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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Racist Durban Conference

Hermon's co-chairman, Prof. Leonard Cole, said that "it's important for Jewish organizations to be there, at least as observers. We shouldn't be leaving this fight."
It is important for Jews to be in Durban - but not inside. It was important for Jews to be at Auschwitz too. We should not have left that fight either, but you have to know when you are outnumbered and the odds are hopeless.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 08:53 27/02/2008       
Jewish groups mull UN racism meet after Israel decides to skip
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent
Jewish organizations are still at odds on how to deal with the Durban II conference after the government decided that Israel would not participate.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced on Sunday at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem that Israel would not participate in the United Nations Follow-up Conference on Racism, more popularly known as "Durban II." Livni added the caveat: "Unless it is proven that the conference will not be used as a platform for further anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity."
The first Durban conference in 2001 turned into an anti-Israel festival, and governments in the West have been debating over the last few months how to respond to the follow-up conference next year.
Last month, Canada became the first country to announce it would not participate.
This announcement has been generally praised by most Jewish organizations but has also drawn criticism, both for not going far enough and for leaving the battlefield.
Former minister Natan Sharansky, who founded the Global Forum, said Livni's decision was timely but that it should have been without the caveat.
He said that "it's not enough to not take part in the conference itself, there is a whole process of preparation in the year running up to the conference, where Israel is being attacked, and we must make it quite clear that we oppose that also."
A number of community leaders from the Diaspora, participating at the Jewish Agency board of governors meeting this week, voiced concern that Israel, by withdrawing from the conference, was "deserting the battleground and leaving the stage to Israel bashers."
These leaders preferred not to go on record and to openly support the government's decision.
Amos Hermon, chairman of the Jewish Agency's task force on anti-Semitism, said that "Jewish communities have requested us to coordinate a joint effort to fight Durban II, and we are already making plans to bring thousands of Jews to demonstrate at the conference, wherever it takes place."
Hermon's co-chairman, Prof. Leonard Cole, said that "it's important for Jewish organizations to be there, at least as observers. We shouldn't be leaving this fight."
The president of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, disagreed, saying that "we should learn from what happened at the previous Durban conference. This is not running away, but standing up for our principles. Jewish organizations shouldn't even be there. There are enough ways to fight this, over the Internet and making press conferences in different places around the world."

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