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.
The original Durban Conference spawned myriad “follow-up” activities set to culminate in Durban II — or the Durban Review Conference, as it is officially called. The Durban apparatus has become the primary vehicle for the G-77, the institutional mouthpiece of the developing world, to tar all Western democracies, and especially Israel, with the brush of racism. The unique phenomenon of the U.N. world conference attracts thousands of members of nongovernmental organizations, diplomats from all 192 U.N. member states, observers, media, educators, parliamentarians, and heads of state. U.N. rules of engagement lend themselves to the process of turning such creations into the perfect storm: Conference rooms are filled with naïve human rights do-gooders unable to distinguish between governments bound and unbound by the rule of law, despots who fear freedom, manipulative gangsters who enjoy chaos, racists and anti-semites who relish intolerance, and governments whose sole aim is to shout racism in a crowded place to divert attention from the refuse festering underneath their soapboxes.
Durban II promises to raise the clash against civilization to new levels of hypocrisy and to inflame racial and religious intolerance the world over. The rallying cry of the U.N. mafioso this time will be “Islamophobia.” At the U.N. Islamophobia is not invoked to mean legitimate objection to discrimination that wrongly targets people of the Islamic faith. It has become a code word for hysterical accusations that Western democracies are engaged in a phony war to end terrorism as a ploy to subjugate Muslims everywhere. Mindful that the best defense is a good offense, Pakistan (on behalf of the 56 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)) made the following announcement on opening day of the first Durban II preparatory meeting held this past August. “The defamation of Islam and discrimination against Muslims represent the most conspicuous demonstration of contemporary racism and intolerance…It is regrettable that the world media has allowed defamation and blasphemy in this form…” With that, they marked the kick-off of an aggressive campaign to curtail freedom of expression under Durban II auspices.
And until they encountered Mark Wallace, they were poised to get away with it. On December 19, 2007, U.N. officials produced a document on the “programme budget implications” of Durban II. Such PBI’s, as they’re called, are intended to ensure that U.N. member states are fully appraised of the financial consequences of decisions taken. The G-77 was so confident of their ability to shove anything down the U.N. drain that this PBI was unique. It said theU.N.could provide only a guesstimate that the bill for Durban II preparations would be somewhere around 6.8 million dollars, but don’t hold them to it: “The Committee recommends that the General Assembly should take note of these preliminary estimates. Upon the conclusion of discussions and negotiations and the determination of the structure of the Durban Review Conference, including the regional preparatory meetings, detailed information on financial implications will be submitted.” Ambassador Wallace characterized this brazen attempt to ignore even the most minimal rules of fiscal responsibility as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
These votes can mark a turning point on two key multilateral fronts. First, it could mark the beginning of the end of the U.S. willingness to pour billions into the U.N.regardless of the organization’s corruption, mismanagement and failure to reform. Second, in view of the other 39 votes against Durban funding cast by Europe, Canada, and Australia, it could mark the end of Western confusion in the face of the overarching U.N. foreign-policy strategy of the G-77 and the OIC: hyping fraudulent moral outrage.
At the very least, this vote sets down clear markers for Congress to follow the lead of the U.S.-U.N. mission — to ensure that Durban financing is immediately eliminated from any appropriations of American taxpayer dollars to the U.N.
— 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 EYEontheUN.org