Archive for March 2009

“Europe Won’t Compromise” … ??

March 31, 2009

A nice event at the European Parliament results in some good promises from EU officials that Europe “won’t compromise” on Durban II. (See report.) The promise that Europe will withdraw if red lines are crossed is not new. But: (1) When? and (2) Is the reaffirmation of the 2001 Durban Declaration one of those red lines?

In Washington, there’s not much surprise that Europe remains fully engaged with the process. The Russian re-draft seems to have been cleverly designed to eliminate the most noxious language and allowing Europe to stay in the game.


Fighting the Ban on “Defamation of Religions”

March 25, 2009

Reuters reports on a campaign underway in Geneva, in which AJC’s UN Watch is centrally involved, to combat efforts to ban the “defamation of religions” at the Human Rights Council, and in the Durban process.

Durban from a Different Perspective

March 24, 2009

For another take on U.S. engagement with Durban, check out Dewayne Wickham’s USA Today column from this morning, which argues that the new Durban text represents a successful diplomatic outcome, on which the black and Jewish communities can find common ground.

While the 2001 Durban Declaration is objectionable because it singles out Israel, it does include meaningful content on the actual of issue racism. For the Jewish community, its flaws outweigh its contributions, but that’s not the case for everyone. Let’s see how the politics play out.

Not Good Enough

March 24, 2009

JTA reports a sort of emerging Jewish communal consensus — the new text is nice, but “not good enough,” since it still reaffirms the 2001 Durban Declaration without reservation.

EU-Israel Talks on Human Rights, Racism

March 23, 2009

In the midst of the pitched debate about Durban, it’s worth keeping in mind that Israel and the EU have a generally healthy, growing, and wide-ranging bilateral agenda, including regular diplomatic consultations on human rights, racism, and anti-Semitism.

This report from the European Jewish Press describes talks between EU officials and the team of Aviva Raz Shechter, who has the anti-Semitism portofolio at the Israeli foreign ministry (and does a great job). Durban II was on the agenda, but so were many other things, including common efforts to combat hate crimes, prevent extremism, and stamp out anti-Semitism.

Again, worth keeping in mind that there’s a day after Durban, and when it comes, Europe and Israel will both have much to contribute to the struggle for a more humane world.

AJC Op-Ed: “Straight Talk on Durban”

March 23, 2009

Check out this JTA op-ed by Felice Gaer, director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. Credit the United States for “significant progress,” she says, but there’s still a long way to go before a genuine effort to fight racism is fully realized.

EU Deferring Decision on New Draft Text

March 20, 2009

JTA reports the EU is “heartened” by the new draft text — the official one, not the Dutch alternative proposal — but won’t decide until later whether it’s good enough to participate in the actual conference.