If ever there was a perfect symbol of the failure of the United Nations to live up to the promise of its creators and to serve as a force for peace in the troubled Middle East, it was the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which degenerated into an ugly festival of Israel bashing and outright anti-Semitism.
Last week the General Assembly has voted to mark that sorry event’s 10th anniversary at ministerial meetings next September with another follow-up conference, and there’s no reason to think it will be any different. Some 104 nations voted in favor of the resolution, with only 22 opposed, including the United States.
What a farce; the hijacking of the 2001 meeting was orchestrated by some of the most undemocratic, repressive states in the world; the move to commemorate the event next year was led by some of the same malignant actors on the world stage.
As the Anti-Defamation League noted last week, “[i]n the official conference, as well as the associated NGO gathering, Durban marked the start of a new chapter in the vilification and delegitimization of the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Promoting human rights should be a core goal of the international body; instead, the UN has allowed that function to be emasculated by an agenda of institutionalized Israel bashing, led by nations that regard human rights and democracy as dire threats inside their own borders.
The UN Human Rights Council, consisting of and sometimes led by some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, has focused mostly on Israel for most of its existence; efforts to revive the “Zionism as racism” libel find a receptive audience among repressive dictatorships; ethnic cleansing and even genocide are overlooked as UN agencies find new ways to portray Israel as the worst human rights abuser in the world.
We agree with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): the United States must follow the lead of Canada and Israel in declaring they will not participate in the September commemoration. To do otherwise would be to contribute to this mockery of human rights activism in a world that sorely needs more of it – real human rights activism, not the crude demonization of Israel that has become a major UN focus.