Weekly Standard Online

Durban III: An Anti-Israel Forum Takes Shape

The Iranian minister of foreign affairs, Ali Akbar Salehi, is now scheduled to take part in the conference known as Durban III, according to a well-placed source close to the United Nations. On September 22, the U.N. will "commemorate" the 10th anniversary of Durban I that ended just three days before 9/11. Given that Iranian leaders hope for the genocidal destruction of the U.N. member state of Israel and deny the Holocaust, their enthusiasm for the Durban phenomena blows the lid of the event's "anti-racism" cover.

The 2001 Durban Declaration claimed Palestinians were "victims" of Israeli racism. Israel was the only one of 192 U.N. member states standing accused. Quite deliberately, therefore, Salehi will address one of the "roundtable" gatherings organized by the U.N., titled, "Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: recognition, justice and development."

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the lead speaker, and the only head of state in attendance, at Durban II in Geneva in 2009. At the time, his lengthy anti-Semitic diatribe resulted in a walkout by European states that hadn't boycotted the event already. The United States, Israel, Canada, and others had pulled out in advance. This time, the United Kingdom and France have decided not to wait for the inevitable Iranian slur and have joined 12 other states now boycotting Durban III. The boycott by all three Western democratic members of the U.N. Security Council veto-holding powers, along with another eleven states, is a unique rebuff of the United Nations.

The representatives of governments that remain, however, will end Durban III at 6:00 p.m. in the U.N. General Assembly Hall by signing on to a new declaration that "reaffirms" the Durban Declaration and its anti-Israel accusation. Backing Iran's idea of combating xenophobia and intolerance ought to send shivers up the spines of even the U.N.'s most ardent democratic supporters.

The development is also revealing when set against the Palestinian Authority's effort to achieve an independent Palestine without accepting a Jewish state. On Thursday, Durban III will seek the delegitimization of Israel. On Friday, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will declare there is no need to negotiate with such a state, and, therefore, the U.N. should endorse a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

Also, it has just been revealed that the U.N. has chosen one non-governmental organization to represent civil society at Durban III and speak in the General Assembly hall itself. For this very rare opportunity, what country did the U.N. choose as the focal point of attention? The United States of America. Sarah White, from the Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights, has been selected as "a representative of a non-governmental organization active in the field of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."

White is a strong supporter of the Durban conferences, having attended Durban I, II, and now III. White is an African American born in 1958 who has used many similar occasions to describe racism in America. How unfortunate that some NGOs seek to benefit from a process intended to garner equality for some while denying equality for Jews. The Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights is an active participant in the so-called Durban + 10 coalition—a group of NGOs that promote the Durban agenda and includes such groups as the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

It was no accident, of course, that anti-Western U.N. officials, like U.N. high commissioner Navi Pillay, selected an American who will focus on racism in America. It would have been so much more difficult—in the U.N. world—to focus on places like Sudan where 400,000 are dead and millions displaced since 2008, or Sri Lanka where there have been 10,000 dead and injured since 2009, or Syria where hundreds are dying at the hands of a tyrant, Bashar al-Assad.

There is still time for democracies to get out of Durban III and save themselves from being forever tarnished.