Israel: US Jewish groups back skipping Durban II

J'lem sure of support from organizations; AJC's David Harris: We'll wait to see what Obama does.

ajc david harris 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
ajc david harris 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Israel is confident there is strong support among Jewish organizations for following Israel's lead and skipping the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism, or Durban II, in Geneva in April, according to Foreign Ministry officials. Aviva Raz Schechter, director of the ministry's department for combating anti-Semitism, said Israel's impression from a conference call Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held on Tuesday with Jewish organizations throughout the world was that there was understanding of Israel's position not to attend and "wall to wall recognition that the organizations would try to convince their governments not to attend either." There was consent by the organizations and NGOs that took part in the conference call that, considering the preparatory material for the conference, it had been hijacked by elements who wanted to turn it into another Israel-bashing convention, Raz Schechter said. She denied reports that the major Jewish organizations did not unequivocally back Israel on this matter. David Harris, the head of the American Jewish Committee, told The Jerusalem Post following the call that his organization opposed the current Durban II agenda but wanted to "proceed on the most solid ground possible" before approaching the Europeans with demands to drop out. Harris added that until US President-elect Barack Obama took office next month there would be no decision from the American side, and that he would not rule out the possibility that the new president would expend the political capital to fundamentally alter the Durban II agenda. The New York-based Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations voted earlier this month to oppose US participation in Durban II and plans to send letters to both the outgoing Bush administration and Obama's transition team urging non-participation, according to its executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein. He told the Post last week that the organization objected to the use of the word "boycott" but otherwise backed the Foreign Ministry's stance. Allison Hoffman contributed to this report from New York.