Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Lahav Harkov of the Jerusalem Post asked the State Department whether the US will attend the Durban IV conference in September, which seemed a distinct possibility after the Biden administration mentioned the upcoming 20th anniversary of the antisemitic "UN World Conference Against Racism" in a joint statement led by the US at the UN Human Rights Council.

The US will keep up its policy of not participating in events commemorating the 2001 Durban Declaration, which singled out Israel as racist, a State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“The United States will not attend or participate in any events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action or the World Conference on Racism, which preceded it,” the spokesperson stated.

The State Department spokesperson said that the US “remains deeply committed to combating antisemitism at home and abroad. Furthermore, the United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment, use as a forum for antisemitism and freedom of expression issues.”

The spokesperson responded to a query from the Post about the March 2021 UN Human Rights Council Joint Statement on Countering Racism and Racial Discrimination, initiated by the US.

The State Department spokesperson said that the joint statement “includes a brief reference to the fact that the Durban conference happened 20 years ago and in no way reflects a change in our position regarding the problematic portions of the document or the process that led to its creation.”
Harkov contacted the State Department after reading my article about the UNHRC joint statement. She also quoted it in the piece.

The joint statement remains problematic, because it definitely gives Durban I legitimacy, and mentioning it was not necessary for the letter. Moreover, mentioning Durban ensured that Israel could not join the 156 signatories to the letter, which meant that the US did something to isolate Israel on the world stage. So there are still some unanswered questions.

It would also have been much better for the State Department to have issued the statement distancing itself from Durban IV publicly, rather than from an anonymous spokesperson.

Nevertheless, it is good to see this statement, and that the Biden Administration won't do what many feared, in the name of "anti-racism." Which was what the original Durban conference was supposed to be about, anyway. 

I wasn't the first person to notice the US joint letter mentioning Durban. That was Anne Bayefsky, of Human Rights Voices. 


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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