Israel supporters in New York protest at UN headquarters against the Durban conference, Sept. 21, 2011. (AP/Mary Altaffer) (AP/Mary Altaffer)
UN Mideast Racism Conference

Australia joins United States in boycotting the UN’s Durban Conference on racism, known to be a hornet’s nest of virulent anti-Semitism.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Australia is joining the United States in refusing to participate in the 20th anniversary events for the UN’s World Conference Against Racism in Durban, which singled out Israel for anti-Semitic resolutions, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

“We will not associate Australia with one-sided and contentious language that singles out Israel or [with] an event that champions such language,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne.

“This is entirely consistent with my government’s very strong voting position on UN General Assembly resolutions, in the Human Rights Council and elsewhere. We will continue that same approach to Durban IV later this year,” said Morrison.

The initial UN conference on racism was held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. Although it was supposed to combat racism, both Israel and the United States walked out of the conference after a draft document equated Zionism with racism, and they criticized the conference for promoting rather than combating racism.

Since then, many other leading countries have refused to attend subsequent Durban conferences. Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and the United States were among the 14 countries that would not attend the 2011 conference, while the Czech Republic walked out on the first day.

Those countries complained that the Durban conferences were being used to to promote racism and intolerance, especially anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, as well as eroding freedom of speech and denying Israel’s right to exist.

The Durban conference is considered to be the point where anti-Israel activists started using the “apartheid” slander against Israel. In the Durban conference report, the only conflict listed under the section on “victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” is the “Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

Earlier this week a U.S. State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post that America would not take part in the event scheduled for September 22 in New York.

“The United States will not attend or participate in any events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action or the World Conference on Racism, which preceded it,” the State Department spokesperson said. “The United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment, used as a forum for anti-Semitism and freedom of expression issues.”

France is also expected to be a no-show, and on Wednesday B’nai Brith Canada and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) called on the Canadian government to “take a principled stand in defense of its core values” by publicly affirming Canada’s refusal to participate.

Avi Mayer, managing director of global communications at the American Jewish Committee, tweeted that “the 2001 Durban Conference was an orgy of hate so vile that the U.S. and Israel pulled out in disgust.”

“It was so bad that even the UN’s Mary Robinson, who chaired it, said there was ‘horrible anti-Semitism present,'” Mayer said.

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