The Washington Post, Friday, February 20, 2009 carried a story that gravely falsified the facts surrounding the Obama Administration's participation in the UN's Durban II "anti-racism" conference. 


The article by Colum Lynch, entitled "U.S. Holds Firm on Reparations, Israel in U.N. Racism Talks," led with these words:  "The Obama administration on Thursday concluded its first round of politically charged U.N. negotiations on racism, pressing foreign desist from singling out Israel for criticism in a draft declaration to be presented at a U.N. conference in April." 


The article then quoted from a member of the Obama delegation, Felice Gaer (American Jewish Committee):  "The administration "is pushing back against efforts to brand Israel as racist in this conference," Gaer said in an interview."


In fact, the Obama administration did nothing of the kind. As reported by Anne Bayefsky, Editor,, the American delegation did not object to the proposal from the Palestinian delegation for a paragraph on Palestinians.  Here is what Bayefsky has reported, all statements having been made, and actions taken, in a public session of the Durban II planning committee.


Thursday, February 19, 2009 "Durban II Planning"

        ...a paragraph the Palestinian delegation proposed Tuesday in the presence of the American representatives: 

Palestine: I would like to propose a new paragraph which reads as follows: 

Calls for an end of all actions violating international human rights and humanitarian law, the respect for the principle of self-determination and an end of all suffering. Calls also for implementation of international legal obligations, including the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall, and the international protection of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.  

Chair: Now let’s move on to paragraph . . .

Dead silence again, despite the fact that an objection could have made a real difference by putting the paragraph unequivocally in dispute. Everybody knew that there was no other country-specific provision in the 250-paragraph-plus document. Yet there were no comments objecting to the idea of singling out Israel in an anti-racism manifesto, and no call for a paragraph decrying racism in any other state.  

As Bayefsky pointed out the U.S. delegation made no effort to object to the proposal to include this in Durban II's final document, despite the fact that it specifically objected to other provisions and proposals over the four-day meeting. As she reports, the U.S. delegation "sat in silence while Israel was singled out as guilty of racism — again."

Bayefsky also notes that there is no doubt about what it means to include Palestinians in Durban II.  "The new paragraph is scheduled to appear in a section called “Identification of further concrete measures and initiatives at all levels for combating and eliminating all manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance . . .” with the subtitle “General provisions on victims and grounds of discrimination.” 

The US should join Canada and Israel  in refusing to attend Durban II, as well as the many countries in Europe such as England and Italy who have indicated that they would leave with America if President Obama would go with them.  Standing for real victims of human rights, Mr. President, means walking away from Durban.


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