Of course hardliners don’t want to discuss the occupation

The forthcoming Durban II, the UN’s anti-racism conference, has been slammed and boycotted by the US, Israel and the Zionist establishment for its alleged obsession with the Jewish state.

But there are alternative views, such as this one by Ian Williams, author, journalist and pundit:

Those calling for a boycott include John Bolton, George Bush’s choice to represent the United States at the UN, who has never seen anything good about a UN conference or resolution. In the Jewish Chronicle, Melanie Philips, one of the conductors of the boycott chorus, splenetically described the coming “hatefest”, which she claimed, “is shaping up to be a vicious and racist onslaught against the human rights of the Jewish people. Its draft declaration singles out Israel for vilification. It accuses it of committing ”˜apartheid’, a ”˜crime against humanity’ and ”˜a form of genocide’. It says the Palestinians are the victims of Israeli oppression, implies that Zionism itself is racism, and calls for the end of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and (as in Durban I) for the ”˜right of return’ for Palestinians, which would mean the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.”

It is worth examining her allegations in detail. It was appropriate for the first conference to be in Durban. The South Africans have a detailed knowledge of apartheid, the most elaborately articulated system of racism in history. It is remarkable how many of the anti-apartheid leaders recognise it being practiced in the West Bank. It is true that they may be somewhat prejudiced since Israel was a major partner of the old apartheid regime, but it will be a foolhardy critic who accuses Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and other human rights icons of anti-Semitism. Even apartheid did not have segregated roads, the West Bank settlement’s contribution to modern racism, echoing the parody in the old television comedy The Goodies in which blacks and whites had to hop on the appropriate-coloured stripes of a Zebra crossing.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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