German groups urge boycott of Durban II


BERLIN (JTA) — Three German organizations are pressing Germany to boycott the upcoming United Nations anti-racism conference.

In a statement issued Monday, the groups said Germany must not legitimize what is likely to be an anti-Semitic event. The Durban Review Conference is being held next month in Geneva.

Calling the conference a "likely anti-Semitic failure," the Jewish community of Berlin and the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism, as well as the Coordinating Council of German NGOs Against Anti-Semitism, said Germany must join with the United States, Israel, Canada and Italy in staying home.

The event is a follow-up to the anti-racism conference of 2001 held in Durban, South Africa. It was widely condemned as anti-Semitic after many participating nongovernmental organizations placed special scrutiny on Israel and attacked Jewish organizations and their representatives at the conference.

Critics said the upcoming event appears no better. Its proposed concluding resolution contains "extreme, hate-filled accusations” about Israel that can be described as anti-Semitic according to the criterion established by the German Bundestag on Nov. 4, 2008, the three groups said in their statement.

A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told reporters last week that Germany intended to continue its participation in negotiations over the text of the resolution.

In related news, France appeared to be pressing for a common European decision about whether to attend. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier told the European Jewish Press that France wanted to work "within the process of cooperation of Durban to avoid it becoming a place of tensions instead of defending human rights."

Nobel Prize-winning writer Elie Wiesel told the Israeli daily Ha’aretz last week that anti-Israel, anti-Semitic resolutions would be more harmful to the reputation of the United Nations than to Israel.

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