September 5, 2001, Durban —
European Union May Leave If No Acceptable Compromise Language Can Be Found
The European Union remains actively engaged in seeking a compromise on the Middle East language in the closed-door negotiations aiming to rescue the conference. At this writing, the deadline of 5:00 p.m. local time (Wednesday September 5) set by the EU (just extended by two hours) is passing without any news of a breakthrough. France and the EU representatives have indicated they, too, would walkout if a compromise was not reached. According to Foreign Minister Louis Michel of Belguim, all 15 member-states would leave if a compromise is not reached and the 13 other prospective EU members would likely be recruited to leave as well.
U.S. Civil Rights Groups Decry Anti-Semitic Sentiments at Conference
At a press conference today, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a diverse coalition of civil and human rights organizations, condemned anti-Semitic sentiments expressed at the conference as "repugnant and reprehensible." Karen Narasaki of the National Asian Pacific Legal Consortium, William Spriggs of the National Urban League, Joan Chase of the National Network of Grantmakers, and Michael Posner of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, joined LCCR in declaring the NGO conference process as so tainted as to be illegitimate. The executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Barbara Arnwine, announced her resignation from the NGO Drafting Committee because of procedural flaws and unfair treatment of the Jewish Caucus.
The Central and East European NGO Caucus also condemned the NGO document language as "unacceptable," and a "deliberate distortion" contrary to the spirit of the conference.
African Organizations Adopt Anti-Israel Slogans
The Palestinian equation of Israel with apartheid South Africa is taking hold among African organizations. Today, leaflets in the International Conference Center where the government conference is being held were headlines "Down with the Nazi-Israeli Apartheid!" published by the Afro-Brazilian National Congress.
Vicious Anti-Israel, Anti-American Cartoon Published in Arab Newspaper