Wiesel arranging Durban III counter-conference

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor seeking to debunk process which critics say riddled with hatred, intolerance.

August 19, 2011 03:26
3 minute read.
Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel 311. (photo credit: David W. Cerny /Retuers)


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BERLIN – The third UN-sponsored anti-racisim conference, which plans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 anti-Israel Durban I event, will face a counter-conference in September featuring Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, seeking to debunk a Durban process which critics say is riddled with hatred and intolerance.

The Durban process, so named for the South African city where the first conference took place in 2001, is shrouded in controversy because the first conference singled out Israel for attacks in its political document.

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“The Durban conference legitimized hate speech on a global scale,” said Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and a principal organizer of the counter-conference. She added that the September 22 daylong conference, sponsored by the Hudson Institute and Touro College and titled “The Perils of Global Intolerance: the United Nations and Durban III”, will serve as a call to action.

“Given the events that Durban III is intended to commemorate, the UN will sadly serve as a global platform to promote the inverse of its original purposes and principles. It is imperative to deny legitimacy to prejudice and the Durban Declaration,” said Bayefsky, who is also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and is scheduled to speak at the conference.

The event features a “who’s who” of prominent speakers from the academic, public policy, journalism, human rights, political and entertainment sectors.

In addition to Wiesel, the opposition conference has attracted speakers across three continents, including best-selling British journalist Douglas Murray, former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.

Khaled Abu Toameh, the Jerusalem Post’s award-winning Palestinian affairs reporter, is slated to speak along with John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the UN, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Bernard Lewis, a leading scholar on Islam and professor at Princeton University.

Academy-award winning actor Jon Voight, Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist who Time magazine named one its 100 most influential people in the world, Sudanese human rights activist Simon Deng, Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, are listed as speakers as well.

Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, is slated to to talk at the event. Canada was the first country to pull out of Durban II and III.

“At the widely-perceived racist ‘anti-racism’ conference, the streets were filled with signs such as ‘for the liberation of Quds machine guns based on faith and Islam must be used,’ and handouts with Hitler’s photo read ‘What if I had won? The good things: there would be no Israel...,’ according to a statement from conference organizers. Durban I ended three days before 9/11 and The Durban Review Conference, or Durban II, was held in Geneva in 2009. The only world leader to attend was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

At that conference, Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and proclaimed the Jewish state “illegitimate” and “criminal.”

He called for the obliteration of Israel and Zionism, declaring, “Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights at eradicating this barbaric racism. Efforts must be made to put an end to Zionism.”

Ahmadinejad used the UN stage to voice, according to critics, his oft-repeated form of Holocaust denial, saying that Israel was “created on the pretext of Jewish suffering from World War II.”

Six countries from the UN’s 193 member nations have pulled out of Durban III, including the US, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Israel. Though Germany stresses that Israel’s security interests are integral to its national security, Germany’s Foreign Ministry is slated to attend the event.

“Germany’s behavior toward the UN’s Durban III conference raises serious questions about its commitment to combat modern anti-Semitism. As an event which will commemorate the hatefest held in Durban in 2001, and its Durban Declaration, which singles out only one country on Earth – the Jewish state – it is shocking that Germany has not refused unequivocally to withdraw in solidarity with Israel, the United States, Canada, Italy and other European nations,” Bayefsky said.

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