Why be afraid of Durban II, the Second UN World Conference Against Racism?

Because at Durban I, as this video and these photos illustrate, pro-Palestine campaigning slid unchecked into antisemitism.

That campaigning was central and inescapable for the duration of the conference. If you were there, you would have thought that Israel was out to commit genocide against the Palestinians, rather than to hold onto its statehood in a way which sometimes involved bad decisions, and sometimes racist ones. The scale of the campaigning at Durban I was out of all proportion with other incidences of racism in the world. The NGO Forum resolution (look for the link to the Word document) called for “total isolation” of Israel (clause 424). The video above lists the deleted clauses addressing anti-Jewish racism in the Middle East – simply wiping this off the anti-racist agenda there. The scale, ubiquity and intensity of the anti-Israel feeling made a pariah of just one state among all other states with racist practices – Israel, the Jewish state. The NGO Forum rejected a clause that “delegitimizing Israel is anti-semitic”. Israel was set up as a state for Jews only after 6 million were exterminated in the Holocaust. Elsewhere the NGO Forum note global antisemitism – how could it then insist that Jewish nationalism – Zionism – is racist? And yet clause 419 did this.

The main conference overran by a day as delegates fought over the extent to which Israel should be demonised.

There was plenty antisemitic about Durban I.

Comparisons between Nazis and Israelis were everywhere. Perhaps the most disgusting example, which you can see by pausing at 2 minutes 38 seconds, is a handout depicting the face of Hitler which reads:

“What if I had won?”

And then it splits into two columns. The left hand column is headed “The Good Things”. It reads:

“There would be no Israel and no Palestinian’s blood shed. The rest is your guess.”

The right-hand column, headed “The Bad Things”, reads:

“I wouldn’t have allowed the making of the new Beetle. The rest is your guess.”

But if Hitler had won, there would be no Jews.

Pro-Palestine campaigning doesn’t look like this – or if it does then it leads nowhere. B’Tselem, Gisha, Adalah, One Voice, Machsom Watch, Combatants for Peace, and so many other organisations are not like this. The official site of Durban II doesn’t look like this. It looks lovely. Don’t be fooled – there’s a stratum of activity which made Durban I foul. It hosted and encouraged the grass-roots antisemitism which is broadening on campuses and in Trade Unions.

Iran, one of the world’s more institutionally racist countries, was instrumental in making Durban I what it was. Iran is chair of the Durban II organising committee, which scheduled the preliminary meetings on the two holiest days of the Jewish calendar. Durban II is going to be a racist conference just like Durban I. Anybody able should turn up and protest. Because the Palestinians need a genuinely anti-racist conference. Fur need an anti-racist conference. Sri Lankan Muslims need an anti-racist conference. Christians in India need an anti-racist conference. Iranian Ahwazi Arabs need an anti-racist conference. Arab Israelis need an anti-racist conference. Mizrahi Israelis need an anti-racist conference. Iranian Zoroastrians need an anti-racist conference. Maronites need an anti-racist conference. Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish Kurds need an anti-racist conference. Georgians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia need an anti-racist conference. Egyptian Copts need an anti-racist conference. African Americans need an anti-racist conference. The world’s Roma and Sinti need an anti-racist conference. Australian aborigines need an anti-racist conference. Maoris need an anti-racist conference. Caribs need an anti-racist conference. Tibetans need an anti-racist conference. Russian Jews need an anti-racist conference. Iranian Jews need an anti-racist conference …


3 thoughts on “Why be afraid of Durban II, the Second UN World Conference Against Racism?

  1. “Georgians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia need an anti-racist conference.” lol it is more the other way around. Abkhaz and Ossetian people need an anti-racist conference.

  2. The Georgian attack on South Ossetian civilians was indefensible. And I hear that when Sakaashvili speaks in Georgian, he is stridently nationalist. But to argue that region’s ethnic Georgians who aren’t vulnerable to Russian-backed Ossetian harassment is just wrong.

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