Two Republican House leaders are urging a boycott the Durban II conference, saying the U.S. shouldn’t be fooled by any changes to the conference’s draft declaration. Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Commitee, and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, write on RedState:
Accepting reality, the Administration announced that the draft document was “unsalvageable,” and that the U.S. would not take part in further preparatory meetings or in the conference itself, unless there is a significant shift in the poisonous atmosphere and in the document to be issued. Shortly thereafter, Italy made a similar decision, and the EU and Australia have also threatened to stay away.
Facing the loss of international legitimacy, the rogue regimes are now trying to conceal their hateful, bigoted intent through smoke-and-mirrors. A newly-proposed draft declaration omits references to Israel, but in its very first paragraph, it reaffirms the 2001 declaration in its entirety – thereby reiterating that text’s anti-Israel bias and providing a foundation for Israel-bashing to again dominate the conference itself. Restrictions on free speech also remain. And, should this move convince wavering states to attend, dictatorships can always sneak in further hateful provisions at the last minute.
We must not succumb to this bait-and-switch. It is time for the U.S. and our allies to unequivocally deny all legitimacy to Durban II. This is not a time for half-measures, for criticizing some parts of Durban II while praising others, or for staying away while continuing to fund the proceedings. The stakes are too high – if we do not reject the conference in its totality, we will legitimize hatred and undermine true efforts to combat bigotry and intolerance.
With just one month until Durban II begins, the right way forward is clear. We have introduced House Resolution 42, calling on the Administration to publicly declare that the U.S. will neither fund nor participate in Durban II. It also urges other responsible nations to take the same path. Towards that end, last June we met with foreign and U.S. diplomats, Members of Congress, and NGOs to discuss other opportunities to fight hatred – and our efforts continue.
The case of Durban II tests how far we have come in rejecting all prejudice – no matter what form it takes. Now, not later, we must stand up and repudiate this circus, refusing to let political expediency trump real progress.