Disturbing news from the Outreacher-In-Chief:
Obama’s Policy Shift on Durban Racism Conference Draws Concern, Criticism
When diplomats meet at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday to continue hammering out plans for an international conference on racism in the spring, representatives of the United States will take part for the first time in years.
The major policy shift, announced by the State Department over the weekend, is the strongest indication yet that the Obama administration could end up participating in the Durban Review Conference, also known as “Durban II.”
Doing so would undercut a campaign calling on democracies to boycott the event, which opponents say will be used by Islamic states and their allies to attack Israel, undermine Western counter-terrorism initiatives and endanger free speech.
A decision to stay away by President Obama would provide cover for other Western countries to do so; U.S. attendance, conversely, is expected to have the opposite effect. Currently Israel and Canada alone have formally announced they will not take part.
It’s not a done deal:
The statement released by State Department spokesman Robert Wood on Saturday night stressed that a decision on actual participation in Durban II would be made at a later date, “depending on the results that we see from the negotiating process.”
“The intent of our participation [in this week’s discussions] is to work to try to change the direction in which the Review Conference is heading,” it said. “We hope to work with other countries that want the Conference to responsibly and productively address racism around the world.”
Observers are skeptical that the U.S. would be able to force a direction change at this late stage in the preparatory process.
U.S. representatives attending the Feb. 16-19 inter-governmental working group discussions will be confronted by a draft agenda that equates Israeli policies and actions with those of apartheid South Africa, and revisits the U.N.’s controversial “Zionism is racism” resolution by highlighting what the drafters call “a racially-based law of return.”
They will also be met by references to racism impacting on counter-terrorism efforts, and calls for governments to act against “negative stereotyping of religions and defamation of religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols.”
Arguing that “Islamophobia” is a “contemporary form of racism,” the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is using Durban II to further its campaign to have religious “defamation” outlawed – a drive which critics say is designed to prevent criticism of Islam and practices associated with it.
My earlier posts on Durban II here and here.
Some people just don’t learn.