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PostMon Apr 20, 2009 12:58 pm     Durban II: the main thread    


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Durban II


Ahmadinejad prompts walkout from U.N. racism summit

By Laura MacInnis
Reuters
April 20, 2009

GENEVA - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted a walkout during his speech to a U.N. racism summit on Monday when he accused Israel of establishing a "cruel and repressive racist regime" over Palestinians.

The summit had already been badly undermined by a boycott by the United States and some of its major allies over concerns that it would be used as a platform for attacks against Israel.

The boycott left Ahmadinejad, who has in the past cast doubt on the Nazi Holocaust, as the only head of state in attendance. His speech produced the kind of language that the Western countries and Israel had feared.

"Following World War II they resorted to military aggressions to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering," Ahmadinejad told the conference, on the day that Jewish communities commemorate the Holocaust.

"And they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine," he said, according to the official translation.

"And in fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine."

Dozens of diplomats in the audience promptly got up and left the hall for the duration of the speech.




"Such outrageous anti-Semitic remarks should have no place in a U.N. anti-racism forum," said British ambassador Peter Gooderham, whose country chose not to send a minister to Geneva.

Israel said it was recalling its ambassador to Switzerland in protest at the conference and Israeli officials also voiced anger at a meeting that Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz held on Sunday with Ahmadinejad.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store told the conference after Ahmadinejad that Iran had made itself the odd man out by undermining agreement on a conference declaration.

"Norway will not accept that the odd man out hijacks the collective efforts of the many," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who held a meeting with Ahmadinejad earlier on Monday, said it was "deeply regrettable" that the Iranian leader ignored his plea to avoid causing upset.

"I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian President to accuse, divide and even incite," he said in an unsually direct statement. "We must all turn away from such a message in both form and substance."




FEARS OF CONTROVERSY

Eight Western nations avoided the entire meeting, fearing it would be dominated by what U.S. President Barack Obama called "hypocritical and counterproductive" antagonism towards Israel.

However, a number of the delegations that remained behind applauded Ahmadinejad's speech.

Arab and Muslim attempts to single out the Jewish state for criticism had prompted the United States to walk out of the first U.N. summit on racism, in South Africa in 2001.

Although a declaration prepared for the follow-up conference does not refer explicitly to Israel or the Middle East, its first paragraph "reaffirms" a text adopted at the 2001 meeting which includes six paragraphs on those sensitive issues.

U.S. President Barack Obama, the first African-American leader of the United States, said on Saturday that Washington wanted a "clean start" and would not accept the 2001 text as a starting point for discussions on racial issues.

"If you're incorporating a previous conference that we weren't involved with that raised a whole set of objectionable provisions, then we couldn't participate," he said on Sunday after the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights who convened the meeting, said she deplored the language used by Ahmadinejad.

"This speech was completely inappropriate at a conference designed to nurture diversity and tolerance," he said.


French President Nicolas Sarzoky called the Iranian remarks "an intolerable call for racist hatred that flouts the ideals and the values inscribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcomed the diplomatic walk-out as a way to show "vocal opposition to what President Ahmadinejad stands for and has to say".

The walk-out was temporary, and most diplomats returned to the plenary after Ahmadinejad finished speaking, but the Czech delegation said it would not return to the conference. The Czech Republic holds the European Union presidency.

Pillay, a former war crimes judge, called earlier on Monday for those participating in the week-long conference to avoid letting the absence of some states derail their efforts.

"We all should be mindful that a failure to agree on the way forward would negatively reverberate on the human rights agenda for years to come," she said at the meeting's opening.

Source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/.....UKLK621954


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PostMon Apr 20, 2009 2:12 pm     The anti-Racism Conference as it Should Have Been    


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PostMon Apr 20, 2009 3:16 pm     Vatican condemns Ahmadinejad comments as extremist    


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Vatican condemns Ahmadinejad comments as extremist

The Vatican on Monday said that comments hostile to Israel made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a United Nations conference on racism were "extremist and unacceptable".

. . .

http://www.reuters.com/article.....USLK339694


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PostMon Apr 20, 2009 6:00 pm     Iranian Nazi at Durban II Hate-Fest    


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Iranian Nazi at Durban II Hate-Fest



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PostMon Apr 20, 2009 6:13 pm     U.N. Surprise: Victim of Qaddafi Torture Confronts Libyan    


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U.N. Surprise: Victim of Qaddafi Torture Confronts Libyan Chair of Durban 2

http://www.unwatch.org




Story covered in French satellite TV France 24; Swiss TV; The New Republic online....

Durban II Dispatch: Libya on Trial

Geneva, Switzerland

Libya was chosen in 2007 to chair the preparatory committee for the UN Durban Review Conference--notwithstanding the irony of an egregious human-rights violator chairing a human rights conference. For the past three days, the committee has been holding sessions to finalize the conference's draft statement, upon which many countries will base their decision whether to attend the conference this week. On Friday, the last day, NGOs were given 30 minutes to weigh in.

Amidst the anti-Israel rants from all the usual NGOs, Libyan ambassador Najjat Al-Hajjaji (who was chairing the meeting) gave the floor to UN Watch...

But sitting in their chair was not Hillel Neuer, the group's executive director and usual mouthpiece, but Ashraf El Hagog, the Palestinian doctor who was falsely accused of and sentenced to death for infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV (along with five Bulgarian nurses). El Hagog and the nurses were held in Libya on death row for nine years, mistreated and tortured, until their release was negotiated by France last year.

"Madame Chairman," El Hagog began, staring steely eyed at the Libyan ambassador. "I dont know if you recognize me. I am the Palestinian medical intern who was scapegoated by your country, Libya, in the HIV case in the Benghazi hospital, together with the five Bulgarian nurses."

Al-Hajjaji immediately started banging her gavel. "Stop... stop.... I ask you to stop," she yelled, first looking miffed, then exasperated. "You are, you are not addressing the agenda item... I will allow you to resume only if you address the agenda item we are discussing." The room immediately fell silent.

El Hagog, being coached by Neuer sitting next to him, tried to introduce some amendments to the statement "based on my own suffering," and was again interrupted by Al-Hajjaji banging her gavel. But he continued recounting the story of his torture, then said, "All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners. Madame Chair, if that is not discrimination, then what is?" After listing the amendments, he concluded: "Madame Chair, Libya told this conference that it practices no inequality or discrimination. But then how do you account for what was done to me, to my colleagues, and to my family...?"

At this point, Hajjaji recognized a point of order from ... the Libyan delegation, who said that El Hagog was not speaking on the correct agenda item. Hajjaji used the objection as an excuse to move on to the next speaker.


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PostTue Apr 21, 2009 12:46 am     Durban II and Ahmedinajad's speech    


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The most disgusting aspect by far of this episode was the comment by the BBC's Middle East "expert" Jeremy Bowen who reported the incident and the walk out by every civilized country and then the camera panned to those in the hall who were applauding the speech and he said "of course, some people in the hall agreed with him and think that Israel *is* racist". The way he said it sounded like he clearly agreed with this positively laughable assertion, made by the most racist regime in the world that has persecuted its minorities and put many of them to death (Zoroastrians, Christians, etc.)


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PostTue Apr 21, 2009 4:43 am        


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Durban Diary, day one: Ahmadinejad's ugly entrance

By Anne Bayefsky
The New York Daily News
April 20, 2009



Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance in Geneva Monday at the UN's so-called anti-racism conference, Durban II, made the point better than anyone else. The UN's idea of combating racism and xenophobia is to encourage more of it. Ahmadinejad was the very first speaker as the substantive session opened. Handed a global megaphone by the UN, out flowed unadulterated hate speech.

The phenomenon was astonishing. The UN provided a platform for a virulent antisemite on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. In the name of fighting intolerance, they translated his words into six languages and broadcast them around the world. As he entered the grand room at the UN's Palais Wilson, he was met by a round of applause. And this is what he said.

He began by denying the Holocaust: The "Zionist regime" had been created "on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and the ambiguous and dubious question of holocaust."

And he continued with a genocidal agenda: "the egoist and uncivilized Zionism have been able to deeply penetrate into their political and economic structure including their legislation, mass media, companies, financial systems, and their security and intelligence agencies. They have imposed their domination to the extent that nothing can be done against their will. As long as they are at the helm of power, justice will never prevail in the world. It is time the ideal of Zionism, which is the paragon of racism, to be broken. The world Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuse religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces."

As he spoke, the European Union countries that had not withdrawn earlier finally stood up and walked out. But they didn't really understand what had just happened at all, for when he was finished, all but the Czech Republic went right back in.

Ten countries have now boycotted this second Durban hatefest: Canada, Israel, the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. The rest of the world remains inside, providing legitimacy to a forum for hatemongering. They are under the impression that there is no lasting damage being done here either to the credibility of the institutional host or to the cause of protecting human rights. They are wrong.

And the real victims of human rights are all the poorer for it.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, editor of eyeontheun.org and a professor at Touro College.


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PostTue Apr 21, 2009 4:46 am     Re: Durban II and Ahmedinajad's speech    


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bacon wrote:
The most disgusting aspect by far of this episode was the comment by the BBC's Middle East "expert" Jeremy Bowen who reported the incident and the walk out by every civilized country and then the camera panned to those in the hall who were applauding the speech and he said "of course, some people in the hall agreed with him and think that Israel *is* racist". The way he said it sounded like he clearly agreed with this positively laughable assertion, made by the most racist regime in the world that has persecuted its minorities and put many of them to death (Zoroastrians, Christians, etc.)


What's new?

BBC panel finds broadcaster breached guidelines on Israel


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PostTue Apr 21, 2009 9:23 am     re Durban II    


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Aren't you happy?

UN: Iranian president toned down attack on Israel


Quote:
The U.N. says Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinehad dropped a reference to Holocaust denial from his speech at a U.N. racism conference.

. . .

The prepared English text of Ahmadinejad's speech said the West had used "the ambiguous and dubious question of the Holocaust" in setting up the state of Israel.




YAY! Thank you Mahmoud! Rolling Eyes



On another note, France criticizes USA for shunning UN racism talks

Quote:
France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner criticized the United States Tuesday for boycotting a United Nations conference where Iran's president launched a verbal attack on Israel.

. . .

"It's paradoxical -- they don't want to listen to Iran in Geneva but they are ready to talk to them," Kouchner told French radio Europe 1. "More than a paradox, that could really be a mistake."




Meanwhile, Swiss teacher: I'm ashamed of my country

Quote:
In his letter, history teacher Jean-Francois Bussy expressed his "dismay" over his president's meeting with Ahmadinejad, noting that the "intentions and convictions of that man were already known."


"I thus estimate that your meeting with him was a mistake, even an insult to democracy in general, and to Israel, the only true democracy in the Near East," Bussy wrote.

. . .

Bussy also dismissed Switzerland's argument of neutrality, saying that "neutrality has boundaries too."


"Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and we, as democrats, cannot just stand idly by," he said. "You can't be neutral when someone wishes to destroy another country. Neutrality ends at that point."




What else? Argentina Jews rap gov’t. over Ahmadinejad

Quote:
Argentina's Jewish community criticized its country's diplomats for not walking out during the Iranian president's address at Durban II.

In response, the Argentine Foreign Ministry “categorically” rejected the anti-Israel statements by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's made to the United Nations-sponsored conference.

“For Argentina, Holocaust denial is unacceptable," the Argentine government said in a statement. "That is why Bishop Richard Williamson was expelled from the country last February: He had doubted that Jews had been victims of genocide.”


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PostTue Apr 21, 2009 2:32 pm        


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Elie Wiesel Verbally Abused as "Zio-Nazi" by Ahmadinejad Entourage at Durban II

Holocaust survivor and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Elie Wiesel verbally abused as "Zio-Nazi" by Ahmadinejad entourage at Durban II



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PostWed Apr 22, 2009 3:19 pm     Durban Diary, day two: The outrage continues    


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Durban II Alert





This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in The New York Daily News.

On Tuesday, the UN's racist anti-racism conference "Durban II" rammed through a final declaration three days before its scheduled conclusion. On Monday Iranian President Ahamadinejad had opened the substantive program by denying the Holocaust and spewing antisemitism. A day later UN members rewarded Iran by electing it one of three Vice-Chairs of the committee which adopted the final declaration.

The committee meeting was chaired by Libya and lasted fifteen minutes. No discussion of the merits of the Durban II declaration was tolerated.

The document reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration which alleges Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism and mentions only Israel among all 192 UN member states. It also multiplies the anti-Israel provisions, using the usual UN code, by adding yet another rant about racist foreign occupation.

Not surprisingly, such a manifesto encouraged the racists and antisemites which had pressed for its adoption. Speaking on Tuesday the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faysal Mekdad, alleged "the right of return" of Jews to Israel - Jewish self-determination - was "a form of racial discrimination". He also objected to the "Judaization of Israel" and to the "ethnic cleansingb&of 1948."

Palestinian Riyad Al-Maliki claimed that "for over 60 years the Palestinian people has been suffering underb&the ugliest face of racism and racial discriminationb&" and said an Israeli government "declarationb®arding the Jewish nature of the state is a form of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." Al-Maliki was delighted with the result of the conference and gloated by reading excerpts from the 2001 Durban Declaration that he was pleased to see had been reaffirmed.

The remnants of the European Union which remained inside the conference - in particular France and the United Kingdom - entirely ignored their many promises not to accept anything which singled out the Jewish state. Though these Europeans undoubtedly enabled the hatemongering, their excuses in the coming days are predictable.

The rest of the week has been set aside for speechifying. Europeans can be expected to point to the miniscule mentions of antisemitism and the Holocaust and pretend antisemitism is unrelated to the demonization of Israel in the very same text.

Their behavior is as chilling as the behavior of the UN itself. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay issued a press release following Ahmadinejad's speech in which she complained: "I condemn the use of a UN forum for political grandstanding. I find this totally objectionable. Much of his speech was clearly beyond the scope of the Conference."

Ahmadinejad's speech was not political grandstanding. It was antisemitism. The problem with Holocaust denial is not the scope of the conference. The problem is that it is a form of antisemitism. A Durban II Declaration which continues to demonize Israel - and therefore fosters the murder of Jews in the here and now - is not legitimate because it feigns concern over Jews murdered in the past.

April 21st was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Its message, however, was totally lost on the United Nations.





For a complete source of information on Durban II
see www.EYEontheUN.org/durban.


EYEontheUN monitors the UN direct from UN Headquarters in New York. EYEontheUN brings to light the real UN record on the key threats to democracy, human rights, and peace and security in our time. EYEontheUN provides a unique information base for the re-evaluation of priorities and directions for modern-day democratic societies.


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PostSun Apr 26, 2009 2:22 am     Ahmadinejad’s Wager, The World’s Peril    


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Why did Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with the full backing of Iran’s regime, behave as he did at the Durban-2 conference?

One reason, of course, is that he believed every word he said, and much of the Iranian Islamist regime thinks the same way. This factor should always be remembered, lest people think this was only some cynical ploy.

As the Iranian Islamist regime’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, once said, the revolution was not just about lowering the price of watermelons. That is, this was not merely a movement for materialist reasons but one that believes it was executing God’s will on earth. Ideology was central.

To explain this properly, permit me to digress a moment. People often ask: why did Jews under Nazi rule in Eastern Europe not flee or do more to escape the Shoah (Holocaust). After extensive research and interviewing, it is clear to me that while there were a number of factors but foremost was the disbelief that the Germans would murder them all.

Remember that these Jews were forced into slave labor. They produced goods, farmed crops, and repaired roads. In effect, they were helping the German war effort. These laborers were paid nothing and fed barely enough to stay alive.

Why, then, would the Germans destroy, so to speak, a goose that was laying eggs if not necessarily golden ones, possibly losing the war in the process? The answer is: because they believed in their own ideology they would not act pragmatically but rather make their own defeat—and own deaths—more likely.

In a similar way, Iran's regime does things that are objectively against the country's national interest--and to a lesser extent its own interest if the regime's only consideration was to increase its wealth and to lengthen its rule--out of ideological considerations.

The second factor that should be remembered is that of miscalculation, even if a regime is trying to pursue rational self-interest. A leader, particularly if reckless and overconfident, will take an action he thinks is in his interest but turns out to be a disaster. The best internal Middle East examples are those of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser provoking the crisis that led to the 1967 war and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Nasser thought he could score points in the Arab arena and at home by threatening to wipe Israel off the map and taking at least some major steps toward war. He miscalculated. Israel attacked and inflicted a huge defeat on him.

Saddam Hussein thought he could score points in the Arab arena and at home by seizing Kuwait, making himself the Arab world’s leader, plus getting many billions of dollars from that oil-rich little country. He miscalculated. A U.S.-led coalition attacked and inflicted a huge defeat on him.
For Ahmadinejad, then, ideology and miscalculation are major factors. They will continue to be major factors if Iran gets nuclear weapon.

But of course, as with Nasser and Saddam Hussein, there are shorter-run calculations. Three are important:

Domestic popularity. This is always a basic factor with Middle Eastern radical regimes. Not all Iranians will support Ahmadinejad and many hate the regime. But among the 20 percent hardcore and perhaps 50 percent total who can be mobilized, they may cheer Ahmadinejad. Iran is strong, its enemies are weak, and its leadership is courageous. America, the Jews, and the West are satanic. Rally to the Islamic regime!

Regional popularity. Iran’s regime is seeking to be leader of the Muslim world and the leading power in the Middle East. But in doing so it has two very big problems: Iran is mostly Shia Muslim; most Muslims (especially Arabs) are Sunni Muslims. Iran is mostly ethnically Persian; Arabs are Arab. How to overcome these barriers? Iran already has Arab and largely Sunni allies--Syria, Hamas, Hizballah—but that’s not enough. So by becoming the leader against America, the West, and Israel, Iran hopes to override these problems. Who cares if we are Persian and Shia, Ahmadinejad says, we are the true Muslims doing what your governments aren’t doing.

Global popularity. While this is a miscalculation, Ahmadinejad and other regime leaders believe that this kind of behavior can make them popular throughout the world. This includes not only Muslim-majority countries but also the Third World and even the West. In a recent interview with Der Spiegel magazine [see source below] Ahmadinejad said that he believed most Germans also hated Israel and wanted to see it wiped out. Certainly, there is reason for him to believe such things.

Some better-informed regime leaders view Ahmadinejad as a disaster. The problem is that the top leadership is backing him, and thus his words and actions do represent the regime. The June elections will almost certainly return him to office for more years, years during which Iran will get nuclear weapons.

There’s one other extremely important point on which Ahmadinejad is misunderstood. It is true that he does not control the government. The most powerful man in Iran remains the supreme guide, Ali Khamenei. But Ahmadinejad, allied with powerful current and former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers, is building his own apparatus. In the future, he could well emerge as the uncontested leader of Iran. For the moment, though, it is enough that he has the regime’s backing.

Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders—though not all—believe the West is weak and cannot respond to their aggression. They are not, as sympathizers portray them in the West, trembling people motivated by fear of external attack. Clearly, Iran has legitimate security concerns. But the real threats are heightened by their own behavior. If they were in fact so frightened they could change policy and reduce the threat. Some regime leaders, though not those in control right now, advocate just such a policy. Unfortunately, the West hasn’t helped them enough by making that threat more credible through denunciations and effective sanctions.

So here’s the bottom line: by failing to oppose Iran more effectively, the West is unintentionally encouraging it to be more extremist and dangerous. By failing to help relatively moderate Arab regimes, the West is making them more susceptible to having to appease Iran. By pressuring and criticizing Israel, the West is encouraging Iran’s regime to believe it can be destroyed.
Not a pretty picture. But neither is that of the would-be fuehrer being an honored guest at UN meetings. No wonder Ahmadinejad and his backers believe that theirs is a winning bet.

For more on Ahmadinejad’s interview with Der Spiegel, see http://www.gloria-center.org/b.....East.html.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org/



Obama Fails to Show International Leadership



An interesting detail is that the United States waited until the last possible moment to cancel its participation in Durban-2. This was a creditable action. But it also showed a problem which may come back repeatedly to haunt not only America but the world.

The United States is viewed as a leader. The Europeans and others were watching Washington to make their own decision. An American president who understood this leadership role would have made the decision earlier and informed others that it was doing so. Another half dozen or dozen countries would have followed and also cancelled their participation.

For the first time since the period before the United States played a leadership role in the world--another way to say it is for the first time since isolationism--under President Herbert Hoover who left office in 1933--America has a president who doesn't want to take up that role of global leadership.

He thinks this shows nobility, that is a lack of arrogance. Yet by leaving the other democracies, and many dictatorial regimes which are moderate in U.S. interest terms, without leadership, he casts them adrift. This makes it more likely they will not act in accord with American needs, be divided among themselves, and be far less effective.

The true term for this is: abdication of responsibility.


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PostWed Apr 29, 2009 4:00 am     How Durban II Undermined Human Rights    


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April 27, 2009
Contact: Anne Bayefsky
info@EYEontheUN.org



The U.N. conference degrades the very causes it says it fights for.



This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in Forbes <http> .

Durban II, the U.N. conference in Geneva that ended on Friday, will forever be remembered for handing a global megaphone to genocidal hatemonger Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the name of combating racism. By the end of the week-long jamboree, even the South African ambassador insisted that participants stop referring to the meeting as Durban II because "it is maligning my country."

But the facts aren't stopping the U.N. apparatus from already attempting to rewrite history. Navanethem Pillay, U.N. high commissioner for human rights and secretary-general of Durban II, called a news conference on Friday hours before the adoption of the final declaration to claim Durban II was "a celebration of tolerance and dignity for all." Well, not quite all.

Pillay was open about her intentions to the press corps: "I'm jumping the gun ... the Durban Review Conference is technically not over until later this afternoon. But I know you have deadlines." Rather than changing perceptions, however, her heavily-orchestrated plea confirmed that neither she nor the U.N. understood what had hit them.

The high commissioner bragged: "... a few states disengaged from the process ... they are not part of the consensus that adopted this text ... and Iran is part of that consensus. When the final call came, Iran did not oppose the text." She didn't seem to have a clue that a result approved by Iran--but not by the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, the Czech Republic (currently head of the European Union) or Israel--reflected on the merits of Durban II rather than on these leading democracies.

Pillay is no stranger to double-talk. Since taking office last September, she has repeatedly claimed that the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (the DDPA)--which singles out only Israel of 192 U.N. member states, saying that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism--"transcended divisive and intolerant approaches." She has alleged that back in 2001 "abusive or hurtful remarks against Israel" were confined to "a small section of the NGO parallel forum." In a last-ditch effort to avoid a boycott of Durban II, she told reporters on April 2 that the language on Israel had been removed from the Durban II draft outcome document.

When it was over, however, she evidently felt the need for subterfuge was gone. Her audience had changed, and she noted both that Israel had been singled out and demonized by the DDPA, and that Durban II had done the same by reaffirming the DDPA in its opening paragraph. In her words: "The DDPA includes ... one paragraph which mentions the suffering of the Palestinians ... Palestine is mentioned ... in the DDPA, and the word "reaffirm" carries those paragraphs into this document."

By comparison, the U.N.'s highest human rights officer had no problem with the silence of Durban I and II on the plight of Israelis, or any other specific victim of discrimination or intolerance in the Arab, Islamic and developing world. She had no comment on the fact that the transatlantic slave trade was highlighted in Durban II, while the slave trade and slavery in Arab and Muslim states was deliberately omitted. She said nothing about the fact that ongoing genocide in Darfur was again totally ignored.

Durban II, therefore, revealed a startling development in the world of human rights. Since the position of U.N. high commissioner for human rights was created in 1993, there has never been an incumbent so obviously in the pocket of Arab and Islamic countries. These states invented the global conference formula years ago in an attempt to isolate Israel, curtail free expression, manufacture victimhood that would offset concern with anti-Semitism, and prevent any mention of the racial and religious intolerance and discrimination rampant in their own backyards.

And yet, the high commissioner took the unusual step of singling out these states for praise in her closing remarks. She claimed Arab countries had made "extremely difficult" "political concessions" in not insisting on even more condemnations of Israel, while the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) "was also very cooperative." In fact, it was the stubborn refusal of Arab and Islamic states to agree to any U.N. "anti-racism" declaration that did not allege Israel is racist, which kept the U.S. and other states away.

The Geneva venue for the Durban Review Conference, deliberately chosen to allow the U.N. greater control over events, makes it impossible to pin the blame for what occurred on anyone but the U.N. and governments themselves. The proceedings were entirely conducted in an oppressively controlling atmosphere. Pillay acknowledged, for example, the nexus between the U.N. and the press corps (which have permanent offices inside U.N. premises). On the final day, she said, "I want to say at this point particularly to you that the Geneva press corps has been terrific during the later stages of this process. You have seen through the propaganda. ... So on behalf of my entire office, I would like to extend you a very warm thank you for that. I believe you have played an exceptionally important role. I know that some of you have had to argue with editors who, like so many others, have succumbed to the mythology."

Congratulating the Geneva-based press for telling tales her way was a fairly accurate reflection of what transpired. A news conference, called to respond to Ahmadinejad's anti-Semitic tirade featuring, among others, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight and prize-winning author Shelby Steele, was dominated by U.N. talking points and a list of falsehoods the high commissioner had been peddling for months. Pillay's press corps was more interested in alleged Israeli atrocities than in the fact that Ahmadinejad had been promoting genocide from a U.N. "anti-racism" soapbox.

Non-governmental organizations also became victims of Durban II's official line. Some NGOs representing Dalits, Tamils and Tibetans were denied accreditation to attend the conference at all. Cameras and film crews were prevented from recording selected NGO panels that took place on U.N. premises. The final declaration was adopted two days before NGOs were permitted to make a single comment. Allowed to speak with only 24 hours left in the proceedings, NGOs mentioning Ahmadinejad or Tibetans or Berbers were constantly interrupted and silenced by spurious points of order from Libya, China, Iran and South Africa.

The chair announced the governing rule was that "proper language must be used with respect and dignity at all times," and then proceeded to let speeches likening Israelis to Nazis and claiming "9/11 is an unexplained mystery blamed on Arabs" go unchallenged. By Friday afternoon, the voices of NGOs were so obviously censored or irrelevant that many who had signed the speakers' list didn't bother to show up to deliver their statements.

The U.N.'s NGO liaison officer, Ricardo Espinosa, harassed me for 15 minutes following a speech I delivered condemning the proceedings. When I insisted on having someone with me, or a tape recording of whatever it was he was intending to communicate, he objected, "this is not the United States, this is the U.N."--a fact with which I was only too familiar. When I finally found colleagues and offered to speak to him in the presence of others and a recorder, he suddenly fell silent, said nothing and left with the words "you'll be hearing from us." It remains to be seen whether he or his U.N. bosses are prepared to put their unidentified threat in writing.

Manufacturing a Durban success story is now the primary goal of all the participants--some of whom began to speak of the next conference, "Durban plus 10 years," in the typical U.N. mode of perpetual self-reproduction. In the final minutes on Friday, India (on behalf of the Asian regional group of states), Sweden (on behalf of the remaining E.U. states), Switzerland (the host country) and the Kenyan chair declared NGOs had played an "important role" and "all participated actively." Brazil, Pakistan and Cuba, speaking on behalf of larger regional and political groups, lined up to declare that Durban II's outcome represented a "consensus in international politics" that "makes us all happy." Particularly preposterous was the final comment of the U.K., which "welcomes the adoption by consensus of the outcome"--a very odd description of a product adopted without the approval of key members of the E.U.

The U.K. also claimed that its support for the Durban II outcome was conditional "on the clear understanding that it does not single out any country for consideration." Given that foreign office lawyers know full well that Israel was singled out when Durban II reaffirmed the Durban I Declaration, issuing an interpretive declaration saying the opposite looks like a cynical attempt to deceive the British public. British voters will also be interested to know that their government "was disappointed not to have seen the program budget implications"--meaning the dollars and cents associated with all the undertakings in the document--before it was adopted. But being kept in the dark about the financial implications of Durban II for British taxpayers was still not enough to prevent Britain from jumping on board.

Cuba, on behalf of the 117 member Non-Aligned Movement, best illustrates the Durban fiction that the U.N. hopes will now take hold. It called the Durban document and its reaffirmation the "most far-reaching and transcending document of the international community in the struggle against racism."

A closer look at the final product, however, reveals a variety of troubling provisions rammed through in 15 minutes on the conference's second day. There are a dozen references to cultural diversity, cultural identity and cultural respect aimed at threatening universal human rights standards; new reliance on the U.N. Human Rights Council (a body dominated by human rights abusers); a new provision on racism and foreign occupation written for a party of one, various actions demanded for "victims as defined by the DDPA" (which means Palestinians); and a commitment to grant Durban declarations I and II biblical-like status and implement them throughout "the whole U.N. system."

In her final press conference, Pillay singled out an article I had written last December for Forbes entitled, "The U.N.'s Dangerous High Commissioner for Human Rights." She made light of the title, but having watched her Durban II performance, she is probably the only one laughing. The United Nations and its high commissioner cajoled, pressured and threatened states to legitimize a campaign to undermine the universal values at the heart of the genuine protection of human rights. In so doing, they had no qualms about making promises they had no intention of keeping. Before the conference, on April 15, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Heuze announced: "Hate speech and ethnic insults will be barred at next week's United Nations conference on fighting racism and intolerance." Pillay's post-conference claims of "a celebration of tolerance and dignity for all" show the same disdain for honesty.

Durban II does not represent tolerance and dignity for all, or a consensus in international politics, or restraint by Arab and Islamic states that seek the destruction of the Jewish state. It represents the corruption of the U.N. human rights system itself.




For a complete source of information on Durban II see www.EYEontheUN.org/durban. <http>


EYEontheUN monitors the UN direct from UN Headquarters in New York. EYEontheUN brings to light the real UN record on the key threats to democracy, human rights, and peace and security in our time. EYEontheUN provides a unique information base for the re-evaluation of priorities and directions for modern-day democratic societies.


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