The United States has announced it will boycott the Durban III conference against racism being held at UN headquarters in September, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Joseph E. Macmanus, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that the U.S. will not participate in the upcoming conference because the Durban process “included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism.”
Macmanus adds in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AP, “We all witnessed how extreme anti-Semitic and anti-American voices took over” the original gathering in South Africa and a follow up conference in 2009.
He also notes that “In December, we voted against the resolution establishing this event because the Durban process included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we did not want to see that commemorated.”
The UN resolution on Durban III had passed by a 121-19 vote, with 35 abstentions. The conference will commemorate the 9th anniversary of the first such conference, held in Durban, South Africa just 10 days before the 9/11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. That conference was described by the ICEJ as a “concerted effort by nearly all the Muslims of the world to denounce and de-legitimize the Jewish state of Israel; an awful verbal forerunner much as the one the Nazis sent before launching the Holocaust of the expunging of Israel as sovereign Jewish state from their Arab Muslim midst.”
Gillibrand welcomed the administration’s decision, saying in a released statement that “It is an insult to America that the United Nations has decided to hold the Durban III conference in New York just days from the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.”
The administration’s announcement was also welcomed by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella of 52 groups such as B’nai B'rith International, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and Hadassah, and the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
Israel announced back in December that it would not participate in Durban III, saying, “The Durban Conference of 2001, with its anti-Semitic undertones and displays of hatred for Israel and the Jewish world, left us with scars that will not heal quickly.”
Canada has also announced that it will not be taking part in the conference, with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney saying that the Canadian government “has lost faith in the Durban process. We will not be part of this event, which commemorates an agenda that promotes racism rather than combats it.”
Kenney also called the conference a “charade” and a “hatefest”, adding that “the government of Canada will not lend Canada’s good name to the organized exercise in scapegoating (Israel) that is the Durban process.”
The United States and Israel walked out of the first Durban conference in 2001 after a draft resolution singled out Israel and compared Zionism to racism. The United States and Israel also boycotted Durban II in 2009.