The Corner

Palestinian Statehood and Durban III

Two United Nations–sponsored anti-Israel events will coalesce this week, and are largely — and mistakenly — being treated as separate developments. The first is the Palestinian Authority’s move to secure recognition as a new member state of the United Nations by circumventing the negotiating peace process with Israel. The second event is Durban III, the infamous U.N.-sponsored anti-racism conference.

There are important interconnections between the reckless, unilateral Palestinian statehood bid and Durban III. In short, both events seek to deny Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state.

The U.N. anti-racism conference, which was dubbed “Durban” after the South African city where the notorious 2001 event took place, has earned a global reputation as a vehicle for stoking anti-Semitism and racism. A sizable number of Durban I conference participants openly championed Hitler’s destruction of European Jewry, and sought to modernize and extend his lethal anti-Semitism to Israel. A telling example was the scores of banners in massive street demonstrations reading, “Hitler should have finished the job,” and handouts with Hitler’s face asking, “What if I had won? The good thing: There would be no Israel.”

All of this helps to explain the interplay between the PLO’s goal of creating a state and government incorporating the terror group Hamas — whose goal is the abolition of the Jewish state — and the commemoration of an anti-racist conference with a hate-based U.N.-sponsored agenda.

In 2009, the second act of Durban took place in Geneva, where Iran’s Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used his U.N. stage to call for the obliteration of the Jewish state and voice crude expressions of Holocaust denial.

Fourteen countries from the 193 U.N. member nations have pulled the plug on their participation in Durban III because the event is infected with racism, xenophobia, and modern anti-Semitism. Canada, to its credit, was the first Western democracy to announce in 2010 that it would not attend. The other countries boycotting the incorrigibly reactionary Durban event are the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Australia, Germany, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Bulgaria, and, naturally, Israel. Other European democracies such as Spain, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and others have abandoned enlightened democratic values and are moving forward with their participation in Durban III.

What the democracies who are wedded to Durban fail to see is that Arab states at first sought to focus their attention on the defeat of Israel solely through military means, but they soon realized that the political battlefield was as important. The Durban Declaration and the follow-up processes it has spawned are the centerpiece of that political battle. They allege that Israel is racist — which they have done consistently since the mid ’70s –and push for a “Zionism is racism” resolution. The message is that Israel is a rogue state like apartheid South Africa, a country so vile in its moral character that there is no need to negotiate with it, only to impose upon it the right answers.

And who better to supply those answers but the emblem of human rights, the United Nations? That is why Durban and the unilateral Palestinian move at the U.N. go hand-in-hand, a one-two punch. They are part and parcel of the rejection of a Jewish state. The racists are masquerading as anti-racists, and the organization that is supposed to protect human rights is run by those who oppose those same rights.

The world’s major democracies have pulled out of Durban III because they have finally understood exactly that. Durban is not about combating racism, it is about demonizing Jews and the Jewish state. The fact that every Western member of the permanent five powers on the U.N. Security Council has decided to boycott this conference is a historic step of tremendous importance. The Palestinians — and Yasser Arafat in particular — were behind Durban I and its message. This boycott is a major defeat of their message of rejectionism and a refutation of the idea that anti-Semitism is a legitimate political tool. It is also a sobering lesson for President Obama — who joined the U.N. Human Rights Council only to learn that the Council is behind Durban III and a key player in the effort to turn racism into anti-racism, and human rights into human wrongs.

John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who is slated to speak at a counter–Durban III event on September 22, sees the Palestinian statehood effort as “the flip side at the U.N. of Durban III’s effort to delegitimize Israel.”

The former governor of Arkansas and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who will deliver a talk at the anti-Durban III event, said, “The effort to condemn and isolate Israel on the world stage is an affront to American values and American security. The effort by those at the U.N. who have attempted to destroy Israel from the moment of its creation ought to be completely unacceptable to every American. Americans are committed to the State of Israel for moral, ethical, and strategic reasons.”

Put plainly, both Durban and the UDI are mechanisms for isolating Israel, and should be rejected by right-thinking democracies.

With such major European and North American countries as France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, the United States, and Canada boycotting Durban III, the anti-racism conference is drifting into political oblivion. The pressing question is, will the major European countries make the connections between the hate-filled Durban agenda and the unilateral PLO gambit at the U.N.?

— Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and at Touro College. She is also editor of Benjamin Weinthal is a Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


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