On Durban, PresCon Hearts Obama


Here’s what the President’s Conference has to say about how the Obama administration is approaching Durban II. Not to get too kremlinological on you, but "series of meetings" plus "confident that they will draw the right conclusion" to my conspiratorial mind equals "we’ve been told the United States will not attend."

New York, February 26, 2009…

After a series of meetings with key administration officials, Alan Solow, Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that they were confident that the administration would take the necessary actions to fulfill the commitment made by President Obama during the campaign regarding U.S. participation in the Durban Review Conference scheduled for April in Geneva, Switzerland.  

“We believe that the administration is engaged in a serious process relative to the Durban conference with full recognition of the concerns of the community,” said Solow and Hoenlein. 

The Conference of Presidents wrote to Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice urging the administration to announce that it could not participate in the Durban II conference given the circumstances that had been created in the preparatory committee meetings.  The draft documents single out Israel again in the same manner that took place at the original Durban conference, which forced a U.S. walkout. 

“We know that many European countries are waiting for the U.S. decision, which we believe will be forthcoming,” said the Conference leaders.  “The administration sent a delegation to observe the most recent preparatory committee meeting in Geneva, and we are confident that they will draw the right conclusion.  The process is so flawed and the direction appears to be irreversible at this time.”   

The Conference of Presidents letters stated that the “red lines” established by the European Union regarding the criteria for participation have all been violated and that submissions from all the preparatory committee sessions has made clear that they do not intend this to be a true conference addressing the issues of bigotry and racism, but rather a vehicle for abhorrent attacks on Israel and an effort to limit freedom of speech under the “guise of the defamation of religion.”   

“We believe time is of the essence in order to enable other countries to act as well and to make the message very clear to those responsible for hijacking the conference, that it is doomed to failure by virtue of their actions.  At a time when anti-Semitism is rising, the Durban II conference must not be allowed to add fuel to the fire, as it did in 2001.  The blueprint for much of what we have witnessed in recent years was put forward at the Durban conference, including the attempts to delegitimize and demonize Israel.  The discussions we held with the administration left us assured that they are approaching this in a forthright way and the concerns we expressed are well understood and shared.”

The leaders also said that the discussions indicated the U.S. government was prepared to work with whatever government Israel chose, and were not interfering in the domestic Israeli process of choosing its next Prime Minister.

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