Durban III: the hatefest is back Read Shimon Samuels' Jewish Chronicle op-ed


Sunday 2 October, 2011

Durban III: the hatefest is back

By Shimon Samuels, September 22, 2011

Durban III, the second reprisal of the UN's 2001 "anti-racism" conference in Durban, South Africa, was held in New York this week. The gathering, now famous as a forum for antisemitism and attacks on Israel, was this year boycotted by 12 countries, including Britain, France, Israel and the US. Below, Shimon Samuels, International Relations Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and a participant in the original conference in 2001, maps out the history of the Durban phenomenon.

 Delegates walk out as
                                  Ahmadinejad addresses the 2009 Geneva

Delegates walk out as Ahmadinejad addresses the 2009 Geneva meeting

As the only Jew elected to the International Steering Committee (ISC) for Durban, I was gagged in the preparatory meetings in Warsaw and Santiago; offered a deal in Geneva by the PLO legal counsel ("we will give you the Holocaust if you give us Palestine"); denied access to the last preparatory gathering in Tehran and expelled unceremoniously in Durban itself as "the world Jew".

Three months later, on December 6, 2001, I attended, uninvited, the final ISC meeting in Geneva. An eight-point plan was circulated for the next decade, to be reviewed at this week's Durban gathering in New York.

Based on the campaign against South African apartheid, the plan listed measures to isolate Israel, through UN agencies, the internet, universities, trade unions and sport.

The "Durban manifesto", by 2003, was being promulgated by the anti-globalisation World Social Forum (WSF), in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and its European Social Forum satellites across the EU.

I stood in the Porto Alegre stadium and saw the banners that hung from the stands: "No Jews, Nazis, Yankees - No More Chosen Peoples". Over 76, 000 young people from over 100 countries were screaming: "Viva la Intifada Global".

It was here that the "Boycott, Divestment, Sanction" mantra could be heard for the first time. We also learned of the forthcoming campaigns and calendars formulated to harm Israel and, by association, world Jewry.

It was at the WSF that we received an early warning of the flotilla, whose lead ship was then to be called "Exodus II".

The "Durban Manifesto" has inculcated broad swathes of the international public to believe that the true Holocaust was the Palestinian "Nakba", or "catastrophe", when thousands of Palestinians fled during the 1948 war; that antisemitism is a prejudice against the other "Semite" - the Arab. After Durban, Jewish narrative has been the subject of identity theft to serve the Palestinian cause.

The real victims of Nazism saw their agenda hijacked at Durban. Roma Gypsies, Indian Dalits and Sudanese slaves were abandoned, and many joined us in their frustration.

In 2002, we attended the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development. Infested by "Durbanisation", this UN environmental meeting hosted charges of Israeli "ecocide" and vicious assaults on the Jewish National Fund as an "agent of colonialism".This month we arrived at the decade update gathering in Chile, after writing to all participating organisations. We had requested that they stay focused on the agenda: biodiversity, desertification, ecology - and not let themselves be politicised. Many groups validated our campaign and the Santiago meeting was uneventful.

From Durban 2001 to the 2009 Review Conference featuring Ahmadinejad in Geneva, and now in New York, the hatefest goes on. Our sages wrote of " the three sins of Damascus" and "the fourth which would see no reprieve". May the conference that took place this week - the third sin of Durban - be the last.