UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has complained of a “disparaging media and lobbying campaign” against the UN conference on racism aimed at silencing criticism of Israel by those with “narrow, parochial interests” who demonstrate “reflexive partisanship.”
This can be seen in the UK where Denis MacShane MP (a member of Labour Friends of Israel) has pressured the government to withdraw if “attacks on Jews are made” and the Jewish Human Rights Coalition (JHRC) has called on the government to withdraw completely, with notable success as the UK is now only sending a delegation, with no senior official.
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband held a series of telephone calls with representatives of the Jewish Human Rights Coalition (JHRC-UK) on the eve of the much-anticipated Durban Review Conference last Friday afternoon.
In three separate conversations, Henry Grunwald QC (President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council), Lord (Greville) Janner of Braunstone QC and Jeremy Newmark (CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council) took the opportunity to underline the full extent of communal concern around the conference.
The Foreign Secretary assured the communal representatives that as a result of their previous representations the UK had decided not to send a ministerial level representative, and had urged EU partners to act in a similar manner. He also reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to withdraw its delegation if red lines are crossed, and confirmed that any unacceptable language from the Iranian leader would meet with a firm response.
Henry Grunwald QC commented:
“Under the umbrella of JHRC-UK, our community has consistently advocated engagement with the Durban Review Process, and contributed directly to it. At the same time, we have made it clear that this stance would change if there were signals that any of the antisemitism that marred the original Durban conference would reappear. We made it clear to the Foreign Secretary on Friday that we were already perilously close to that point, and that the prospect of Ahmadinejad addressing the conference was a travesty. This is why on Friday we asked the Foreign Secretary to once again reconsider UK involvement in this process and to withdraw from it.”
An article published in the Jerusalem Post by Caroline Glick demonstrated the true concerns of pro-Israel lobbyists, as by attending, she believed the US would be legitimising the verdict of the International Court of Justice in regard to the apartheid wall and would be adding credibility to the belief that Israel’s Law of Return is racist, both of which the draft declaration referred to.
However the BBC reports that the “draft final declaration has been causing much heated debate” and that “it has been watered down, with all references to Israel and the Middle East removed.”
The pro-Israel lobby has hamstrung the UN conference threefold, by diluting the content, reducing the credibility of the outcome through anti-semitic smearing and by reducing the number of nations attending.