Australia’s Jewish leaders are urging the federal government to boycott a United Nations conference against racism.
In a resolution passed unanimously Monday at the Executive Council of Australian Jewryâ€™s annual conference in Sydney, the council said Australia should join Israel and Canada in withdrawing from the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Geneva because it â€œstrongly believesâ€ Australia will not be able to positively influence the outcome.
The conference scheduled to be held next year is a review of the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, which was held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 and degenerated into â€œvirulent anti-Semitic behavior,â€ according to the council.
The council in its resolution, which was sent Tuesday to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, said it believed the â€œworst elements from the Durban I conference may be included or even accentuatedâ€ in Geneva, which has been dubbed “Durban II.”
The working document produced ahead of the 2009 conference singles out Israel for unwarranted criticism, the resolution said.
Although the council commends the â€œprincipled standâ€ adopted by Australia in opposing any budget allocation for Durban II, it notes the â€œhigh possibilityâ€ that the conference will â€œconstitute an unwarranted and illegitimate attack on Western democratic freedoms, international human rights law, and an attack on Israel.â€
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said last month that the government was concerned that anti-Semitism could mar the conference, but that Australia had not yet decided whether to attend.