This is likely just one of many incredible decisions that will be made by the Obama government. “Incredible” not in the sense of amazing, but, literally, “hard to believe.”
It has been announced that next week the State Department will be sending “diplomats” to participate in the planning of the UN-sponsored World Conference Against Racism, known as Durban 2. This is a conference that is widely expected to be as virulently anti-Israel as the first conference in 2001 was.
The announcement states that the decision on whether the US will actually participate in the conference, to be held in April, would be made following the planning discussions.
But participation in the planning sessions is truly a pointless and, worse, a destructive exercise.
A statement from the State Department said:
“This will be the first opportunity the [Obama] administration has had to engage in the negotiations for the Durban Review, and – in line with our commitment to diplomacy – the U.S. has decided to send a delegation to engage in the negotiations on the text of the conference document.
“The intent of our participation is to work to try to change the direction in which the review conference is heading. We hope to work with other countries that want the Conference to responsibly and productively address racism around the world.”
“Commitment to diplomacy…” This is breathtaking in its naiveté. Do President Obama and Secretary Clinton truly believe they can shift the tenor of the conference, which has been determined by a Muslim/Arab majority?
US participation isn’t benign: It runs the risk of lending the proceedings an air of legitimacy, and encouraging other nations that are still on the fence to participate.
Israel will not be participating. Canada has already announced its decision not to participate as well. And President Bush had declared that the US would not be participating either, short of a guarantee that the conference would not repeat its one-sided attacks on Israel. In recent months our Foreign Ministry has sought to encourage other nations — notably within the EU — to refrain from participation. A wide-scale Western boycott of the conference would speak volumes.
Now the US decision upsets matters and puts Israel on a collision course with the State Department. Our Foreign Ministry is working to keep the US from participating.
The NGO Forum statement from the first Durban Conference accused Israel of “apartheid,” “crimes against humanity,” “war crimes,” “acts of genocide,” and “ethnic cleansing.” (Did they leave anything out?) The delegations from both Israel and the US walked out of that conference in protest.
Much the same is anticipated the second time around.
What we see now is this, from the draft of the outcome document:
“Expresses deep concern at the practices of racial discrimination against the Palestinian people…
“Reiterates that the Palestinian people have an inalienable right to self-determination, and that, in order to consolidate the occupation, they have been subjected to unlawful subjective punishment, torture, economic blockade, severe restriction of movement and arbitrary closing of their territories. Also notes that illegal settlements continue to be built in the occupied territories…”
“Reaffirms that a foreign occupation founded on settlements, laws based on racial discrimination with the aim of continuing domination…contradicts the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations…
“Reiterates deep concern about the Palestinian people under occupation…
“Re-emphasizes the responsibility of the international community to provide international protection…for civilian populations under occupation…”
What must be understood for starters is that what is written here is exclusive to the Palestinians. There are no comments about the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination, or of the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the need for Tibetans to have protection. This is aimed exclusively at Israel.
This is a highly politicized document designed with an agenda of delegitimizing Israel. The final clause, above, raises particular concern, as it suggests international meddling in our affairs.
The US delegation will change none of this.
One might hope that the difficulty that will be encountered here by the US delegation might open Obama’s eyes to world realities, but this is not likely to be the case.
According to news reports, pressure has been put on Sec. Clinton to announce US participation in the conference — and that this pressure has come in part from Susan Rice, now US ambassador to the UN, and Samantha Powers, now at the National Security Council. Reports from credible journalistic sources (which I cannot independently confirm) indicate that Powers was actually at the first Durban conference as the representative of an NGO.
What is clearly on the record is that she has recommended cutting assistance to Israel, providing the Palestinians with billions of dollars, and putting into place “a mammoth protection force” to protect the Palestinians from the “major human rights abuses” committed by Israel.
So we’re in trouble here, folks.
Please, if you are a US citizen, contact the White House and the State Department and urge that the United States not participate in the Durban 2 Conference.
In your own words, simply, say that a boycott of the conference — which will be virulently anti-Israel — sends a potent message, while participation confers legitimacy.
Note that e-mail is the least effective way to get the message across and fax or phone call the best:
President Barack Obama
Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment line: 202-456-1111 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Public Communication Division (accepts opinions from the public):
Phone:202-647-6575 Fax: 02-647-2283mail: email@example.com
Then, please, forward this to everyone else you can think of who will be willing to leave a message as well.
Also on Obama there is this:
While the president appointed envoys to the Middle East and Afghanistan almost immediately after his inauguration, he has not done so with Iran. This procrastination is troubling to Israel, as well as to several nations within the EU.
According to Haaretz, at a recent meeting of senior diplomats from the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, representatives of the European nations were “severely disappointed” by the report provided by Under Secretary of State William Burns. Burns said it would take a couple more months before a final US policy on Iran was formulated.
The French, German and British delegates said “the process must be hurried along,” and the French suggested a “one-shot option ” for talks with Iran, rather than long-draw out negotiations.
Israeli officials are currently putting together a position paper with regard to Iran, which will be submitted to the US government.
Is anyone (except those totally afloat in la-la land) surprised at this?
Both Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter reported to the Cabinet today regarding Egypt’s attempts to stop smuggling of weapons, and both criticized those efforts as insufficient.
Said Dichter: “The Egyptians’ activities are too little and too low, and the proof is that rockets continue to be infiltrated from Egypt to Gaza. The government must define an appropriate, harsh and tough policy to the IDF in order to create deterrence against Hamas once and for all.”
While Diskin said, “we see an effort exerted by Hamas to rebuild its tunnels, and we have spotted several incidents of weapon smuggling since the cease-fire began.”
And this? It’s so very typical:
Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan, in Lebanon, told Al Jazeera TV that the Israeli demand that Shalit be included in a cease-fire deal is “a programmed operation to make the deal fail,” “a procrastination.”
It couldn’t be, you see, because we want Shalit back. We’re just making trouble.
This reminds me of what Abbas says about rocket fire from Gaza: It’s a mistake because it gives us a “pretext” for hitting in Gaza.
They are never, ever responsible for anything.
A brief mention of the election process: No done deal, nothing certain. But it is appearing that Livni may well opt to be in the opposition rather than joining a unity coalition led by Netanyahu, on his terms. The thinking within Kadima is that Livni has time, and will be there to win the next election when Netanyahu falls on his face.
This, it is reported, has been Olmert’s advice to Livni. Knesset Speaker (outgoing) Dalia Itzhik supports going into opposition, as well, and Security Minister Avi Dichter says, “Kadima will not join a government that is not headed by Tzipi Livni.” Livni herself is said to have privately stated: “I will either be Prime Minister or head of the opposition.”
Meanwhile, MK Gideon Saar, who is number 2 on the Likud list, says forthrightly that “The new government will be based on our natural partners in the nationalist camp…The voters have voted nationalist, and we have said many times that the new government will be built along these lines, and will not be a unity government that leans to the left.”
A great deal depends on whether Netanyahu will now be true to the principles he espoused during the election:
“Keep the Golan”
“Keep the Jordan Valley”
“Preserve the unity of Jerusalem”
These are simply not principles Kadima can accept.
I close today by recommending a thought-provoking article by Gil Troy, “A Yom Kippur for the Left”:
“As Israel’s critics around and at home mourn this “rightward shift” and the rise of the “ultra-nationalist” Lieberman, as they fret about dimming prospects for a two-state solution, instead of further demonizing the country they should apologize, in the true spirit of Yom Kippur. The rightward shift resulted from the failure of the Left’s ideas at home – and the betrayal by liberals from around the world. (Emphasis added)
“Israelis have turned rightward because the failure of territorial concessions has been compounded by a broken covenant with the world. For decades liberal critics pounded two ideas into Israelis’ heads. The first was that if the country withdrew from the territories it conquered in 1967, Palestinians – and the rest of the Arab world – would make peace. The second, related, assumption was an implicit compact that whatever security risks Israel took by ceding territory would be compensated for by the world’s friendship. (Emphasis added)
“TRAGICALLY, NEITHER the Oslo peace process nor the Gaza disengagement produced the desired results. In fact, many Israelis feel that the more they risked for peace, the more they suffered from those risks, the greater was the world’s disapproval. Of course, Israel is not blameless. But whatever missteps it made pale in comparison to the three tragic truisms now dominating the political consciousness: Oslo’s concessions resulted in terrorists murdering more than 1,000 people; disengaging from Gaza resulted in thousands of missiles raining on the South; and both times, when the country finally defended itself, the worldwide chorus of denunciation was so intense it fanned the flames of anti-Semitism.” (Emphasis added)