Here in Geneva, Switzerland, I am at one of the grand homes of the United Nations, the Palais des Nations. The place is grand, the intepretation into six languages simultaneously is excellent, and the webcasting of the proceedings around the world for free is impressive. The only problem is what is actually being said.
This week and last is the second Durban II PrepCom - that's UN-eze for the preparatory committee of the Durban Review Conference - or in short, another racist anti-racism bonanza. The PrepCom - chaired by that distinguished human rights-respecting state Libya - has just released the first Draft Outcome Document. In other words, they sit around and negotiate what they hope will be agreed to by the states attending the conference itself, scheduled to take place in April 2009 in Geneva.
Surprise! The Draft Outcome Document contains nine paragraphs condemning Israel. Here is what it includes:
â¢ accusations that Israel is guilty of apartheid, crimes against humanity and genocide
â¢ allegations that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism
â¢ the accusation that Zionism is racism by referring to a “racially based law of return”
â¢ claims of a right of return that would end the Jewishness of the state of Israel
â¢ and an effort to end Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.
By the way, there aren't any draft paragraphs condemning any other state.
Naturally, the representatives of various Arab and Muslim states have stated their support for these paragraphs and proposed more. But sitting at the back of the room with other NGOs, aka "representatives of civil society," I am left wondering what has happened to the European Union? Why is their French spokesperson afraid to say immediately, out loud -- these allegations are a gross defamation of Israel, a slander against the Jewish people, and antisemitism dressed up as human rights? Why have the members of the European Union failed to point out that one-fifth of Israel’s population is Arab with more democratic rights than in any Arab state, while Arab states are now effectively Judenrein. Given that the UN calls Jews in Palestinian lands the crime of Judaization, why has the European Union not noted with concern that there is no reference to ‘apartheid Palestine’?
In fairness, the French did make the following peep: "we would ask that square brackets be placed around paragraphs 108 to 111."
It is not surprising that the human rights abusers are engaged in this exercise. The real surprise - and embarrassment - is to watch the members of the European Union sit here and commence a diplomatic dialogue for and against contemporary forms of antisemitism, for and against Zionism, for and against freedom of expression, for and against the war to defeat terrorism.
What are Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy doing at preparations for Durban II? Canada, the U.S. and Israel are rightly staying away. But the EU is legitimizing this anti-human rights forum. They are lending credibility to these discussions, which are broadcast around the world. Their citizens’ hard-earned dollars are paying the costs of over one-third of these proceedings. They should be ashamed - but no surprise - they're not.
Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute and Executive Director of Eye On The UN. (www.eyeontheun.org)