After important and highly productive meetings with the European Union Presidency, the European Jewish Congress (EJC) today called upon the European Presidency to take the principled and correct step and withdraw from the upcoming Durban II conference scheduled to take place in Geneva in April.
In calling upon the European Presidency and European nations to boycott next month’s Durban II conference, EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor stated: “Based upon the important efforts and statements made by European leaders to stamp out the scourge of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, there is simply no alternative other than a boycott of Durban II by the EU Presidency and EU nations.”
Kantor continued, “European officials have made important statement that racism must not be tolerated. EU leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others truly committed to protecting human rights and preventing racism and xenophobia, should, like Italy, announce their withdrawal from Durban II without delay.” He added: “Specifically, we urge the European Presidency to act according to its own guidelines and therefore boycott Durban II, and encourage European nations to follow suit.”
The chief planners for Durban II are a 20-strong panel, chaired by Libya and comprise a diverse group that includes countries ranked among the worst offenders of human rights, among them Iran, Pakistan and Cuba.
As such, one example of what may be expected at the upcoming Durban II conference can be seen through the results of a recent committee tasked with drafting for Durban II, whereby Iran and Syria asked that provisions against Holocaust-denial be deleted. Syria also requested that mention of the Holocaust should be minimized as the Syrians claimed that there is “no agreement on the consensus on the percentage of those who perished in the Holocaust.”
EJC President Kantor noted, “The fact that Holocaust denial is gaining a prominent place at a United Nations-sponsored conference ostensibly devoted to combating racism is troubling and beyond hypocritical.” Kantor explained, “It is nothing short of a Kafka-esque scenario when some of the world’s worst human rights abusers are not only let off the hook, but chair an international conference on the issue.”
Dr. Kantor added, “For over a year, European leaders have made important ejc-in-action>statements that they will not tolerate the virulent anti-Semitism that was on display at the first Durban conference. The Durban II committees have had ample time to prevent a repeat of the debacle from the first Durban conference. However, with only a few weeks left before the UN conference convenes, and no wholesale improvements on the draft language expected, Europeans are waiting for their elected officials to show their leadership on human rights and anti-Semitism by announcing that they will not take part in Durban II.”