20 Years Later, SWC Witnesses UN’S Commemorative Whitewash of 2001 Durban Anti-Semitic Hatefest

February 22, 2021

UN (Geneva) – After 10 hours of speeches from member-states at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations and Permanent Observer to the UNOG (UN Organization in Geneva), Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed deep concern that “the whitewash of the past I experienced today could set the stage for a 'Durban' debacle."


Samuels, elected as the only Jewish member of the 2001 International Steering Committee for the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), held in Durban, South Africa, was expelled upon arrival 20 years ago, derisively called “the world Jew.”


Samuels and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Centre’s Associate Dean and Director for Global Social Action, Jewish spokesmen in Durban, were physically set-upon by Iranian so-called “NGO” delegates. On Sabbath eve, the city's small synagogue – for the first time in its over 100 year history – was under siege by surrounding crowds brandishing Hitler placards.


“For the Jews, Durban was reminiscent of 1930s Nazi Germany. Today, in Geneva, the 20th anniversary was called “a significant milestone in combatting racism”... “In fact, as in 2001,” noted Samuels, “65% of the Human Rights Council (HRC) member-states are dictatorships or undemocratic.”


“At each session today, item 4 reports on human rights violations of every country – but hardly ever on Iran, Syria, Turkey, China or Russia, etc...”


"However," Samuels stressed, “Item 7 debates the crimes only of Israel in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights... – the status of Israel is treated as 'the Jew among the Nations'.”


The Center, a recognized NGO at the UN, reported that Malaysia, Maldives, Qatar, South Africa, Turkey and an Egyptian NGO front, expressed unconditional solidarity with 'Palestine' and attacked Israel, some even alleging that Israel blocked delivery of vaccines to the Palestinians.”


Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, launched his diatribe: “Israel acts in impunity, has taken advantage of the Pandemic to strengthen occupation, preventing vaccines from arriving in Palestine, forcing people into exile, desecrating holy places, arbitrarily detaining children, and has destroyed 54 schools”... “Certain states wish to remove Item 7, that is our protection, thus sweep victims under the carpet. They are accomplices with Israel. The High Commission must update the database of companies that have business relationships with settlements... Some countries are rebutting the International Criminal Court ruling, they must revise their position. The Human Rights Council must support our next elections, to overcome these obstacles, obtain national reconciliation in Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of return of refugees...”


Syria diplomat: “We are under Turkish, American and Israeli occupation. Our water is cut off by Turkey, Israel in the Golan violates international law, where it is inhuman towards Druze Syrian citizens.”


Most disappointing, German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, after denouncing anti-Semitism, announced a grant of $11.5 million to the so-called Human Rights Council!


Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Ann Cristin Linde, mentioned plans for an International Forum to Combat Antisemitism next autumn in Malmo – the most antisemitic city in Europe. It was added that Sweden would raise its financial support, as one of the main donors to the HRC.


Portugese Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, announced a committment to a Durban Working Group.


The member-states moved on to plans for Durban IV, the 20-year commemoration of Durban I, to be held in September at the UN General Assembly in New York. Durban II in Geneva and III in New York were both opened by then President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a renowned spreader of the Jew-hatred disease.


“The Chair suggested that Durban IV was to reflect the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, forgetting its author, René Cassin, a Jewish lawyer working in the shadow of the Holocaust,” noted Samuels.


UN Secretary-General António Guterres mentioned growing anti-Semitism.


High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, stressed “religious discrimination of antisemitism and Islamophobia.”


Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka of UN Women: “Since Durban 20 years ago, there is greater need to focus on women of colour, targetted for sexual abuse, low work status, less access to high-tech and gender equality.”


Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, also focussed on women and girls as victims of Covid-19.


Gabriela Ramos of UNESCO, focussed on rights of Africans, migrants, indigenous, disabled - all subject to discriminations, adding the need “to learn from the Holocaust, Slavery and Colonialism.”


Finally, the European Union committed support for the DDPA (Durban Declaration and Programme of Action).


“The DDPA would have to be cleansed rather than whitewashed for Jews not to see it as yet another excercise in blood libel and anti-Semitic hate-mongering,” concluded Samuels.


For further information contact Dr. Shimon Samuels at csweurope@gmail.com, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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