BERLIN - Germany’s Foreign Ministry announced on Friday that it will not take
part in the UN-sponsored Durban III antiracism conference on September 22,
because of the possibility that the event can be turned into a forum for
In a statement to The Jerusalem Post on Friday,
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said “Germany will not participate in the
commemoration event for the 10th year anniversary of the Durban
Germany “cannot rule out that the Durban commemoration event
in New York will be misused for anti-Semitic statements, as was the case in
previous conferences,” he said.
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“Therefore Germany will not participate.
This is also an expression of our special responsibility toward Israel,”
Anne Bayefsky, a human rights scholar and the principal
organizer of a counter-Durban III event, told the Post on Friday, “Germany has
done absolutely the right thing in pulling out of the UN's Durban III
conference, which is a ‘commemoration’ – a celebration – of UN-based
anti-Semitism on a global scale.
“Germany, and other European nations
which have already pulled out, need to call on the UK and France immediately to
stand with them and against Durban’s unacceptable perversion of the foundational
promise of the UN Charter, ‘the equal rights of nations large and small.’” Dr.
Dieter Graumann, the president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told the
Post on Friday that “it was a good and wise decision” that Berlin pulled out of
Durban III. “I am very pleased” about the decision and “the government
definitely earns a lot of praise and recognition” for it.
showed its true colors and sent a clear signal that should be heard everywhere,”
Graumann said. He termed the conference a “disgrace that should not receive any
legitimacy” and said Germany showed that “we will not participate in a festival
This “sign of consistency and responsibility earns great
respect, and hopefully other countries will also” follow this move to boycott
Philipp Missfelder, an influential Bundestag deputy who
called on his country’s Foreign Ministry in late August to drop its planned
participation in the UN-sponsored event, told the Post
on Friday, “We very much
welcome the Foreign Ministry's decision to forgo participation of German
ambassadors at Durban III.
“This is the right way and a strong sign
against the defamation of our partner Israel,” said Missfelder, who serves as
the foreign policy spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian
Democratic Union in the Bundestag.
Westerwelle was the subject of heavy
criticism in the media because he delayed his decision to pull out of Durban
The German foreign minister said the decision not to participate was
based on “intensive considerations within the federal government.” He added that
Germany pulled the plug on its participation in 2009 at the Durban II conference
in Geneva because of the “high risk” that the conference could be “politically
Ten of the UN’s 193 member nations have pulled out of Durban
III, including Germany, the US, Canada, Italy, Austria, Australia, the Czech
Republic, the Netherlands and Israel.
Poland and a number of other
democracies are wavering about their participation.
Sacha Staswki, the
head of the pro-Israel advocacy organization Honestly Concerned, told the Post
on Friday that “Germany waited long, but not too long. It would have been nice
to see Germany being on the forefront of the countries to withdraw from the
anti-Semitic Durban III conference, thereby setting an example for the other
European countries, but better late than never.”
He added, “I strongly
hope that Germany will also stand by Israel when it comes to the next task at
hand. A unilateral declaration of a state of Palestine, which is not the result
of a negotiated agreement, certainly goes against the German raison d’etat,
which calls for Germany to defend the security of the Jewish state, just as it
is not in the interest of the Palestinians. As a true friend of the Jewish
state, Germany cannot simply ‘drift’ with the majority.”
Stawski, who is
based in Frankfurt and is a leading defender of Israel’s security in Germany,
said, “True friendship means going against the mainstream, if necessary, and
standing up for your friend. In the case of Durban III, Germany finally made the
right decision. I hope it will do the same when it comes to negotiating with its
European partners this weekend, in terms of finding a common position on
Palestinian statehood, and if necessary go against the majority to take a clear
position on September 20 in the UN.
“An abstention would not be a sign of
Honestly Concerned is slated to hold a conference next month
to advance the security interests of Israel. It will take place in Frankfurt and
is expected to attract 3,000 visitors, making it the largest pro- Israel
The Simon Wiesenthal Center told the Post
on Friday that
it “commends the German government for pulling out of Durban III. We hope that
Berlin, along with the other European Union members, will refuse to provide any
further direct or indirect funding for the disastrous ‘Durban Process.’”