Durban 248.88 ap.
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First the good news: United Nations professionals have taken over the operation of next week's Durban II conference, determined not to permit the meeting to deteriorate into a repetition of the infamous (2001) Durban I - an anti-racism conference which ironically became a cesspool of Jew-hatred.
Now the bad news: Even if the conference, in Geneva on April 20-25, is conducted in an atmosphere of superficial civility, the deck is already stacked against the Jewish state. The real, irreparable damage has been done by the preparatory committee chaired by Libya and co-chaired by Iran - and paid for mostly by Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The PLO threw in $1,700 as a token of its esteem.
This is akin to purveyors of trans-fat orchestrating a conference on good nutrition. You just know they have ulterior motives.
Under Western pressure, the Durban II organizers "cleaned up" a draft declaration which "reviews" how well the "action program" of Durban I was implemented. All the blatant and egregious references to Israel have been removed. Nevertheless, the supposedly sanitized document begins with an "affirmation" of the original Durban hate-fest and closes with a spiteful denunciation of "occupation" as being "closely associated with racism."
Those who understand the Orwellian newspeak of the "World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" will appreciate that by affirming Durban I and denouncing "occupation," the conference's built-in anti-Israel majority has simply found a palatable way to continue exploiting the cause of human rights in order to demonize the Jewish state.
Canada, to its credit, was first to announce it would not participate in the Durban II charade. Israel followed suit; then Italy.
Unfortunately, the EU appears set to attend since it can hardly oppose a reaffirmation of Durban I, in which it participated. And Germany, once again, rather than being Israel's true friend inside the EU, says that given its past, it can't be seen to miss an anti-racism conference - even a bogus one.
The Obama administration continues to demand significant changes in the draft declaration and opposes a reaffirmation of Durban I. We urge it to hold firm.
HOWEVER the conference plays out, whatever Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says when he addresses it, and whatever surprises the Organization of the Islamic Conference may have in store for the wording of the final declaration, this conference will end badly because it is attracting the same old crowd, the non-governmental organizations that made Durban I a scandal.
On Sunday, the anti-Zionist radicals plan a massive protest against Israel in Geneva.
So, in the final analysis, it isn't only the text that's a problem, it's the overall Durban gestalt.
Israel has wisely decided to boycott Durban II. Jerusalem's policy is not to play along with phony probes over false massacre charges in Jenin (2002); suspicious deaths of Palestinian civilians in a Gaza beach explosion (2006); the Palestinian bid to use the World Court to block the security barrier (2004); and Richard Falk's investigation of Israel's "human rights abuses" in Gaza (2009).
And if Richard Goldstone does not investigate Hamas when he probes civilian deaths in the recent Gaza war, he too should get no cooperation.
If you hold a political pogrom and no Zionists show up, it kind of takes the pleasure away.
Israel has no interest in enabling sham investigations where its guilt has been predetermined or in facilitating propagandistic show trials.
THE REAL losers in the Durban II charade are the millions of human beings who suffer at the hands of state practitioners of systematic intolerance. With the Jewish state serving as a scapegoat, authoritarian states, including China, Russia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Iran, will get a free ride at a conference supposedly dealing with oppression. Countries like North Korea, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, whose citizens enjoy neither political rights nor civil liberties, will strut about as they judge our country.
Fortunately, while the world makes a mockery of human rights, the honor of Geneva will be salvaged and the suffering of the oppressed will receive a glimmer of attention via a parallel gathering - the Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance & Democracy - co-sponsored by genuine human rights groups including Freedom House, Stop Child Executions and UN Watch.
All is not lost.