Archive for the ‘Commentaries’ category

So, What Happened?

April 22, 2009

Zvika Krieger, who’s part of the AJC ACCESS delegation here in Geneva, opines at TNR that the Durban Review Conference has actually been a relative non-event.

The conference is ongoing, but, with the conference declaration passed and the drama of walkouts subsided, there is a definite sense of anti-climax.


Mahmoud’s Day in the Spotlight

April 20, 2009

The bad news:

  • Ahmadinejad still thinks that Israel shouldn’t exist, and that the world should urgently act to eradicate it. These views led at least a handful of delegates to applaud.
  • He was allowed to speak first at the general debate — “to accomodate the schedules of visiting dignitaries,” wink, wink — making him into a keynoter of sorts.

The good news:

  • He was greeted by hundreds of protestors.
  • Most or all of Europe — and, reportedly, Morocco — walked out. And his speech was roundly condemned as the nasty bit of hate-mongering that it was.

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.

If You Liked Durban I, You’ll Love Durban II

March 16, 2009

… A column in the Tehran Times inveighs against withdrawals from Durban II because the first go-around was so great — “democracy in its best manifestations,” even. A timely reminder of some of the problems with the conference, and of the ‘Israel is evil incarnate’ mindset that causes them.

(The author, by the way, is the editor of a Palestinian news website that appears to be rather fond of, um, “resistance.”)