World Jews, Israel to meet on 'Durban 2'

Jewish groups in disagreementt over Foreign Ministry's decision to boycott conference.

durban anti-israel 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
durban anti-israel 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Some 30 Jewish organizations from around the world are scheduled meet with the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday to coordinate efforts aimed at preventing the Durban review conference from becoming an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate fest. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced that Israel would boycott the "Durban II" conference because, with Libya chairing the planning committee, Israel did not see how the conference would be anything but a platform for prejudiced attacks. Jewish representatives expected to attend the meeting hail from 30 countries - most from the US, but with representatives from Europe, South America and the former Soviet Union, as well. There is disagreement among Jewish participants over Israel's policy toward "Durban II." One US official told The Jerusalem Post that Israel was making a mistake in rejecting the conference at this stage, "because it could bring many more countries and NGOs with it [if it rejected it] at a later stage of the game." Another US official, however, praised Israel's decision and said "this can't be. We have to deal with the Canadian 'we won't come unless' rather than the American policy of 'we'll wait and see.'" Israel's coordinator on "Durban II," head of the Foreign Ministry's NGO Unit Gil Haskel, told the Post that Tuesday's meeting was "an opportunity for Israel to learn the positions of the world's Jewish communities now that Israel's position is known." The Foreign Ministry plans to establish at Tuesday's meeting a task force for coordinating international efforts on "Durban II." The task force is already slated to meet again in Geneva in May, at which point the venue for the 2009 follow-up conference will have been decided. Currently, South Africa, which hosted the first conference in 2001, has offered to host a second one with European diplomats, reportedly insisting that the conference be held in Geneva or New York. The first World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) was held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. A side conference of NGOs at Durban issued a declaration equating Zionism with racism, and anti-Israel efforts at the main diplomatic conference led to the US and Israel withdrawing from the meeting.