“Durban Revisited” – A JBS Series Marking the U.N. Racism Conference’s 20th Anniversary – Tackles Enduring Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism
(Washington, D.C., August 26, 2021)--B’nai B’rith International—which mobilized the largest multinational Jewish delegation at the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa—is capping a year of efforts to highlight that event’s notorious anti-Semitism with a series of exclusive televised programs in partnership with the Jewish Broadcasting Service (JBS), reaching over 75 million homes across America.
The series, “Durban Revisited,” coming in the run-up to a high-level U.N. commemoration of the racism conference’s 20th anniversary, features luminaries including onetime Soviet prisoner of conscience Natan Sharansky, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, former United States national security advisor John Bolton and French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy. It will run from the eve of the anniversary of the conference’s start, on August 30, through the date of the forthcoming U.N. summit, Sept. 22. On that day, JBS will air a centerpiece interview with B’nai B’rith Honorary President Richard D. Heideman, who led the Jewish caucus at Durban and ultimately a walkout from it, along with his wife, International March of the Living President Phyllis G. Heideman.
The Durban conference was marred by shocking demonstrations of anti-Jewish animus only at times camouflaged as anti-Zionism. Its official outcome document singled out Israel alone—the world’s only Jewish state and the Middle East’s only democracy—for implied characterization as racist. B’nai B’rith has called on key democracies to decline participation in next month’s U.N. commemoration of Durban, and at least 11 countries have already announced that they will do so.
The series on JBS, which will also be carried on B’nai B’rith’s YouTube channel, accompanied by a special message from B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman, will feature interviews by B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin with the diverse public figures, who also include Canadian champion of human rights Irwin Cotler, currently his government’s special envoy on combating anti-Semitism, and Alma Hernandez, a Hispanic Jewish member of the Arizona House of Representatives who has spearheaded legislation on Holocaust education.
Additionally, B’nai B’rith U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs Director David Michaels will moderate two panel discussions on anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bigotry. Panelists include George Deek, Israeli envoy to Azerbaijan and his country’s first Christian Arab ambassador; Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and former foreign minister of the Maldives; Ruth Baroness Deech, a member of the British House of Lords; and Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem.
Also participating are Ellie Cohanim, former U.S. deputy special envoy to combat anti-Semitism; Olga Meshoe Washington, a native of South Africa who is CEO of DEISI International; Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor; and Sherri Mandell, co-founder and co-president of the Koby Mandell Foundation, whose young son was murdered by Palestinian terrorists 20 years ago.
Previous B’nai B’rith programs on Durban over recent months have featured, for French-speaking audiences, Yehuda Lancry—who was Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. at the time of the conference in 2001—and Marina Rosenberg, Israeli ambassador to Chile, who addressed Spanish-speaking communities across the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, B’nai B’rith joined the Combat Antisemitism Movement and its partners in sponsoring a virtual program featuring, among others, Gilad Erdan, the ambassador of Israel to the United States and the United Nations.
Through advocacy targeting world leaders, published op-eds and formal interventions at the U.N., B’nai B’rith has led the global Jewish response to efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israel by maligning it as “racist.” More broadly, with a dedicated Office of U.N. Affairs and accredited representation at U.N. agencies worldwide, B’nai B’rith has been at the forefront of Jewish engagement with the world body since 1945. For more resources, and the schedule for “Durban Revisited” on JBS, please visit www.bnaibrith.org/durban-at-20. For online streaming of “Durban Revisited,” visit www.jbstv.org/watch-live or B’nai B’rith’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/BnaiBrithInternational/.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit bnaibrith.org.