Iran is seeking to block Canada’s leading Jewish advocacy group from a U.N. conference on racism.
On Monday, the United Nation’s “Durban II” conference on racism opened a two-week preparatory session in Geneva.
According to the Geneva-based monitoring group U.N. Watch, Iran opposes the accreditation request by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy.
Monday’s opening sessions included a 2 1/2-hour debate on the council’s application. Egypt, Pakistan, Algeria and the delegation from the Palestinian Authority lined up with Iran, while European Union members, principally Germany, Belgium and Slovenia, supported the accreditation request.
The request was submitted last year, before the Canadian government announced it would boycott Durban II. Ottawa feared it would be a replay of the 2001 Durban parley, which it assailed as “a circus of intolerance” directed mainly at Israel.
The U.N. Human Rights Council has asked the Canadian Council to respond to Iran’s position. Another debate on the organization’s accreditation will take place in a week.
“We are now defending our own name and our own record,” the Canadian Council’s CEO, Hershell Ezrin, told JTA.
Ezrin said Iran is objecting in part because the Canadian Council is not involved in anti-racism or anti-discrimination work.
Iran’s actions also may be partly motivated by Canada’s lead role in a December U.N. General Assembly resolution that spoke out for victims of Iranian human rights violations, said U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.