Last Wednesday, April 22, I participated in a rally in Geneva in a very symbolic location: behind me the huge UN building with its 192 flags, which has just been soiled by Iranian president Ahmadinejad's speech. In front of me, was a public showing its support for life and for the only democracy in the Middle East. The rally was promoted by a large number of international organizations protesting the works of the "UN Durban Review Conference Against Racism and Discrimination," better known as "Durban II," which eventually ended last Friday boycotted by 10 countries. The rally was aimed also at celebrating the 60th Anniversary of UN Resolution 273, which admitted Israel as a peace-loving state to the UN.
On that stage, the Vice-president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Parliament, I represented Italy in its courageous choice not to attend the Conference, the first European country to pull out of it, and paving the way for a major European Union consciousness of this umpteenth farce in the name of human rights, which was taking place within the UN framework, and this time in the core of Europe, Geneva.
The conference opened on April 20 with Ahmadinejad's anti-Israeli inflammatory speech. Our rally was attended such by memorable personalities in the struggle for human rights as Natan Sharansky, former Soviet Refusenik; an Israeli Cabinet Minister, and Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian Justice Minister. In the public, among many groups, were Sudanese refugees, some of them living now in Israel, and also Iranian dissidents.
It was a moving moment. As I said from the stage, I participated in that rally with pride and sorrow at the same time. In sorrow for the people of Darfur, Cuba, Tibet, Iran, victims of daily racism and discrimination that do not have a stage to make their voice heard. If someone thought, before this conference, that this stage could be the UN, well, the last illusion has gone.
And with pride because Italy, my own Nation, has shown with great farsightedness how a democracy with moral clarity could absolutely not participate in Durban II, after having witnessed Durban I.
It is time for Europe to adopt a policy to contrast the anti-Semitic and anti-Western drift of many international organizations that define themselves as struggling for human rights, the UN first of all.
Here is the speech I prepared for the rally, and that of course I didn't deliver as I spoke off the cuff...
I come here in pride and in sorrow.
In sorrow for the people of Darfur, Cuba, Tibet, Iran, suffering racism and discrimination who cannot have a stage to speak from. If someone thought, before this conference, that it could be the UN, well, the last illusion has gone.
But I also come in pride.
Italy, my own Nation, where I am a member of the Parliament was the first European nation to realize, after the US and Canada, how a democracy with moral clarity could absolutely not participate in this Durban II, after having witnessed Durban I.
We have tried hard, with the unanimous vote in our Parliament and with the declaration of Mr. Franco Frattini, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, to make the rest of Europe converge toward the abandonment of an anti-Semitic conference aimed at denying the legitimacy of the only democracy in the Middle East.
We thought that Europe could have fought together for a good document, but we did not succeed. Only Germany, Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic followed us, at the latest stage. The others gave a good image of democratic faith when they left Ahmedinejad’s speech in horror
I really hoped not to see them go back to their seats, but they could not accept that it was the whole purpose of the conference - and not just the Iranian president to start again - one of the murderous campaigns of the UN against Israel and the Jews.
Friends, I was in Durban in 2001. I saw in astonishment Jews chased by the NGOs, crowds of delegates supporting a document of pure hate against Israel and the US, preached by dictators such Mugabe, Castro and Arafat. I still have the photocopy of Arafat’s handwritten speech, affirming that Israel is the creation of all the colonialist and imperialist powers, intended - just to dominate and exploit the Palestinians - a racist country. The NGOS marched under the picture of Bin Laden, and in four days the Twin Towers attack took place.
Terrible times, terrible campaigns of hate.
But still that campaign, aimed at destroying Israel and the Western values, was not as terrible as the one of this conference. Here the wish to destroy is backed by a fearless, cruel Jihadist propaganda and is armed today with thousands of missiles that can arrive in Tel Aviv accompanied by the construction of an Iranian nuclear power.
Israel, for those who know history, has tried since November 1947 UN resolution 181, to offer peace to its neighbors. They, on the contrary, have always tried to destroy it. Countries which have accepted peace, like Egypt and Jordan, have received peace for land. And those countries who refused it, like Hamas and Hezbollah, had faced the strong self-defense of the Jewish people, ruled by moral, clear limitations.
Israel is a solid, vibrant democracy wishing for peace. But the UN has inverted this simple concept to the one proposed by its enemies: a country unworthy of living.
And in this spirit, the UN has avoided since the ’50s, to clearly condemning anti-Semitism. Thirty percent of UN resolutions condemn the Jewish state; an average of 6 out of 10 resolutions of the Human Rights Council deal with Israel, adhering to all the stereotypes of racism and wild colonialism to delegitimate its existence.
With its freedom, solidarity and love for life Israel is a source of inspiration for any democracy.
The slogan of Hamas is, “We are going to win, because they, the Jews, love life and we love death.”
But the contrary is true: this is Israel’s greatest strength. In the name of democracy and freedom, Israel will win.
Fiamma Nirenstein is an elected Member of the Italian Parliament and serves as Vice President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies. She is a member of the board of the Italian foundation, Magna Carta, and is a fellow at Hudson Institute.