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As U.N.'s 'Durban III' Approaches Where Are the Moral Leaders?

Today, Germany became the latest country to pull-out of a UN “anti-racism” conference scheduled for New York on September 22, 2011. 

Dubbed “Durban III” after the global hatefest which took place in South Africa in 2001 and ended three days before 9/11, the U.N. gambit is headed for a showdown. 

While the U.N. deliberately planned their meeting to “commemorate” the Durban fiasco for September, hoping it would attract the hundreds of world leaders already in New York for the annual opening of the General Assembly, nine states have now cried foul and bowed out, including the U.S. and Israel.

The boycott has gathered steam as a result of behind-the-scenes moves by U.N. negotiators in New York, who are currently drafting a new declaration to be adopted at the end of the September 22nd festivities. Organizers are planning to coral participating countries into signing a declaration that would celebrate the Durban Declaration and turn it into the centerpiece of UN “anti-racism” efforts.

The Durban Declaration charges only Israel among 192 nations with racism and declares that the Palestinians are “victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” In effect, Durban and its progeny are part of a decades-long campaign by Israel’s enemies to cast the Jewish state as akin to racist South Africa, paint Zionism as racism, and isolate and defeat Israel on the political battlefield.

Thursday, negotiators discussed the latest U.N. draft which begins “We, heads of State and Government…reaffirm that the aim of this commemoration is to mobilize political will…for the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration...”

Leading the charge in the negotiations was Benin who spoke for the approximately 130 states belonging to the “Group of 77,” the developing bloc of nations that include 56 Islamic states. From the western side, playing ball by UN rules favoring the non-democratic majority, are Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, and Ireland.

Two states objected to the idea of “reaffirming” the Durban Declaration – France and New Zealand. But it remains to be seen if they were merely posturing or they really intend to pull out of a summit specifically designed to “commemorate” an event unworthy of anything but the dustbin of history. No negotiations at this point are going to avoid that inevitable conclusion.

Furthermore, the text is littered with poison pills, neutral only on the surface – such as emphasizing four times in a page and a half the “victims of racism” – which the Durban Declaration describes as Palestinians “suffering” from Israeli racism. There are also numerous attempts to sideline the 1965 racism treaty, which emphasizes the voluntary assumption of duties by states.

The stakes are especially high because, as Argentina said in defense of this “celebration,” the final declaration will be a presidential statement that will be made by heads of state and government. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – the prime movers behind Durban III – may succeed in building a majority of states prepared to celebrate modern anti-semitism and dress it up as human rights.

But thanks to Canada, Israel, United States, Czech Republic, Italy, The Netherlands, Australia, Austria, and now Germany, it will be a pyrrhic victory. There is no fence-sitting on this one. Where are the rest of the moral leaders of our time?

Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

Anne Bayefsky is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust. Follow her on Twitter @AnneBayefsky.