British Jewish group opposes UN Durban II preparatory meeting during Pessah

A third Preparatory Committee meeting, called for October of this year, coincides with Yom Kippur.

Durban 248.88 ap (photo credit: )
Durban 248.88 ap
(photo credit: )
The representative body of the British Jewish community has objected to plans by the organizers of the 2009 UN World Conference against Racism, deemed Durban II, to stage its next preparatory meeting during Pessah. In a letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to Louis Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Henry Grunwald, Board president, said: "We are very concerned to learn that the second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference is to be held over the Jewish festival of Passover. "As you are aware, the Jewish communities of the world placed so much faith in the original Durban conference in 2001 and attended in comparatively large numbers, only to be cruelly disappointed by the outcome. I therefore ask whether the date of the conference can be moved to enable our representatives properly to participate." The Preparatory Committee is due to meet in Geneva on April 21-30. A third Preparatory Committee meeting, called for October of this year, coincides with Yom Kippur. While no venue or date has been set, Durban II is expected to take place sometime in early 2009. The UN Human Rights Council has been authorized to implement it. A 20-nation bureau - chaired by Libya, vice-chaired by Cuba and to include Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia - will oversee proceedings. The 2009 conference is a follow-up to the 2001 UN anti-racism conference held in Durban, South Africa, which focused on Israel and culminated in resolutions calling Israel an "apartheid state" and equating Zionism with racism. The US and Israel pulled their delegations from the conference; Australia and Canada accused it of "hypocrisy." The Board's letter follows consultations with a cross-section of Jewish communal organizations and a series of meetings between the Board of Deputies and foreign ambassadors - as well as American and European Jewish counterparts - expressing concern that Durban II will become a venue for the demonization of Israel and Zionism and a vehicle for anti-Semitic incitement. Similar concerns were voiced by the British Foreign Office to a Board delegation that met with Foreign Secretary David Miliband in November.