September 01, 2021

30 European MPs call on states to drop UN conference tainted by antisemitism

A coalition of more than 30 members of parliament from across Europe and the UK today launched a global appeal, spearheaded by the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group UN Watch, urging countries to pull out of the UN’s upcoming commemoration of a 2001 conference on racism that was plagued by virulent displays of antisemitism. (See text of appeal and list of signatories below.)

The September 22nd follow-up meeting of the Durban Conference, named after the South African city where the first edition was held in 2001, is scheduled to bring together world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Citing concerns over antisemitism, numerous countries have already announced they are boycotting what has become known as “Durban IV,” including Austria, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic. France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.

“We welcome these announcements and hereby call on all other countries to follow,” said the lawmakers. “We recall that the Durban process, since its inception at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, has included ugly displays of intolerance and antisemitism.”

The 33 parliamentarians — from Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK — called attention to “a worldwide surge of anti-Jewish violence and inflammatory language that demonizes the Jewish state as uniquely evil,” which they said echoes accusations of “genocide” and “apartheid” leveled in 2001 in advance of the Durban conference at a UN preparatory meeting in Tehran.

“We urge all UN member states not to legitimize this event,” said the MPs. They voiced firm support for combating racism “outside of the tainted Durban process,” where nations “must continue to work to combat racism, bigotry, and racial discrimination in all forms and all places.”

In tandem with the parliamentary appeal, UN Watch has launched a new petition and website calling on Brazil, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand and other countries to pull out of Durban IV.

Appeal by members of parliament concerning antisemitism and the UN Durban conference anniversary

Citing historic concerns regarding antisemitism, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States have announced that they will not attend the UN’s Durban Conference anniversary later this year. We welcome these announcements and hereby call on all other countries to follow.

We recall that the Durban process, since its inception at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, has included ugly displays of intolerance and antisemitism.

The lead-up to the Durban Conference produced one of the most scurrilous documents relating to Israel and the Jewish people to appear since World War II. The Asian regional preparatory meeting in Tehran accused the Jewish state of committing “a new kind of apartheid,” “a crime against humanity” and “a form of genocide.”

The Durban Conference itself, held between 31 August to 7 September 2001, was marred by language singling out Israel in the final text of the Durban Declaration, and in the plenary. PLO chairman Yasser Arafat told conference delegates of the “ugliness” of “Israeli racist policies and practices against the Palestinian people.” Cuban dictator Fidel Castro spoke of “the dreadful genocide perpetrated, at this very moment, against our Palestinian brothers.”

At the parallel NGO Forum, non-governmental organizations declared Israel a “racist apartheid state” that was guilty of “genocide.” At a nearby Palestinian-led march with thousands of participants, placards read “Hitler Should Have Finished the Job.” On sale in the exhibition area was the most notorious of anti-Jewish tracts, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The Arab Lawyers Union distributed antisemitic cartoons reminiscent of the Nazi era.

Two decades later, we are now witness to a worldwide surge of anti-Jewish violence and inflammatory language that demonizes the Jewish state as uniquely evil, recapitulating the 2001 Tehran accusations of “genocide” and “apartheid.” This was recognized two months ago by the European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, when she condemned attacks and anti-Israel graffiti on synagogues and Jewish premises.

In 2011, numerous countries withdrew from the UN’s 10-year commemoration of the Durban Conference, including Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Likewise, in December 2020, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States voted against the resolution establishing the upcoming 20-year commemoration of the Durban Conference, because they did not want to see the hateful and antisemitic displays of the 2001 Durban Conference commemorated. Accordingly, we urge all UN member states not to legitimize this event.

We are profoundly committed to ending racism and racial discrimination, and to upholding human rights for all. Outside of the tainted Durban process, our countries must continue to work in partnership with all nations of goodwill to combat racism, bigotry, and racial discrimination in all forms and all places.

Sincerely,

  • Lars Adaktusson, Member of the Parliament of Sweden
  • Boriss Cilevics, Member of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia
  • Sanna Antikainen, Member of the Parliament of Finland
  • Antero Laukkanen, Member of the Parliament of Finland 
  • Peter Östman, Member of the Parliament of Finland 
  • Wille Rydman, Member of the Parliament of Finland
  • Gert-Jan Segers, Member of the Parliament of the Netherlands
  • Jean Michel Mis, Member of the Assemblée Nationale of France
  • Päivi Räsänen, Member of the Parliament of Finland
  • Mirjam Bikker, Member of the Parliament of the Netherlands
  • Peter Osusky, Member of the National Council, Slovakia
  • Constance Le Grip, Member of the Assemblée nationale of France
  • Marijana Petir, Member of the Parliament of Croatia
  • Sandrine Boëlle, Member of the Assemblée nationale of France
  • Meyer Habib, Member of the Assemblée nationale of France
  • Pedro Navarro López, Member of the Congreso de los Diputados of Spain 
  • Stephen Crabb, Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • John Howell, Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • Christian Wakeford, Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • Matthew Offord, Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • Martin Engelberg, Member of the Parliament of Austria (National Council)
  • John Weinerhall, Member of the Riksdagen of Sweden 
  • Jean-Luc Reitzer, Member of the Assemblée nationale of France 
  • Erich von Siebenthal, Member of the National Council, Swiss Parliament
  • Andreas Glarner, Member of the National Council, Swiss Parliament
  • Marianne Binder-Keller, Member of the National Council, Swiss Parliament
  • Martin Haab, Member of the National Council, Swiss Parliament
  • Andreas GafnerMember of the National Council, Swiss Parliament
  • David ZuberbühlerMember of the National Council, Swiss Parliament
  • Lukas Mandl, Member of the European Parliament from Austria
  • Pina PiciernoMember of the European Parliament from Italy
  • Maud GatelMember of the Assemblée Nationale of France
  • Rudolf TaschnerMember of the Parliament of Austria
  • Source: unwatch