Mon Sep 1st, 2008 at 05:21:44 PM EST
Sometimes the writing on the wall is insufficient for some allegedly democratic countries to appreciate a hint that their ways of governing is not exactly ideal when it comes to the issue of racial or ethnic equality.
The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, because of a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and compared Zionism to racism. Although the resolution was never adopted, there was an implication that Israel's internal laws, twenty of them, which discriminate against Palestinians ("Arabs," as they are called in Israel) and non-Jewish citizens are not really discriminatory (?). And at that time, Jimmy Carter's book concerning the racial discrimination in the Palestinian territories: Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid was not even written.
Sadly, that any American administration, Democrat or Republican, given the advances the US has made with respect to racial equality and voting rights since 1964, could avoid such a conference to protect a discriminatory society such as Israel's is highly hypocritical, and turns our back on our own democratic principles.
The Associated Press reported this piece today, which was picked up by the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz: UN human rights chief tries to sway Israel, U.S. on anti-racism summit
The UN's new human rights chief said Monday she hopes to persuade the United States and Israel to drop their opposition to an upcoming global racism conference. "My instinct would be to get as many countries to participate as possible," Navi Pillay said on her first day as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The so-called Durban II meeting in Geneva next year will review progress in fighting racism since the global body's first such conference seven years ago.
Israeli officials say their country will likely stay away from Durban II because of anti-Semitic excesses at and around the first meeting. The United States has not yet decided whether to take part, but used a vote in the UN General Assembly last year to protest the conference.
Libya chairs the preparation committee for Durban II, and Iran and Cuba are also involved, indicating that there will be more bashing of Israel, Itzhak Levanon, the Jewish state's former UN envoy in Geneva, told The Associated Press last month.
"The High Commissioner should fearlessly focus on protecting the victims around the world, and that does involve speaking out against the violators as well," she said. "I intend to do that without the application of any double standards."
Well, the first question one asks here is: since when is criticism of racial discrimination, e.g., anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic? Given that racial discrimination is at the bottom of anti-Semitism itself, and the evils that resulted from it especially in Europe, but also America during the 19th and 20th centuries, how can it be anti-Semitic? And so how can the claim that the UN's concern with racism around the world, even in Israel, be anti-Semitic?
Isn't it really a question of "double-standards" that is at issue here? Israel just wants to be excused for its own racism. One is reminded here of the appeals of the southern Dixiecrats in the 1960s, who wanted to apply a double standard in judging equality under the Jim Crow laws that prevailed in the south at the time.
Israel needs a Kennedy or Johnson in its midst, and America needs an administration that will further democratic principles of equality around the world irrespective of politics. Being Israel's puppy dog just doesn't work for America any more.
Canada, by the way, is the only country that has explicitly said it will not take part in the summit (the right wing Canadian PM is again caught kissing America's ass).