The decision by the United States to boycott the United Nations’ conference on racism in April – dubbed Durban II -- has won praise by Israel and many of its supporters in the United States.
"Durban II is a cynical conference that is entirely anti-Semitic and anti-Israel under the guise of combating racism," Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in a statement released March 1. "The U.S. government's decision is a genuine, courageous expression of its values as the leader of the free world, and this decision needs to point the way for other countries that share those same values."
The United States participated in preliminary talks for the conference but pulled out after the draft document took on the anti-Israel tone of the 2001Durban Declaration and Program of Action, according to acting State Department spokesman Robert Wood.
An acceptable document to be used as the basis of deliberations must not single out any one country or conflict or “embrace the troubling concept of ‘defamation of religion,’” and it should not take the issue of reparations for slavery any further than the DDPA, Woods said. The United States is prepared to re-engage if a revised document meets these criteria, he added.
In the wake of the United States’ decision, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the U.N. Human Rights Council that the conference has been attacked by a lobbying campaign and disparaged by the media – moves she called “unwarranted,” according to The Associated Press.
Several Jewish Groups in the United States, which had protested U.S. participation in the conference, reacted to the boycott decision with praise.
“The event, which has again proven to be a celebration of racism and vile anti-Semitic activity, is further evidence of the U.N.'s inability to demonstrate any semblance of fairness or objectivity on these issues when it comes to the Jewish State,” the American Israel Public Action Committee, said in a statement. “President Obama's decision not to send U.S. representation to the April event is the right thing to do and underscores America's unstinting commitment to combating intolerance and racism in all its forms and in all settings.”
The State Department also expressed concern that the UN Human Rights Council’s repeated criticisms of Israel are unbalanced. Nonetheless, it plans to participate in the council’s meetings later this month.
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