(photo credit: Courtesy)
Although the government is boycotting the UN Durban Review Conference (Durban II) that opens Monday in Geneva, members of Israel's Arab opposition parties voiced their support for the conference.
Balad chairman MK Jamal Zahalka, who will attend Durban II, addressed the crowd at the NGO Civil Society Forum March in Geneva on Sunday, presenting himself as a Palestinian victim of "Israeli racist apartheid" and concluding his speech by proclaiming: "No peace without justice."
Zahalka said he planned to raise the issue of the "official racism" with which, he argued, Israel discriminated against Palestinian residents, citing Israel Beiteinu's election victory as evidence of the racism in Israeli society.
"Any conference against racism is welcome, especially when it is held under the auspices of the UN," said Zahalka's fellow Balad MK Said Nafa. "All countries in the word should be concerned by racism, and everybody is participating other than those who have something to fear."
"There are dangerous signs of racism in Israel, including a party that is super racist," Nafa added, referring to Israel Beiteinu. "Such a party is dangerous first and foremost to the Jews. In the past, racist movements first brought tragedy to their own nations and only later to others."
Nafa said that he was satisfied that both his party's chairman and its secretary-general were participating in the conference, but said he was disappointed that the government had decided to boycott the conference, and that no members of the coalition were present in Geneva.
"Since the last elections, there has been an increase in racism, which has become mainstream in Israeli society," said United Arab List-Ta'al MK Ahmed Tibi. "I can understand the shame of Israel - which is why they fled and aren't participating. It wouldn't be pleasant for Israel to be present there."
Tibi added that those who seek to boycott the conference on the basis of anti-Semitism were simply looking for a convenient excuse. "Israel's lack of participation is a form of running away. Israel is being accused there, and Israel solves the problem by claiming anti-Semitism. But not everything that is critical of Israel is anti-Semitism," he added.
It appeared that the Arab MKs' trips were paid for by their parties.