Wiesenthal ‘outraged’ Germany participating in Durban III

Berlin defends its participation in UN conference, saying it is working to “prevent the Durban process from being used to pillory Israel.”

September 1, 2011 22:49
3 minute read.
Angela Merkel

Merkel reuters 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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BERLIN – The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a strongly worded letter on Tuesday to Germany’s ambassador to the United Nations, condemning his country’s failure to boycott the UN-sponsored Durban III conference, which has become a hallmark process for singling out Israel for attacks and charges of racism.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “As one of the spokesmen for the Jewish groups at the anti-Semitic hatefest that was Durban I in South Africa – as well watching the UN bestow the opening Speech of Durban II in Geneva to Ahmadinejad – a leader openly committed to the Jewish state’s destruction, I am deeply shocked that Berlin is dithering until the last moment instead of taking the lead to defund and shut down the Durban Process once and for all.”

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Austria pulls out of 'anti-Israel' Durban III conference
WJC calls for Germany to boycott Durban III

The Wiesenthal letter was sent to Ambassador Peter Wittig, Germany’s top diplomat at the UN. Cooper and Mark Weitzman, the Wiesenthal Center’s director of governmental affairs, wrote, “We are contacting you to express our deep consternation and outrage that Germany has not yet decided to boycott the 10th anniversary of the so-called Durban process. From the outset in August 2011, the World Conference Against Racism has served to facilitate the canard that Israel is an apartheid state, and more recently, provided a keynote platform for Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, who openly calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state.”

The letter concluded: “We urge Germany to immediately announce that it will not attend next month’s Durban event at the United Nations in New York, and to urge all other members of the European Union to follow suit.”

On Wednesday, Austria decided to boycott the Durban III conference because of concerns about the “political tone” of the event, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg.

Asked about Austria’s decision and the Wiesenthal letter, a spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration wrote the Post on Wednesday that “traditionally, the federal government does not comment on the decisions of other countries.”

The spokeswoman referred to a statement from Germany’s Foreign Ministry about its slated participation in Durban III. The statement reads that Germany is working to “prevent the Durban process from being used to pillory Israel.”

A spokesman from Germany’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Austria’s decision to avoid Durban III. In response to the Wiesenthal letter, he reiterated the statement to the Post that Germany is working to prevent the event from turning into an anti-Israeli spectacle.

Anne Bayefsky, a human rights scholar and the main organizer of a counter-Durban III conference in New York, told the Post on Wednesday, "Austria's pullout from Durban III puts Germany to shame.  The spectacle of the German government hanging on to a conference that legitimizes global anti-semitism under a UN banner is an astounding statement of moral confusion.  It should be cleared up by following Austria's example now."

The World Jewish Congress, the Central Council of Jews in Germany and the Berlin-Potsdam branch of the German- Israeli Friendship Society have urged Germany over the past week to boycott Durban III because the event is tainted with hatred of Israel and Jews.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is faced with a leadership crisis over his mishandling of the UN Libyan no-flight zone vote to protect the civilian population against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attacks.

Westerwelle directed Wittig to abstain from the US prono- flight zone vote and join Russia and China in their opposition to NATO intervention.

Former Green Party foreign minister Joschka Fischer termed Westerwelle’s decision- making process a “debacle” and the worst foreign affairs decision since the establishment of Germany’s post-war democracy.

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