Chris Hedges examines the boycott of the UN conference on racism explaining that “racism, an endemic feature of Israeli and American society, is not, we have decided, open for international inspection.”
Israel and the United States, which could be charged under international law with crimes against humanity for actions in Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, will together boycott the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Geneva. Racism, an endemic feature of Israeli and American society, is not, we have decided, open for international inspection. Barack Obama may be president, but the United States has no intention of accepting responsibility or atoning for past crimes, including the use of torture, its illegal wars of aggression, slavery and the genocide on which the country was founded. We, like Israel, prefer to confuse lies we tell about ourselves with fact.
The Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute CIA and Bush administration officials for the use of torture because it wants to look to the future is easy to accept if you were never tortured. The decision not to confront slavery and the continued discrimination against African-Americans is easy to accept if your ancestors were not kidnapped, crammed into slave ships, denied their religion and culture, deprived of their language, stripped of their names, severed from their families and forced into generations of economic misery. The decision not to discuss the genocide of Native Americans is easy if your lands were not stolen and your people driven into encampments and slaughtered. The doctrine of pre-emptive war and illegal foreign occupation is easy to accept if you are not a Palestinian, an Iraqi or an Afghan.
The Durban II UN conference on racism has suffered a series of blows as the USA, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands joined Israel, Italy and Canada in boycotting the talks.
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.
In mid-February Obama met with Jewish leaders to explain why the government had decided to participate in planning the “controversial” World Conference Against Racism. The Haaretz reported that:
The closed-door talks were led by the White House and the State Department, according to the JTA, and the content of the meeting was off-the-record.
The meeting was held after the State Department sent a high-level team to an informal preparatory session in Geneva this week, but declared that a “change in direction” was required before it could commit to full participation in the April meeting.