Speaking at a commemoration session at the United Nations, the foreign minister of Iran spoke about "state-apartheid in the Palestinian occupied territories." He also referenced a "racist Zionist Regime" in his remarks. At the opening plenary, after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged opposition to anti-Semitism among other forms of bigotry, the African Group was represented by a government official of Sudan—responsible for some of the world’s greatest recent atrocities—who invoked the plight of “all those under foreign occupation.”
The 2001 Durban, South Africa, conference epitomized the expression of hatred against Israel and Jews at the world body. Now, at the anniversary event, the United Nations reaffirmed as a “solid foundation for combating racism” the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), which singled out Israel for mention and listed the Palestinians in the section on “victims of racism.”
“Unfortunately, some of the statements at this commemoration mirrored the biased attitudes of the original Durban conference,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs, who is attending high-level meetings with U.N. member state delegations, said. “We commend all those democracies that did the right thing by choosing not to attend this ‘commemoration.’”
Nations choosing in advance to avoid the conference: Australia, Austria, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland and the United States.
“Once again, rogue nations took the podium to perpetuate a cynical and singular focus on Israel at a United Nations forum, which overshadowed the very objective of combating racism and intolerance,” added B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, also in New York for high-level meetings with U.N. member state representatives.
At the commemoration events at the United Nations, the foreign minister of Lebanon said that there is no anti-Semitism in the Arab world. And he claimed that the Jewish character of Israel is contrary to the principle of equality. Syria, too—a country currently engaged in brutal repression of its own citizens—accused Israel of “crimes” founded on racism, while pledging “categorical commitment” to the full implementation of the DDPA.
B’nai B’rith International hosted an event on Sept. 21 assessing the decade since the original Durban conference. Featured speakers included Hannah Rosenthal, United States special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism; Irwin Cotler, member of the Canadian Parliament and former minister of justice and attorney general, Canada; Ambassador John R. Bolton, former U.S. undersecretary of state and permanent representative to the United Nations; and Malcolm I. Hoenlein, executive vice chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; as well as Richard D. Heideman, B’nai B’rith International honorary president, who served as head of the B’nai B’rith delegation—the largest such Jewish contingent—to the World Conference against Racism and the Durban Review Conference in 2009.