Germany has announced it will boycott the anti-Israeli Durban III conference in New York this month, dealing a blow to the meeting’s credibility.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin there is probability that the 10th anniversary of the Durban I conference will be “misused for anti-Semitic statements, as was already the case at previous conferences."
He said the decision to boycott was "an expression of our special responsibility toward Israel." Israel, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy already have declared they will not participate in Durban III.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said Germany won't attend an anti-racism conference due to concerns about anti-Semitism. Westerwelle said, however, that Germany remains committed to the fight against racism.
The “Durban II” conference in Geneva in 2009 was used by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to launch a tirade against what Iran calls the “Zionist entity,” which Ahmadinejad has said several times is a “cancer” that should “wiped off the map.”
Germany’s Central Council of Jews president Dieter Grauman told a German news agency that the conference is an "organized show-trial against Israel.”
American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris responded to Germany’s boycott by hoping that other countries would follow suit.
"What a telling statement that many of the world's leading democracies have chosen to shun the upcoming Durban conclave -- with more to come in the next few weeks, we hope," he said.
U.N. Watch director Hillel Neuer commented, "We oppose the attempts by dictators and despots to use the Durban process to hijack this noble cause. [Durban I] "was marked by ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and that is not something that should be commemorated.”