Durban IV, held this year on Sept. 22 and marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, turned out to be a debacle. This was expected.
But the lies that it propagated, like those of its predecessors, did not begin in 2001, with the first such gathering in South Africa. The world should have seen what was coming back in 1975 when the “Zionism is racism” mantra was introduced with the passage of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3379.
Indeed, Durban was and remains a most regrettable creation of the United Nations.
It is high time for the United Nations to reject useless distractions from its mission of promoting humanity and peace. It must simply prohibit this hateful commemorative event from happening again.
If member countries want to hold a festival of hate, they should do so without the blessing or the name of the United Nations. To go through this dishonest exercise of announcing something in the name of fighting racism, which prompts at least 20 Western countries correctly to boycott it, while others attend under political pressure, is ridiculous.
The United Nations should just save itself the embarrassment of having its name attached to this fiasco. The countries firmly committed to Durban are those that have called for Israel’s destruction. Many of them commiserate with Iran.
“Zionism is racism” is just a catchy slogan. Of course, there’s no truth in it. Zionism is not racism. The ancestral Jewish homeland, like Judaism itself, is built and based on a code of humanitarian behavior that is reflected today in Israel’s richly diverse population, one conceived in freedom, free will and mutual respect. The rest, let’s be honest, is politics and opinion. As in any democracy, Israel feasts on political debate. Its history reflects such energy.
For millennia, expanding civilizations made the Holy Land the prize of conquests. Jewish settlement there in an industrial world increased in the 1800s, even before Theodor Herzl launched the Zionist movement.
For 73 years, the modern State of Israel has blossomed as a legal, sovereign nation and is the foundation of thousands of years of the history and practice of Judaism.
In addition to Zionism not being racism, Israel is not an “apartheid” state. The mere utterance of words doesn’t make it so.
The construction of a security wall or other security provisions does not make it so. The BDS movement, another demeaning, delegitimizing campaign, is mostly harmful economically to Palestinians and enemies who perpetuate destructive “from the river to the sea” rhetoric. Israel does not exist on illegally occupied land. Research the Six-Day War (1967) and the Yom Kippur War (1973).
These propagandistic themes are bogus. They persist without any basis in fact. Neither do such messaging efforts help the ambition, vision or hope for a Palestinian state. Any effort to guide or assist Palestinians toward statehood is getting a sneak preview in Gaza and parts of the West Bank (Areas A and B). They are not managing well, but not because of Israel. They are failing because of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which maintain the failed ambitions since the U.N.’s Partition Plan.
Durban will forever be known as a failure, the utter antithesis of the United Nations. So embarrassingly flawed is its heinous mission that it raises one question: Why allow these commemorations to occur at all? What is the purpose of the United Nations convening “hate fests” against a country that, in fact, delivers so many positive contributions to repairing the world? Consider the following:
The answer is as simple as it is obvious. There is no purpose in convening any Durban commemorative event. None. It is a waste of time and resources.
Surely, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, a man of peace, understands how such events linked to Durban are counterproductive. In the same way that UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) removed the Carnival of Aalst in Belgium from its World Heritage list in 2019, the General Assembly and its agencies should disengage from anti-Zionist festivals.
Such events are poisoning minds. As Durban IV is now part of the past, perhaps the U.N. can exercise its power to halt Durban V.
Read President Kaufman's analysis in JNS.
Charles O. Kaufman is president of B'nai B'rith International.
With the one-year delay of the 2020 Olympics due to COVID-19, the Tokyo Games of 2021 are one year closer to the 50th anniversary of the Munich Massacre by the Palestinian terror group Black September. In 1972, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) promised to remember, even declaring, "We will never forget." But that message, too commonly repeated since the Holocaust, never seems to sink in.
Days before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC maintains its history of rejecting any "moment of silence" for the Munich 11, which arguably introduced the free world to international terrorism. The lobbying effort by victims' families, at least in the past decade, has been rejected or ignored by the IOC. In contrast, the IOC allowed American athletes in 2002 to enter the stadium with a flag from the recently torpedoed and collapsed World Trade Center. The IOC maintains that, under Avery Brundage's leadership, it memorialized the 11 murdered Israelis with a service a day after the September 5, 1972 murders.
In place of a moment of silence every four years, host countries today spend fortunes—600 million pounds at the 2012 Games in London and $895 million at the Rio Games of 2016—to ensure the safety of more than 200 national athletic delegations. The Olympic Games, founded in the spirit of international harmony, were once considered bulletproof from a hostage-taking episode.
War was reserved for military battlefields—not the well-kept apartments of an Olympic village. American distance runner Kenny Moore, then 28, recalled in 2012: "I had believed the Olympics immune somehow to the threats of the larger world. It was an illusion, but it had been a hell of a strong illusion and it rocked me personally to have that shattered."
The 1972 games were supposed to be the games of peace—an example of German redemption from the 1936 Games in Berlin, which coincided with the heinous Nazi era that led to the systemic extermination of 11 million innocents, including at least 6 million Jews. In Munich, Germany wanted to show the world that it had reformed its image; that these Olympics could be peacefully policed without the menacing muscle of German force. They were unprepared and were barely armed.
Today, following 9/11, all major sporting events—not just the Olympics—prepare for the possibility of terrorism.
Just as the Nazis introduced the world to gas chambers and the reduction of atrophied bodies to dust through crematoria, so too did the Palestinians introduce the world to international terrorism at the Munich Games.
Almost 50 years later, many still remember the image of a white ski-masked gunman standing on a balcony of the Olympic Village, brandishing a machine gun. In what today is just part of a history of hostage-taking and hijacking for the purposes of trading Israeli Jews for hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinian captives, the Munich mission sought 200 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 11 Israeli Olympians.
Two Jews were shot initially to underline the threat. Negotiations led to an attempt to facilitate the release of the hostages, but the Palestinians took advantage of a bungled rescue attempt by German police, allowing one fleeting moment for a terrorist leader to toss a grenade into a helicopter, killing the remaining nine Israelis. Five of the terrorists were killed during a failed attempt to rescue the hostages, as was a West German police officer. The three Palestinian survivors were arrested and released by West German officials less than two months later.
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan directed Mossad to lead a retaliation effort. With the assistance of European intelligence agencies, 10 Palestine Liberation Organization bases in Syria and Lebanon were bombed. This was part of a broader Israeli assassination campaign, dubbed Operation Wrath of God, that eliminated all perpetrators and planners of the Munich raid by 1979.
Forty-five years after the massacre, a memorial at Munich's Olympic Park was unveiled with families of the victims in attendance. Reuven Rivlin, then-president of Israel, proclaimed the Munich Games as "the blood Olympics." Then-German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "It should never have happened."
The IOC insists that Olympics opening ceremonies are inappropriate moments for remembering the Munich victims. But, if not every four years, when?
The IOC executive board agreed in 2015 that the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 would offer "a mourning place" to remember "all those who have lost their lives at the Olympic Games." The monument included two stones from ancient Olympia and a memorial for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a luge track crash the day before the 2010 Vancouver Games began. The IOC acknowledged that the moment of reflection could include the murdered Israelis in Munich. An engraved base with the interlocking Olympic rings reads: "We will always remember you forever in our hearts."
Remember who, for what, and why?
The IOC must put forward a gold-medal effort after almost 50 years to remind the world of the Munich Massacre.
Read President Kaufman's analysis in Newsweek.
Charles O. Kaufman is president of B'nai B'rith International.
There’s no right way to do something wrong, even for the venerable New York Times. Last week, with a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel just days old, the Times created a large block of 64 “headshots” to tease stories inside.
“They were just children,” stated a heading above the photos of 69 Palestinian youths reportedly killed in the conflict. The caption added, “They had wanted to be doctors, artists, and leaders.” The loss of life is enough of a tragedy, much less the lives of future doctors, artists, and “leaders.” How amazing that the terror group Hamas would put such talent in harm’s way.
Journalistically, the problem with this presentation is at least two-fold. First, there are no photographs of Israeli innocent residents, including children, who were indiscriminately killed by the rain of 4,300-plus rockets during the 11-day spree. Next, there was no reference to the roughly 50 of 200 or so Palestinian deaths that were victims of misfired Hamas missiles or those that fell short of targets in Israeli villages and cities. That’s quite a glaring omission for an international news organization.
Any reader with a heartbeat will feel anything from empathy to outrage against a perpetrator of such a result, particularly if the newspaper has a built-in bias against Israel, the Zionist entity that it wants you to believe targets innocent civilians, engages in apartheid policy, occupies stolen land as a step-child of the United States. It is clever work that most freedom-loving people would expect from government-run newspapers from Tehran, Moscow, or Beijing. But this was on the front page of The New York Times, winner of more than 130 Pulitzer Prizes since 1917.
As for the “doctors, artists and leaders,” what parent doesn’t have big dreams for their children? At the very least, parents want their children to be happy and prepare for full lives.
The problem with lofty career/life aspirations—doctors, artists, and leaders—is that Hamas can’t deliver that opportunity. Hamas has one goal—to train jihadists to create the Islamic state in place of Israel. More specifically, Hamas advocates the “obliteration or dissolution of Israel.”
As with the May 28 front-page presentation in The Times and ancient blood libels of pogroms and expulsions past, today’s lies inflame and incite acts of anti-Semitism in the United States with such terms as apartheid and stolen and occupied land. The charge that Israel intentionally targets children is simply false. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority know it. Most Western countries know it but fear reprisals in their own countries if they acknowledge it. Even radar images from Israel Defense Forces planes show bombing raids called off when images detect children.
The “nation” of Palestine lives daily in a fantasy: flags, rockets, and all. They do so in the United Nations and in foreign capitals to create an impression for cameras and social media propaganda. A generation with little education nor respect for history has accepted the propaganda. The Times has accepted it as if its readers were born yesterday.
Palestinian leaders seem to lack the appetite to negotiate differences with Israel. Victimhood certainly is more profitable, at least for warlords, than building an economy in which future doctors, artists, and leaders can flourish. Palestinians have even captured the imagination of movement-hungry Americans, even many Jews, who’ve swallowed hook, line, and sinker the Palestinians’ false narratives.
I hope the Palestinians find a way to build a nation of doctors, artists, and leaders in a future generation or sooner. I hope they take the 141 square miles in Gaza and portions of the West Bank to do so. I pray that the doctors, artists, and leaders show the capacity to partner with Israel, the “Startup Nation,” to build a real economy. Many already are. I truly hope they find the vision to replace actually starting wars with building an economy. The paradise that jihadists seek is available in demilitarized territories and along Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline.
Again, there is no right way to do something wrong. As for The Times, its writers and editors certainly have a right to their opinions. But the reputation and integrity of a news organization with a slew of Pulitzers depend on a full picture of valid and verifiable information, all presented responsibly. Only then will their example serve the future doctors, artists, and leaders to fuel a vision of working in tandem with Israel. Only through partnerships will the world find peace.
Read President Kaufman's expert take in Inside Sources.
Charles O. Kaufman is president of B'nai B'rith International.
At the turn of the 21st century, much of the world feared computers around the world would crash, setting off all kinds of millennial chaos. It didn’t happen. Clocks continued to tick; computers continued to run.
For the United Nations, perhaps the time was right for another chance to rid the world of racism, end slavery, and sex trafficking of women and children. Perhaps it was time to conquer famine and disease. In 2001, planning for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance took shape. The site for this noble, if not symbolic event, was Durban, a location on the southern coast of Africa, a continent racked by all of the above problems.
As often happens with the United Nations, a space built on visions of peace, the event aimed at fighting humanity’s millennia-old maladies would devolve into a hatefest. Durban, instead, would become a battleground against an ancient people who’d build an identity from receiving a divine code of human behavior and entering a sliver of real estate bordering the Mediterranean. Four days into the event, the United States and Israel withdrew their delegations in protest.
Twenty years after Durban, the very United Nations that organized and promoted the original Durban Conference announced another round of fighting human rights and racism. Fast-forward 20 years into the 21st century. Something called the “Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” (DDPA) is planned to offer “discussions” that will become a report to be presented to the U.N. General Assembly at its 76th session in 2021 and the Human Rights Council’s 45th session. Can’t wait. And neither can Iran.
The representative of Iran requested that on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the DDPA, the Intergovernmental Working Group would “address the wide range of issues addressed in the DDPA, as well as the new manifestations of discrimination,” in particular issues of “xenophobia and Islamophobia.” So full of irony is this request from one of the chief violators of human rights in the world that one can only wonder if such a request from this member-nation makes the entire event a nonstarter, at least for the United States and Israel.
Other nations have requested that the 20th anniversary of Durban be celebrated with “one thematic event” in Geneva and one “high-level political event” in New York. Other groups requested producing promotional materials and “high visibility” from such countries as South Africa and Cuba, among others. Much, if not all, of the free world must wonder if the phrase “well-intentioned” has a chance to be relevant here. What’s more, the plans call for member states, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, of which B’nai B’rith International is so credentialed, to organize and participate in the Durban 20th anniversary programs.
The framework for this meeting is beginning to sound awfully like something the world has already witnessed in the first Durban Conference. Are we headed for Durban déjà vu—another hatefest?
When the governments of Iran, Cuba and South Africa figure prominently in the planning, it’s reasonable to feel skepticism. Will the funds budgeted for this conference perpetuate United Nations bias against Israel? This funding could surely be better spent on reducing famine and sickness.
What else would make such a conference fruitful? Dream about these developments: the U.N. conference opens with a salute to Gulf States and other countries seeking peace and normalized relations with Israel. The Palestinian Authority declares the end of its covenant to destroy the State of Israel. Gone is the drumbeat of language declaring Israel an “apartheid state.” A new Palestinian government replaces its covenant and ceases uttering the refrain about how Israel targets innocent children and stops claiming the Temple Mount and the Western Wall have no attachment to the Jewish people. Imagine the progress in such a world. Nice dream. (Snap) Wake up.
Twenty years ago, while people from the free world were packing for Durban, pre-conference documents assailed Israel for “the racist practices of Zionism.” In 2021, contrary to popular belief, many in the world understand and appreciate positive contributions of Muslims and their faith in God. At the same time, no one can honestly deny Islamophobia or xenophobia of any kind, particularly when significant parts of the world live with extremist threats to kill other people, destroy other faiths or cultures and “annihilate” Israel.
Twenty years ago, delegations condemned Israel for her “treatment of Palestinians” in defending her borders. Never mind the relentless terror directed at Israel, the tunneling, kidnappings, stabbings of civilians, the firing missiles at Israeli towns from Gaza homes, schools, hospitals, even mosques.
The DDPA should try again to promote racial reconciliation, to construct a message of peace and harmony and do what the United Nations was designed to do since 1945 — “to prevent conflict, to help parties in conflict to make peace or to create conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.” Avoid Durban Déjà vu.
Read President Kaufman's expert analysis in Inside Sources.
Charles O. Kaufman is president of B'nai B'rith International.
Who says the pandemic has killed theater in New York? It thrives at one of the world’s largest stages – the United Nations. In no other place in the world does comedy and tragedy mix with such demonic fanfare. While the ever-popular Lion King is scheduled to resume in June 2021 at the Minskoff Theatre, the Lying King continued its notorious run last week at the UN General Assembly.
What began with “Palestinian Solidarity Day” weeks ago ended with nothing more than another round of votes to appease Palestinians and allow them to perpetuate their victim-for-profit campaign. As the dust settles from the latest round of UN voting, we find nothing has changed, albeit the number of “Yes” votes is declining. The “All The World’s a Stage Theater” allows Palestinians merely to add to the list of anti-Israel resolutions and build on anti-Israel bias. Beyond screaming headlines, not much else is reality.
This year, my fellow theater-goers, the plot thickens. In the 2020 version of The Lying King, the early acts are the same as the days of Partition on November 29, 1947, a day celebrated by Jews and condemned by Arabs. The story line is summarized this way: Out of disgust with Israel’s existence, Arab nations wage war on their enemy, hoping to push the Jews into the sea. Military defeats to Israelis fuel the Arab world to wage future conflict, all the while using the UN as a platform for demeaning the Jewish state with a series of resolutions and a fruitless boycott movement.
With every subsequent scene to this play, maps get redrawn to reflect conquests of 1948, 1967 and 1973. The West Bank, once part of Jordan, changed title to Israel in 1967. Land once belonging to Jordan suddenly became “occupied” by Israel. The Six Day War that year delivered Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. In the Yom Kippur War, the Golan Heights, once used by Syria to attack the north of Israel, would become prized territory. A couple of parcels would become bargaining chips for treaties. The Sinai returned to Egypt and, as agreed, the Jordanian Wakf would govern the Islamic holy site on the Temple Mount. The peace holds with Egypt and Jordan. Accords in Oslo reimagined the West Bank into Areas A, B and C. These accords were violated as the Palestinians ushered in an era of intifadas, replete with suicide bombings and other terrorism. Who did the UN condemn? Israel, of course, in a landslide.
Act III begins with failed negotiations and a rise in terrorism, including stabbings and kidnappings facilitated through tunneling, which prompt disputed Jewish settlements in Area C. A hopeful turn of events in Gaza led to Israel withdrawing Jewish settlers from the slice of land along the Mediterranean. Enter Hamas.
As the play moves along, Gaza becomes a launching pad for more terrorism and retaliation by Israel, which leads to heightened and increased drama in the UN with more resolutions condemning Israel. From 1967 to 1989, the UN Security Council adopted 131 resolutions addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict. Each year, 20 pro-Palestinian resolutions are passed by the General Assembly. At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the notorious “Item 7” is the only permanent agenda item, and it is designated for criticism of Israel. The rest of the world is collectively submitted under “Item 4.”
OH, AND the story gets better. The Palestinians get a boost from Iran and Syria as their leadership uses the United Nations to gain nonmember observer status (2012). Economic relations among nations on all continents with Israel, leading to a warming of relations, have been doused with cold water in the UN by yet the next round of resolutions and false narratives, including resolutions that argue Israel has no historical claim to the Western Wall or the Temple Mount. The “State of Palestine” argues it is exclusively a Muslim site. Of course, this is simply false.
The Palestinians, still floating rounds of rhetoric and propaganda – invoking such inflammatory verbiage as Nazis, apartheid and worse – reject recent normalization treaties with Israel by Arab states, the UAE and Bahrain. While these Arab states embrace a two-state solution, they also see the great short-term benefits building enterprise with Israel.
The normalization narrative weakens Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas as it is a departure from the PLO mantra, much less the PLO charter, which denies the legitimacy of Israel, the existence of a historical or religious ties to “Palestine” and labels Zionism a racist, imperialist, fascist and colonialist political movement. At the very least, archaeological finds have given the Lying King a long run at the United Nations. As for colonization, Israel is slightly larger than New Jersey.
Palestinian and Arab rhetoric seeks to revert to the 1967 borders and designate east Jerusalem (the Old City) as a capital. Turning back the clock 54 years is unlikely, if not impossible. Truly, it is mere staging for Israel’s destruction.
Meanwhile, the rhetoric by Afghanistan, Iran and other outliers make glorifying speeches at perennial Palestinian pep rallies. They cry out against “denying the historical and legal rights of the Palestinian people... It is time to stand for justice.” These lines get delivered with perfection and even a straight face. The story of lies and deception is flawless.
At the United Nations, art does not imitate life. The refrain to the Palestinians simply falls on deaf ears. Come to the negotiating table and negotiate face-to-face with Israel. You will get less than what you want but more than what you have today.
Read President Kaufman's expert analysis in the Jerusalem Post.
Charles O. Kaufman is president of B'nai B'rith International.
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