Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

ON TO DURBAN...WITHOUT THEM

August 10, 2001

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/10/2001: Conclusion first: Let the Americans and the Israelis stay home. So be it. There's been enough blackmail and bribery and vetoing for such a very long time now. The Americans and the Israelis have been two against the whole world so many times when it comes to the international community of nations. It was just a few years ago that the U.S. single-handedly black-balled Boutros Ghali and sent him packing. U.S. manipulation of the U.N. has been continuous and notorious for quite some time now. It was the U.S. that succumbed to the pressures of the World Jewish Congress and its billionaire Seagrams liquor titan, Edgar Bronfman, outrageously putting the former Secretary General of the United Nations, then the President of Austria, on the "watch list" of war criminals -- and yes much money and political support did change hands under-the-table. And oh yes...all those repeatedly arrogant demands ordering the U.N. to do this and that or Washington wouldn't pay up its huge arrears, nearly requiring the U.N. to suspend the U.S. from voting in the General Assembly. The list goes on and on. And we haven't even gotten to how frighteningly and maddeningly the U.S. forced the U.N. to disgrace itself with genocidal policies against the people of Iraq to suit U.S. and Israel designs for the region.

So let's look at the positive side of all this, even if much U.S. money and support will be forfeited. Now in the new millenium maybe nothing could actually better demonstrate the isolation and the hubris of the world's "only superpower" by letting it stew in its own self-imposed ostracism when it comes to this rare world gathering whose purpose after all is to discuss and counter racism and discrimination around the world. This time, let the people of the world have their real say and let's hope that at least they will be considerably less hindered by American bullying and bribes than if the world's "only superpower" were on scene pushing everyone around. Furthermore, it's actually quite fitting that a conference being held in the new post-Apartheid South Africa not include the one country in today's world that has been attempting to impliment a new Apartheid-style policy, admittedly of a very different form and for very different historic reasons. If the Israelis and the Americans stay home, so be it. If they come after all after trying to push everyone around once again let them join in the real discussion and face the serious historic music.

And finally, let's not avoid the big racism question as it seems many will continue to push be done in Durban. As for the "Zionism Equals Racism" nomenclature which has actually been part of the international diplomatic exchange for decades now...whatever Zionism was in concept and at the time of Israel's founding, whatever were the original intentions of the Jewish descendants before and after the Christian European Holocaust, whatever were the original goals of the Zionist movement...in practice, tragic as it is, Zionism has become racism. That much is actually quite clear. What is going to be done about it, in words and more important in deeds, hopefully by Jews themselves as well as by others of conscience and principle in the diverse community of nations and peoples, that's very unclear.

RIFT OVER ISRAEL CASTS A SHADOW ON RACISM CONFERENCE
By Elizabeth Olson

[International Herald Tribune - Geneva - August 10, 2001]: Negotiations to prepare for the world conference on racism this month have deadlocked over anti-Israel language, and unless the situation changes shortly, a leading U.S. negotiator said Thursday that he would urge a Bush administration boycott of the meeting.

As talks moved toward their midnight deadline, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, called for more time to iron out differences plaguing the World Conference on Racism, scheduled to begin Aug. 31 in Durban, South Africa.

The United States warned earlier that it might avoid the conference if language equating Zionism with racism and other anti-Israeli references remained in documents meant to show universal will to combat racism, intolerance and discrimination.

Arab countries are insisting that conference texts include language referring to what they call Israel's "racist policies" that discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Israel and its allies argue that singling out one country is unjust and unfair when many, if not most, countries have problems with racism.

"I don't think there is a single nation which comes to the conference with clean hands," said Congressman Tom Lantos, Democrat of California, a member of the U.S. negotiating team.

"There clearly is an attempt by some to hijack the conference," he said. "They are trying to make the conference one to attack the state of Israel."

Mr. Lantos said that unless that language was dropped, he would recommend to Secretary of State Colin Powell and President George W. Bush that the government not participate in the conference.

The Palestinian representative, Nabil Ramlawi, pausing outside the meeting room, insisted that the conference language had to refer to the "suffering of the Palestinian people due to Israeli racist practices."

Ignoring those practices, he argued, would mean a conference "convened not to condemn racism, but to protect it."

Negotiators had been more upbeat that a compromise could be reached until late Tuesday, when a group of Arab countries introduced alternative wording for the conference to "recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism in both its Jewish and Arab forms and hostile acts against Jews in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas concerning the Jewish and Arab communities."The World Conference recognizes with deep concern the increase of racist practices of the occupying power, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas in various parts of the world," the seven-page proposal continued.

But Jewish human rights representatives said that while references equating Zionism with racism had been dropped, other references to Arab anti-Semitism and the "Jewish Holocaust in Europe" muddled reality and diminished the historical record in unacceptable ways.

While bitter divisions remained over references to Israel, human rights campaigners said progress had been made regarding a second acrimonious issue - compensation for slavery. African nations had agreed to drop contentious language on slavery but a compromise had yet to be reached on whether to include wording for a "formal apology" for slavery and whether slavery would be defined as a crime against humanity.

The State Department is expected to announce its decision next week on whether it will attend the conference.

Trying to keep the conference preparations on track, Mrs. Robinson said negotiators should take into account the "historical wounds of anti-Semitism and of the Holocaust, on the one hand," and "the accumulated wounds of displacement and military occupation on the other."

However, she noted that the language involving the Middle East would "require careful handling right down to the conference itself." A Caribbean delegate emerging from the meeting room agreed. "We're just not ready to agree on some of the sticky issues. They may not be decided until we get to Durban."


Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2001/8/336.htm