In February 2009, the Obama administration scurried to participate in preparatory sessions in Geneva, Switzerland, for Durban II, follow-up to the infamous 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance (WCAR), which was held in Durban, South Africa, and is known today as Durban I.
Last month in Geneva, however, the administration was ignominiously rebuffed by preparatory session attendees who rejected U.S. proposed changes to the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA). These documents are expected to be adopted at the April 2009 Durban II Conference, which also will be held in Geneva.
In response, the administration has announced non-participation by the United States of America in Durban II. The upcoming cnference may simply reaffirm Durban I with all its anti-Israel, anti-West diatribe and pass it off as a declaration. Is the administration humiliated, or could it now be off the hook and able to lament, “Well, Israel, we tried”?
On Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, U.S. Department of State spokesman Robert Wood announced the failure of administration efforts to change the Durban II documents. He stated that the “document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable.
As a result, the United States will not engage in further negotiations on this text, nor will we participate in a conference on this text.” The administration left the U.N. door ajar with off-the-record comments that a re-structured plan of action without its condemnation of Israel, defamation of religion, reparations for slavery, and re-affirmation of Durban I might be acceptable to the United States. As Mr. Wood noted, the United States “would be prepared to re-engage” in the 2009 Durban II Conference, if the text met various criteria.
The Obama administration cannot deny the clash of Islamic hardliners with infidels (such as the 9/11 attacks staged precisely three days following the close of the Durban I Conference) or the clash of Islamists with Jews (Gaza rockets landing in Israel last month, the last eight years, and for decades before).
President Obama has sent U.S. special envoy George Mitchell to begin a new round of meetings to introduce Obamanic diplomacy to the Mideast. This effort may serve to placate U.S. peaceniks but will hardly accomplish a lasting and sustainable peace.
Durban I: Durban, South Africa, 2001
In 1997, the U.N. General Assembly agreed to hold a World Conference in Durban, South Africa, to seek the eradication of world racism, discrimination, and intolerance. This World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance was to determine the causes, sources, forms, and manifestations of these ills as well as to identify victims and measures of prevention, education, and eradication of these ills.
Attendees were to determine remedies, redresses, and empowering options. Noble goals all, but with 57 Muslim nations wielding the power of the agenda, Durban I soon ignited into a conflagration of goodwill, ecumenism, fairness, and justice leaving behind a heap of bitter ashes.
The site of the conference was oddly appropriate. Durban is South Africa’s third largest city and leading seaport. Founded by the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, it was named Natal (Christmas in Portuguese). In 1824, the British flagged the area of the Bay of Natal and built the city of Durban. Today, however, Durban ranks among the most crime-ridden cities in the world.
According to travel guides, its famed Golden Mile beachfront has become the scene of crime and sleaze — hardly the site for a high-minded conference (take note, Durban II is being held in Geneva).
The United States and Israel left after four days of Durban I, with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell leading the walkout and noting that it was merely a “hate” conference.
Was it coincidental that the 9/11 attacks occurred days after the close of the conference?
Canada had stayed at Durban, trying to bring some rational thinking to the mob mentality of a “get-even” psychosis infecting developing nations who believe themselves poor and underprivileged because of the Western developed world.
Also seeking their portion of the “get-even” pie were Muslim nations downplaying decades of Islamic terrorism to claim that they too were mistreated by the West. Durban I was an attack-fest upon “infidel” nations by Muslim nations that pride themselves as independent yet seek legitimacy through victimization.
The main thrusts of the Durban I documents were as follows: victimization of Palestinians by Israelis dating from al Naqba-Day of the Catastrophe (the Creation of Israel); an assertion that the United States and Europe must accept and atone (through reparations) for the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and the equating of any criticism of Islam to “racism” (especially any Western designation of Islamic freedom fighters as terrorists).
Durban I equated any criticism of Islam or its acts to “Islamophobia” and thus to “racism.”
The documents sought to criminalize any statements about Islam, at the same time encouraging open assailment of other religions by Muslims around the world.
Durban I was an embarrassment to the UN and to the civilized world. An estimated 6,000 representatives of some 2,000 UN-selected non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had their expenses paid by the U.N.
The patent bias against the West and Israel left Durban I without moral or political influence in developed countries, despite participation by NGOs such as the American Bar Association, American Friends Service Committee, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Amnesty International, Arab Lawyers Union, Arab Women’s Federation, Association of Islamic Women Jurists, Black Radical Congress (USA), Canada’s Alternatives Group, various Green Parties, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, Nigerian Environmental Society, Oxfam, Sierra Club (USA), Socialists International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Peace Council, World Trade Organisation (WTO), and so on.
Well-represented among the NGO delegates at Durban I were radical leftists, anarchists, and Muslims. Their condemnation of colonialism managed to omit Russia’s recent incursions into Eastern European countries including Ukraine, Armenia, and Georgia.
They also omitted China’s control of Tibet.
No mention was made of the decades of Islamic terrorist/suicide bombers and the killing of innocent men, women, and children in Israel and around the world. No mention was made of the persecution and killings of Christians and other non-Muslims in Muslim nations, such as Egypt, Indonesia, Kosovo (UN-created entity), Nigeria, Pakistan, and Sudan. No mention was made of free speech, only condemnation of “hate” speech, defined as any words that may be interpreted as critical of Islam.
No mention was made of violations of the human rights of Christians by Muslim governments. The African nations chose to forget that it was the losing warriors in African tribal wars that were sold into slavery — a market managed not by Europeans and Americans but by Arabs and Africans. Although African nations wanted to include in the Durban I documents their demand for reparations, the measure was defeated by European delegates.
In 2006, a resolution by the U.N. Human Rights Council reiterated its acceptance of the Durban I documents (Declaration and Program of Action). The Council called for a Durban II conference to come up with concrete measures to implement the 72-page document with its 473 vitriolic paragraphs — largely unread by Durban I delegates.
Durban II: Geneva, Switzerland, April 2009
Canada and Israel have declined to participate in the upcoming Durban II Conference.
On Febr. 14, 2009, the U.S. State Department announced that the United States would attend the February 16-19, 2009, preparatory sessions of the U.N.-sponsored World Conference against Racism, also known as Durban II. This move, in essence, reversed the Bush administration’s walkout of Durban I. The announcement, which came on a Saturday (a notoriously slow news day), was reported, but only by foreign newsmedia.
Among Obama’s advisers on Durban documents are U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, an advocate for active participation in U.N. human rights functions, and Samantha Power, an Obama security adviser, who was a Durban I attendee as an NGO representative.
The Obama administration meant to change the course of the conference documents away from the strident anti-West, anti-Israel rhetoric of Durban I; however, the executive committee of the preparatory sessions was chaired by Libya with Cuba, Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan as vice-chairs.
As a result, documents prepared for Durban II likely will define racism as any comment, opinion, writing, report, or statement that Muslims decide is anti-Islamic or critical of Islam. The upcoming conference will not permit any designation of a terrorist as a Muslim.
Infidels (that is, non-Muslims) will be prohibited from making any statement, voicing any opinion, writing any piece, or depicting anything that a Muslim might find offensive. With free speech so defined by a UN mandate, erosion of the sovereignty of non-Muslim nations may well have begun. Already Islamic law (shar’ia) is moving to supplant national laws, upfront in Britain and sub-rosa in many Western countries, even the United States and Canada.
The Durban Threat to Democracies and Free Speech
Anne Bayefsky, a Hudson Institute writer and Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada, makes a somber prediction for Durban II, whose decisions could attempt to undercut democracies and do away with free speech. Also undercut could be national security efforts, as they will be classified as hampering “progress in the collective struggle against racism.”
Any reference to Muslim terrorists could be considered prejudicial to Muslim well-being and therefore punishable by U.N. mandate. Although Islamic terror against the West and Israel is well documented, any efforts to stop Islamic terror attacks could be condemned as “xenophobic aggression.”
The professor’s predictive powers are keen. As early as August 2008, Bayefsky warned in the National Review Online: “The nub of the Obama-Democratic foreign policy, therefore, amounts to this. Wish the unpleasant facts go away. Or when the anti-Semitism is shouted in your face, ask your interlocutor to repeat it, as if you must have heard it wrong the first time.”
Facile rhetoric by the Obama administration will not solve the root cause of demonization and hatred of the United States, Israel, and the West. Political Pollyanna efforts by the Obama administration for hope and change will not solve the fundamental goal of an Islamic world caliphate. Western politicians lack an understanding of the fanaticism and determination of the Islamists.
Look for Gaza to be on the table at Durban II in Geneva. Gaza will never be peaceful as long as Islam finds the non-Muslim world feckless. There will always be a Gaza brewing somewhere in the world as a tactic in the struggle toward a world caliphate with the authority of the United Nations, aided and abetted by Durban I and Durban II.
For the world’s sake, the prejudices of Muslim nations and their supportive NGOs must not be allowed to dominate Durban II, regardless of whether the United States attends or not. At last count, the United States remains the major funder of the United Nations and should not stand by, letting past become prologue.
James H. Walsh is a former federal prosecutor.
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