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Dateline Durban:
UN World Conference Against Racism


Dateline Durban:
Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Language Prompts U.S. and Israel to Leave U.N. Conference
U.S., Israel Walk out of U.N. Conference
Jewish Caucus Walks Out of NGO Forum
Human Rights Community Criticizes NGO Process, Language on Jewish Issues
Civil Rights Community Expresses Support

September 4, 2001, Durban —

U.S., Israel Walk out of U.N. Conference

After four days of deadlocked negotiations, the US and Israel made a decision that efforts to negotiate a compromise on anti-Jewish and anti-Israel language in the Conference Draft declaration had hit a wall.
Excerpts from NGO Document That Prompted Walkout
ADL commended the Bush Administration's decision to pull out of the conference, which had become mired in efforts to introduce anti-Israel rhetoric.

Neutral language drafted by the government of Norway garnered some support by delegates, but after Syrian, Iranian, Palestinian and other delegations continued to demand new anti-Israel language and sought to remove language on anti-Semitism, it became clear that diplomatic efforts were going nowhere.

In announcing Israel's decision to pull out of the conference in Durban, Israeli ambassador Mordechai Yedid delivered a statement on behalf of Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchoir.
Deputy Foreign Minister Melchior's Statement
The Israeli delegation said that the continuing efforts to use the U.N. conference as a forum to unfairly criticize Israel made its participation impossible. "Can there be a greater irony than the fact that a conference convened to combat the scourge of racism should give rise to the most racist declaration in a major international organization since the Second World War?" said the statement.

Following the Israeli and American pullout, the Jewish Caucus in Durban formally withdrew from the conference. ADL has maintained one representative on the ground to monitor developments through the conclusion of the conference.

Jewish Caucus Walks Out of NGO Forum

At the concluding plenary of the NGO Forum, a key paragraph on anti-Semitism was stripped from the document by a unanimous vote. The ADL delegation led Jewish delegates in a chant of "shame, shame, shame" and the caucus walked out. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, called the accusations of Israel inappropriate but did not reject the document outright.

The paragraph removed by the vote, which prompted the walkout, was as follows:

We are concerned with the prevalence of anti-Zionism and attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel through wildly inaccurate charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, as a virulent contemporary form of anti-Semitism leading to firebombing of synagogues, armed assaults against Jews, incitements to killing, and the murder of innocent Jews, for their support for the existence of the State of Israel, the assertion of the right to self determination of the Jewish people and the attempts, through the State of Israel, to preserve their cultural and religious identity.

Human Rights Community Criticizes NGO Process, Language on Jewish Issues

Representatives from human-rights organizations including the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch held a news conference criticizing the NGO conference process including the treatment of Jewish issues in the document. Unfortunately, these concerns were raised only two days after the conclusion of the NGO forum.

Civil Rights Community Expresses Support

A coalition of groups let by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the National Asian Pacific Legal Consortium plan a news conference on Wednesday to express outrage at the anti-Jewish language and the targeting of Jewish participants at the WCAR. At least one U.S. civil rights leader on the 8-member NGO drafting committee planned to resign over the inciteful and inappropriate language put forward by the forum.


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Reports from Durban Conference
Durban Update: Final Declaration Recognizes Palestinian Right of Return; Omits Language Critical of Israel (09/8/01)
Durban Update: Parties Deadlocked on Mideast (09/07/01)
Conference Continues Without U.S. and Israel (09/05/01)
Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Language Prompts U.S., Israel to Leave U.N. Conference (09/04/01)
Opening Day of the UN World Conference On Racism (08/31/01)
Anti-Israel Hecklers Interrupt Press Conference (08/30/01)
Anti-Israel Rhetoric Prevalent at the U.N. World Conference Against Racism (08/29/01)
Background on
Durban Conference
About the UN World Conference Against Racism
ADL Call to Conscience for All Nations
Background on Anti-Zionism at the United Nations
What is Zionism?
World Figures Refute the Zionism=Racism Charge
The Draft Declaration: Unfair Charges of Racism Against Israel
ADL Statements on Durban
ADL Letters to Media about the U.N. World Conference
Durban Derailed into a Conference of Hate
Abraham H. Foxman on the Durban Conference
Press Releases:

ADL Commends U.S. Rejection of Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Bias of U.N. Conference Against Racism (8/27/01)

ADL Urges Congress To Reject Incendiary Language Against Jews, Israel At Upcoming U.N. Conference Against Racism (7/31/01)

ADL Urges Foreign Ministers to Reject Anti-Jewish Rhetoric at U.N. Conference on Racism (7/17/01)

ADL Urges U.N. Members to Reject Anti-Israel Focus at Forum Against Racism (5/18/01)

Letters:
ADL to President George W.Bush

ADL to Foreign Ministers of U.N. Members

Resources
Related ADL Articles:
Israel and the UN

Related Web Sites:
UN World Conference Against Racism

The United Nations
 
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