Bulgaria opts out of Durban IV Conference citing antisemitism

Bulgaria will not participate in the UN event marking 20 years since the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, bringing the number of countries boycotting the event over its antisemitic content to a dozen.

“Bulgaria will not participate in the UNGA high-level meeting on the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action,” the country’s foreign ministry tweeted. “Given the history of the process, there’s a risk that the forum could be misused for antisemitic propaganda. We stay committed to fighting racism in all its forms and manifestation.”

Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan thanked Bulgaria, tweeting: “The Jewish people appreciate your friendship.”

The event, which is known as Durban IV, is set to take place in late September, on the sidelines of the opening session of the 76th United Nations General Assembly. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett plans to take part in the General Debate, in which national leaders and foreign ministers give speeches.

Countries other than Bulgaria opting out of Durban IV are Israel, the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, the UK, Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and France.

Countries that have boycotted Durban Review Conferences in the past but have yet to announce their position this year are Italy and New Zealand, as well as Poland, with which Israel is embroiled in a diplomatic quarrel over Holocaust property restitution issues.

The original Durban Conference in 2001 singled Israel out as a perpetrator of racism in its official declaration. Earlier drafts had also called Zionism a form of racism.

The conference’s NGO Forum called Israel an apartheid state. Participants distributed antisemitic materials at the event, including the antisemitic conspiracy theory text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and flyers saying the world would be a better place if Hitler had won World War II.

At the 2009 Durban II Conference, then-president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and said it was a “pretext” for Israel to oppress Palestinians. He was invited to speak again at Durban III in 2011.

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