Durban out but racism still in

Durban out but racism still in

Now that the Obama administration has decided to boycott the so-called Durban II conference – a gathering that should have been about racism but whose planning was co-opted by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic elements – The Jewish Standard joins the many groups, Jewish and non-Jewish, that have endorsed the president’s decision.

Whether or not one agreed with the administration’s earlier decision to send an advance delegation, including American Jewish Committee official Felice Gaer of Paramus, to Geneva to evaluate preparatory talks and make our position known among the nations represented there, it is clear that the State Department was prepared to act in good faith when it received the delegation’s report.

As the U.S. team discovered, not only will Israel be singled out for condemnation (as it was during the first Durban conference), but, under the leadership of Iran, the resulting conference document will exclude any mention of the Holocaust while at the same time warning against any “insult” to Islam. This is particularly dangerous at a time when anti-Semitism is increasingly in evidence around the world.

As a result of its findings, the U.S. government stepped back. We hope that other civilized nations will now do the same.

What an irony – and a tragedy. There certainly is a need for a conference on racism, and yet political and religious extremists will prevent this problem from being tackled. Where in the world can we find a group of people prepared to put aside their parochial agendas and address the problem at hand? The United Nations has already proved that it cannot do so, as evidenced by events leading up to Durban II and by its perennial inability to treat Israel fairly.

So where do we turn? To Nobel Peace Prize winners? While we would be delighted to see the likes of Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama, and Al Gore serve on such a panel, we would certainly be less happy with Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter.

Can a new international organization be created? Can international aid organizations such as Oxfam, CARE, and American Jewish World Service come together and nominate human rights workers from each nation who might be willing to engage in such a process? These people, having witnessed firsthand the ravages of racism, may be the very ones to address it.

We invite our readers to ponder the question and send in their suggestions.