News Brief

The upcoming U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Geneva is likely to single out Israel for criticism.

Observers expect next week’s forum, strongly influenced by Islamic countries, to once again gang up on Israel, the latest effort to isolate the country on the international stage.

“Demonization and de-legitimization of Israel happens daily at the U.N. Human Rights Council, so I can’t see how this will be any different,” one Jewish analyst said this week.

This two-week event, chaired by Libya, is actually a “preparatory conference” for a global gathering that will take place in 2009. The last such event, in 2001 in Durban, South Africa, became so politicized while singling out Israel for the worst violations of international law, that both the American and Israeli delegations walked out.

This time around, while the Jewish state will almost surely receive disproportionate attention, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference is expected to renew its campaign to curtail freedom of speech and expression in order to counter “Islamophobia” and “blasphemy” – as epitomized by a series of Danish cartoons in 2005 and a Dutch film earlier this year, which were both seen as defaming Islam itself.

Blasphemy “would turn the clock back a few hundred years, so we’re obviously opposed to that,” said Ronald Eissens, of the Dutch watchdog ICARE/Internet Center Anti-Racism Europe. “This conference could be interesting or boring, depending on if the African countries go along with the OIC, and if the Europeans show their teeth”.

Among the Jewish groups likely represented at the Geneva event will be UN Watch, the European Union of Jewish Students, B’nai Brith, Hadassah, and others.

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