The Durban III Conference is scheduled to be held in New York City on September 21. The two prior Durban conferences—Durban I held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa and Durban II held in 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland—were supposedly called into session to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It instantly became clear that the conferences had been hijacked by Muslim nations for the purpose of trashing Israel and directing hate at Jews everywhere. The attacks upon Israel and Jews rivaled the worst manifestations of anti-Semitism seen anyplace since Hitler’s Nazi Germany engaged in their campaign to dehumanize Jews leading to the Final Solution and the murder of 6 million Jews. The false charges against Israel and worldwide Jewry at Durban I and II have undoubtedly caused safety problems for the Jewish citizens of many nations, particularly in the underdeveloped countries of the world seeking the favor of the oil rich Arab countries.
Durban III undoubtedly will have the same kind of hate-filled rhetoric directed at both Israel and Jews everywhere. Of that I have no doubt. Today, across the world, anti-Semitism is rising in countries such as Great Britain, France and Russia and increasing in Scandinavia and elsewhere in the European Union as well. Many of these countries seeking lucrative oil contracts with the Arab countries and fearful of the outcomes of the uprisings that have taken place in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, but seeking to be seen as supporting those uprisings, are willing to denounce Israel, hoping to avoid confrontation in their own countries with the rising Muslim populations there.
Many of those European countries undoubtedly believe that throwing Israel under the bus is a small price to pay for an accommodation with the Islamic world. The Muslim Arab countries, having failed on five occasions to defeat Israel on the battlefield, are now seeking to win a diplomatic victory at the U.N. which will deprive Israel of secure and defensible borders, end negotiations between the parties and impose a Munich-like settlement on Israel. In addition, through their false accusations and hatred of Jews worthy of Hitler, they will once again at the so-called Durban III Conference on September 21 engage in an exercise of Jew hatred.
The conference will not succeed because the United States, at the direction of President Obama, will not participate in the proposed auto-da-fe. It will not succeed because countries of conscience such as Canada will not participate, its Immigration Minister Jason Kenney having said, “The original Durban Conference, and its declaration, as well as the non-governmental activities associated with it, proved to be a dangerous platform for racism, including anti-Semitism…Canada is clearly committed to the fight against racism, but the Durban process commemorates an agenda that actually promotes racism rather than combats it…Canada will not participate in this charade.”
United States representative John Sammis stated to the UN committee that the event “risks undermining the relationship we have worked hard to strengthen over the past few years between the United States and the U.N.”
Senator Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) said, “We all witnessed how extreme anti-Semitic and anti-American voices took over Durban I and Durban II, and we should expect the same thing to happen with Durban III… I appreciate the Obama Administration’s strong statement opposing yesterday’s resolution, and urge it to again withdraw from the event and encourage other nations to do the same.”
On June 1, the Obama administration confirmed that the U.S. would boycott the conference. Joseph MacManus, acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, stated that the Durban process “included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism.”
The Italian Vice President of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Fiamma Nirenstein, who covered the original Durban conference as a journalist wrote, “The UN never ceases to amaze. Just when we thought we had become immune to all the poisonous concoctions that get dished out, once again, ten years down the road, we are being offered a remake of “Durban 1”, the UN conference against racism which — to most people’s horror — was transformed into a racist conference against Israel and America.”
Jews who came to the land now known as Israel and Palestine with the sojourn of their Patriarch and founder, Abraham, have lived there for over 3,000 years. They were carried off into slavery after war with Babylonia in 587 BCE. Then, the Persian King Cyrus permitted them to return to Jerusalem in 538 BCE. Many were once again carried off into slavery by the Romans in 70 CE, but some Jews always remained in the land. They began their return in large numbers at the urgings of Theodore Herzl culminating in the declaration of statehood by Ben Gurion who became its first prime minister.
Today, there are living in Israel 5.8 million Jews and 1.6 million Arabs all full citizens of that democratic state. I have no doubt whether one believes in God or does not, that the people of Israel and the 13 million Jews who live in this world making up one-fifth of one percent of the world’s population will survive this latest attack upon them by their enemies.
The Honorable Edward Irving Koch served New York City as its105th Mayor from 1978 to 1989.