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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Canada Withdraws Its Support From the Anti-Racism Durban Conference

Canada withdrew its support for the Durban Conference with Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity, stating that "Canada is interested in combating racism, not promoting it".
After the Durban I anti-racism conference, held in 2001, Canada continued their participation only so that could have their objections heard and recorded into the record, and Australia along with Canada made strong statements accusing the conference of hypocrisy.

A portion of Canada's statement:

Canada is still here today only because we wanted to have our voice decry the attempts at this Conference to de-legitimize the State of Israel and to dishonor the history and suffering of the Jewish people. We believe, and we have said in the clearest possible terms, that it was inappropriate - wrong - to address the Palestinian-Israel conflict in this forum. We have said, and will continue to say, that anything - any process, any declaration, any language - presented in any forum that does not serve to advance a negotiated peace that will bring security, dignity and respect to the people of the region is - and will be - unacceptable to Canada.

Canada's full statement can be found on pages 119-122 of this PDF file.

Australia's statement can be found on pages 117-118 of that same PDF file.

It was for those same reasons that the U.S and Israel both pulled their delegations from that previous conference.

The 2001 Durban conference is referred to by Jason Kenney, today, when he stated that "The 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban turned into "a circus of intolerance".

Reports from the Anti-defamation league from the 2001 conference showed that the NGO Forum and Youth Summit were bombarded with statements and demonstrations of hate aimed at Jews, Israel, Zionism, and the U.S.

With support from conference organizers and panel moderators, NGO speakers ignored their own agendas to digress into familiar Israel bashing and baiting. Jewish students distributing flowers while singing "all we are saying is give peace a chance" were drowned out by a large crowd holding Palestinian flags and banners, denouncing "Israeli apartheid" and calling for a continuation of the Intifada. Even a modest attempt by the Jewish organizations in Durban from around the world to present their concerns in a press conference were interrupted by protesters shouting anti- Israel epithets.

Todays news from the Canadian Press shows that Canada has withdrawn its support for the Durban II anti-racism conference, with Mr. Kenney stating "Our considered judgment, having participated in the preparatory meetings, was that we were set for a replay of Durban I. And Canada has no intention of lending its good name and resources to such a systematic promotion of hatred and bigotry."

Some of the things that Canada noted after participating in the preparatory meetings were that the preparatory meetings have been called on Jewish high holidays, preventing Israeli officials from participating and that Iran, which Kenney stated "This is a country whose government has publicly expressed its desire to eliminate the only Jewish country in the world", was named to the organizing committee.

He also noted that all of the non-governmental organizations invited to the first conference have been invited back to the second, including those that were at the "forefront of the hatred," some of which posted pro-Hitler posters at the 2001 gathering.

B'nai Brith Canada praised the government, saying Durban I had "degenerated into a hate-fest directed at Israel and the Jewish delegates attending the conference."

The group's executive vice-president, Frank Dimant, said Ottawa has acted "clearly and decisively by refusing to participate in a venue that pays lip service to anti-racism but in fact provides a platform for the promotion of hatred and bigotry."

More statements from Kenney include:

"The so-called Durban II conference "has gone completely off the rails" and Canada wants no part of it".

"We'll attend any conference that is opposed to racism and intolerance, not those that actually promote racism and intolerance.

"We've tried to influence it so that we would not revisit the overt expressions of hatred which came out of the original conference. But we unfortunately ran into a brick wall.

"The process has been hijacked by those who would seek to replay the terrible experience of the first Durban conference."

One Canadian Government official even called the conference "a gong show".

Canada took a strong stand today hoping to send a message to the Durban organizers and to other countries around the globe.

Canada's stand against the anti-Semitic HRC, and the charade of this conference should be commended, and this is one Jew that says... Canada... THANK YOU.