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Press ReleaseIsrael/Middle East
ADL Urges U.N. Members to Reject Anti-Israel Focus at Forum Against Racism

New York, NY, May 18, 2001 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged nations participating in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism to reject efforts to resurrect the "Zionism is racism" charge against Israel. Government officials are gathering in Geneva on May 21st to finalize the Draft Program for the conference being held in Durban, South Africa, in August.

The current Draft Declaration and Program of Action of the conference rails against what they call "racist Zionist practices," "Zionist practices against Semites," equates the Holocaust with "ethnic cleansing of the Arab population in historic Palestine."

Glen A. Tobias, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued this message in a letter to each of the foreign ministers of the U.N. Western European and Others Group of nations:

Unfortunately, some governments are seeking to abuse the mission of the conference to criticize Israel and to resurrect the old, discredited "Zionism = Racism" language. Secretary General Kofi Annan himself has said this formula represents a "low point" for the U.N. and was roundly rejected by the U.N. a decade ago. This divisive, offensive equation is based on hatred and misunderstanding. It has no place in the fight against racism and threatens to undermine the important work of this conference.

Peace in the Middle East cannot be moved forward in any way by using this Conference to criticize one side or another. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can proceed only among the parties themselves. Further, there is an international understanding that delegates would reject any country-specific references because they would politicize the Conference and abuse its humanitarian mission. Breaching that understanding would deprive the most vulnerable victims of racism, who suffer in isolation from human rights and rule of law mechanisms, of an important opportunity.

The Second Preparatory Meeting in Geneva, from May 21st - June 1st , will be critical in determining whether the 2001 Conference is to move beyond the "Zionism is Racism" era and the abusive politicization of the process to address serious issues of racism and hatred. We call on your government to use its leverage to resist, denounce, and work vigorously against efforts which detract from this vital mission and undermine the fight against bigotry.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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