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Statement on Durban

The Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes the Prime Minister’s decision to withdraw from the Durban IV event.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “The Prime Minister’s decision is a sign of leadership. It continues his government’s principled position of refusing to cooperate with the UN’s anti-Israel resolutions and activities. Mr Morrison’s decision is also a continuation of the principled position of the former Labor Government to boycott the two previous Durban conferences. Given the bipartisan consensus of the previous decisions, I look forward to a bipartisan consensus to emerge now.”

Mr Leibler continued, “Racism must be fought, and international events to highlight racism are important. But the Durban process was infected by antisemitism, which undermined its raison d’être.”

Background

What is Durban IV?

In September this year, in New York, as world leaders are gathered for the UN General Assembly ‘leaders’ week’, a one-day UN event will be held to mark the 20th anniversary of the 2001 Durban conference, and to pass a resolution endorsing the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, and calling for its full implementation. We believe Australia should boycott this event.

What was ‘Durban I’, and what happened there that was so bad?

The 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism was held in Durban in early September 2001. It consisted of a government-level conference and an NGO forum. The NGO forum was marked by many displays of overt antisemitism, such as threats of violence to participating Jewish organisations, mob disruptions of events about antisemitism, demonstrations that called for violence against Israel, and thousands of posters comparing Israel with the Nazis and calling Israel an apartheid state. Stalls at the NGO forum sold copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In the government-level conference, handouts compared Israel to the Nazis. The US and Israel walked out of the conference.

The conference’s resulting document was the Durban Declaration and Program of Action. Despite being a 62-page document full of condemnations of racism and calls to end all forms of it, it named only one country—Israel—and only one national group—Palestinians.

 

Australia under Labor boycotted the Durban II and III conferences

A Durban Review Conference (‘Durban II’) was held in 2009. Australia, then led by a Labor government, was among 10 countries that boycotted, including Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States (this was during the Obama Administration). As if to confirm the anti-Israel spirit of the Durban process, at the Durban Review Conference, a speaker said, “The word Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuses religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces”.

To mark the tenth anniversary of Durban Declaration and Program of Action in 2011, ‘Durban III’ was held in New York at the same time as the UN General Assembly leaders’ week. This time, 14 countries refused to participate, including all the Five-Eyes countries. Australia was led by a Labor government at the time.