Durban UN World Conference Against Racism

Why was the Durban UN World Conference Against Racism in 2001 anti-Israel?

Anti-Israel forces used the United Nations World Conference Against Racism — held in Durban, South Africa, in September 2001 — to continue their campaign to de-legitimize Israel with unfounded charges of racism. In addition, the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel forces tried to eliminate any mention of anti-Semitism as being a form of racism. In their warped view, Israel is guilty of racism but groups and nations that spread virulent hatred of the Jews are not.
The final preparatory meeting of the Asia group, to develop the agenda for Durban, was held in Tehran, Iran, a location designed to exclude Jewish groups. This outrageous manipulation of the process produced the expected result. Delegates adopted a resolution accusing Israel of "racist" laws and "genocidal" behavior. The Tehran document proposed further to replace any references to antisemitism as a form of racism with the insidious phrase, "Zionist practices against Semitism," thus attempting to undermine the idea that hatred of the Jewish people exists, and reviving the poisonous and untrue idea that Zionism is a racist movement. Moreover, the Tehran document proposed also to change references to the Holocaust to the generic, plural term, "holocausts", thus denying the uniqueness of Hitler?s murderous campaign to eliminate the Jewish people. Finally, they included language that equates the construction of settlements by the State of Israel with crimes against humanity. Because this resolution became the official document of the Asia group, it had to be included and debated by the full conference, lending undue weight to these positions. This unsettling behavior is, unfortunately, characteristic of "human rights" sessions sponsored by the United Nations, where participants have diverted the proceedings to unleash anti-Israel declarations, referring to Jewish villages and towns in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza Strip as the worst type of "war crime" and claiming that Israeli action in defense of its citizens against Palestinian Arab violence amounted to "ethnic cleansing" and "anti-Semitic genocide." Israel and the United States refused to attend the Durban conference because of the anti-Israel positions. Secretary of State Colin Powell explained:

  • I know that you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of 'Zionism equals racism' or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world - Israel - for censure and abuse.
The conference ended with the adoption of a "compromise" proposal on the Middle East reached between the European Union and Arab countries. At the final plenary session, Arab delegates led by Syria and Pakistan sought to add three paragraphs of the earlier anti-Israel language that had prompted the US and Israel to abandon the conference. Brazil offered a "motion of no action" requesting that, having reached a compromise on the Middle East, delegates move forward to accept the declaration and leave aside paragraphs on which they were unable to agree. The motion was approved over the objections of Arab and Muslim states and others that sought to include anti-Israel language.  

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