Berman backs Durban II prep


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A top Jewish congressman praised the Obama administration for participating in preparations for the upcoming U.N. anti-racism conference.

"It is critical that the United States regain its moral voice at the U.N. by jumping into the fray and stipulating clear redlines for re-focusing Durban II, including the removal of language in the Outcome Document attacking Israel or singling it out for criticism," U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday in a statement. "We should continue challenging the status quo at the U.N. by re-engaging in and restructuring its human rights mechanisms in order to break the choke-hold that non-democratic states currently have on them.”

U.S. Jewish groups are wary of the Obama administration’s decision to join the Durban process. Bitter memories linger of the original conference in South Africa and its devolution into an anti-Jewish, anti-Israel free-for-all.

The domination of the new conference’s preparations until now by anti-Israel nations such as Iran have led some groups to call on the United States to boycott the proceedings. Israel and Canada already have said they will not attend the conference, to be held in April in Geneva, and France and the Netherlands also are considering not attending.

Top Obama officials this week reassured the Jewish leadership in a conference call, saying that if there is no sign that the process is reforming, the United States will not attend. The United States walked out on the 2001 conference before its conclusion.

Recommended from JTA