up a national commission on international humanitarian law entrusted with the task of coordinating and sensitizing public opinion to human rights and humanitarian law principles.”

The nonstop campaign by Islamic states against freedom of expression has been most striking. Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic conference, claimed “the most serious manifestation of racism is the democratic legitimization of racism and xenophobia. . . . When it is expressed in the form of defamation of religion it takes cover behind the freedom of expression and opinion.” Algeria was “deeply alarmed by . . . a selective and politicized reading of human rights and fundamental freedom exemplified by the ideological preference given to freedom of expression to the detriment to other freedoms. . . . It is indispensible [sic] for these practices to be condemned and outlawed and their perpetrators no longer enjoy impunity by ideological use of freedom of opinion and expression. . . .” [Who knew Algeria supported the Fairness Doctrine?]

Durban II preparation is not just another U.N. opportunity to distort, fabricate, and confuse. The assault on the actual protection of human rights has left the station and is now barreling along with U.N. money on U.N. premises. A newly created “working group” will start to prepare an “outcome document” in a few weeks’ time.

Hope for a united Western front against this assault is now being placed on France’s ascension to the EU Presidency in July, raising the prospect of the EU joining Canada, the U.S., and Israel in the unambiguous rejection of Durban II. Judging from its gutless behavior to date, however, it will take an earthquake to move the EU from its beloved U.N. turf. The lessons for future American foreign policy are considerable.

– Anne Bayefsky is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. She also serves as the director of the Touro Institute for Human Rights and the Holocaust and as the editor of


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