Anne Bayefsky, The Obama Administration Sacrifices Israel - Forbes.com
The Obama administration's decision to join the planning of the U.N.'s Durban II "anti-racism" conference has just taken a new twist: cover-up. On Friday, State Department officials and a member of the American Durban II delegation claimed the United States had worked actively to oppose efforts to brand Israel as racist in the committee drafting a Durban II declaration. The trouble is that they didn't.The fact that "the Palestinians" have been granted an honorific sovereignty by the manipulators of the UN, that they have a delegation taking a lead in this anti-Israel conference, even though "the Palestinians" have never had a government willing to act like a responsible state, negotiating honestly with the fact of its neighbour's existence as a powerful military and economic and demographic reality, is the greatest irresponsibility. It guarantees the ability of Palestinians to forever encourage their own martyrdom to what cannot be acknowledged, i.e. of avoiding serious recognition of and negotiation with Israel, all the while confident the UN will take on the task the Palestinians cannot achieve in the real world with diplomatic, military or economic means: penalizing Israel, throwing its existence into doubt. The Palestinians don't want to negotiate like a responsible state, accepting its neighbor's existence; they want Mommy UN to impose "justice" on the recalcitrant. This is just another form of taxing and killing the successful to indulge the resentments of a failed ideology or religion. In the long run, this can only lead to a more totalitarian world order, one that erodes the ability of constitutional democracies to allow ordinary human realities to represent themselves and take a full part in governing themselves. Instead of talking seriously about the ordinary economic, social, and political needs of the Palestinians, nothing much can be said other than nothing can be said until Israel is dealt with. This is how an unrepresentative elite commands the stage, as high priests in a drama of human sacrifice. As Wretchard at Belmont Club aptly summarizes:
The Feb. 20 State Department press release says the U.S. delegation in Geneva "outline[d] our concerns with the current outcome document" and in particular "our strong reservations about the direction of the conference, as the draft document singles out Israel for criticism." One member of the delegation told The Washington Post: "The administration is pushing back against efforts to brand Israel as racist in this conference." In fact, tucked away in a Geneva hall with few observers, the U.S. had done just the opposite. The U.S. delegates had made no objection to a new proposal to nail Israel in an anti-racism manifesto that makes no other country-specific claims.
The reality, however, was nothing of the sort. Instead, Obama's Durban II team slipped easily into the U.N.'s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish environs, taking the approach that "fitting in" was best accomplished by staying silent.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian delegation proposed inserting a new paragraph under the heading "Identification of further concrete measures and initiatives ... for combating and eliminating all manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance..." with the subtitle "General provisions on victims ... of discrimination." The paragraph includes: "Calls for ... the international protection of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory." In other words, it claims that the Palestinian people are victims of Israeli racism and demands that all U.N. states provide protection from the affronts of the racist Jewish state.
Furthermore, the new Palestinian provision "Calls for ... implementation of international legal obligations, including the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall..." This is a dramatic attempt to change an "advisory opinion" into a "legal obligation"--a status which attaches to no advisory opinion. The ICJ decision, which advises that the Israeli security fence is illegal, has always been rejected by the United States--hitherto. And with good reason. The Egyptian judge had voiced his opinion on the result before the case was even heard, in his capacity as a leading Egyptian diplomat. The terms of reference from the General Assembly who asked for the decision, and the documents they laid before the Court, predetermined the outcome. And as the strong dissent by the American judge and Holocaust survivor Tom Buergenthal pointed out, the Court came to its preposterous conclusion that "the right of legitimate or inherent self-defense is not applicable in the present case" without considering "the deadly terrorist attacks to which Israel is being subjected."
But when the Palestinian delegation laid their new proposal before the drafting committee, what did Obama's team do? Nothing, absolutely nothing. They made no objection at all.
It is impossible to argue that their silence was unintended. Over the course of the week's negotiations the American delegation had objected to a number of specific proposals. They had no trouble declaring "we share reservations on this paragraph," in the context of a demand to criminalize profiling. They "called for the deletion" of provisions undermining free speech like the suggestion to "take firm action against negative stereotyping of religions and defamation of religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols."
Their silence when it came to Israel was, therefore, deafening. It also had the very concrete result of not placing the Palestinian paragraph in dispute, and the diplomatic rule of thumb is that paragraphs that have not been flagged as controversial cannot be reopened for discussion, as negotiations finalize an end product.
The Obama team was not only silent on the new "Israel is racist" language, it also said nothing when faced with Holocaust denial. Negotiators from the European Union suggested on Wednesday a new provision to "condemn without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urges all states to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full, or in part, or any activities to this end." Iran--whose president is a Holocaust-denier--immediately objected and insisted that the proposal be "bracketed" or put in dispute. The move blocked the adoption of the proposal and ensured another battle over the reality of the Holocaust in April--at these supposedly "anti-racism" meetings. After Iran objected, the chair looked around the room, expecting a response. He said: "Is there any delegation wishing to comment on this new proposal by the European Union? It doesn't seem the case. We move on." U.S. delegates said nothing, even after the prompt.
Evidently, a U.S. team bent on legitimizing Durban II believed it would be counter-productive to object vigorously to sections most likely to be noticed by Americans skeptical about participation in the conference. They must have figured that no objection would mean no controversy, which in turn would mean there would be no cause for complaint from U.S. observers. That's one way to buy favors on the international stage, but it sure doesn't forward a stated intention of changing the Conference direction. Nor does it promote the ultimate need to change the anti-Semitic and anti-democratic direction of global human rights policy.
I think the real issue here is the extent to which self-appointed organizations can create either law or compelling persuasion without any sort of democratic grounding. NGOs and regimes like Syria or Iran for example, are of dubious legitimacy. Yet they are participants, even the ringleaders, in an international attempt to “legislate” the behavior of third parties. Where did they get this power? This issue isn’t confined to racism or reparations. That is only its most egregious form. Whether on climate or social mores, organization like this have created an lawmaking process that is unaccountable. Moreover, they are imputing to themselves the power to tax. Suppose “reparations” became a Human Right, where does it end? Can Filipinos sold to slavery to the Moluccas apply? Can Europeans who were captured as slaves apply? Can Robert Mugabe’s population apply to regimes like his for recompense? Can the people of Darfur apply to the UN for compensation for the suffering occasioned by UN inaction?
No. Because they’re not represented directly at places like Durban.
Although this issue has been represented as an anti-semitic enterprise, it goes deeper than that. This is an irregular proceeding that is taking place outside the constitutional structures of states. Outside the control of voters, except at so many removes that there is barely a connection. I know it will be argued that the states have to “agree” but in the nature of things, these international bullying sessions are an exercise in shakedowns and blackmail.
The solution here is to reform the UN and to put a stop all these nonsensical conferences on climate, racism, human rights, etc which impose huge costs on the taxpayers of the world and are run, moreover, by the worst violators in the issues they purport to care so much about. If the UN really wants to do something it should host a conference calling for the stop to shakedowns like Durban. It’s a waste of money and an abomination.
Today it is Israel. Tomorrow it will be some other cause. And that next imposition will be all the more legitimate because of precedent. Where does Durban II gets its legitimacy? From previous conferences. It’s not Durban II people should be concerned about. It’s Durban III.