Durban II declaration criticized

NEW YORK (JTA) – A United Nations watchdog group urged the organization to reject the draft declaration for its upcoming racism conference.

“Just like in 2001, the proposed declaration veers off its mandate in order to single out Israel for opprobrium, and more generally indicts Western democracies,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of  U.N. Watch, an affiliate of the American Jewish Committee. “But it’s actually worse than 2001 because now Islamic states have inserted language seeking to delegitimize counter-terrorism efforts as racist, and to censor free speech in order to prevent what they call the ‘defamation of Islam.’ ”

U.N. Watch called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights, to reject the declaration.

The April conference, commonly known as Durban II, is a follow-up to the 2001 Durban anti-racism conference, ostensibly a conclave intended to combat racism and discrimination but which degenerated into an anti-Jewish carnival with classically anti-Semitic caricatures of rapacious Jews and blatantly discriminatory acts against Jewish participants.

Concern that the follow-up conference would be a repeat of 2001 has led Canada and Israel to announce they will not participate. Last month, the Dutch foreign minister said his country may also skip the conference.

According to The Associated Press, Maxime Verhagen told a Dutch radio station that the conference’s sole intention appeared to be criticism of Israel and the United States.

“We will take every opportunity at this time to fight racism and discrimination, but we will not be used for a propaganda circus,” Verhagen said.

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