August 30, 2011
Back in 2001 the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance took place in Durban, South Africa. A follow-up conference was held in Geneva in 2009. Now Durban III is about to take place in New York (September 21).
What unites all three conferences is that they have been, and will be, little more than anti-Israel gabfests. Of course anything put on by the UN has to be questioned, but these conferences have been especially reprehensible. The amount of anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing that occurs there is quite ludicrous.
As if there are no nations on earth that deserve genuine censure for genuine racism and discrimination. Because the blatant hypocrisy and anti-Israel sentiments have been so bad, a number of nations have boycotted the conferences. Around a dozen countries boycotted the 2009 session, and already some nations have declared their absence from the upcoming conference.
Fortunately Australia has been one of them. It did not go in 2009 and will not go in 2011. The US has also boycotted both. Israel, of course, along with Holland, Italy, Canada and the Czech Republic are also boycotting the September conference.
While little good can be said about Julia Gillard, she has tended to be very supportive of Israel, which is one of the few reasons for supporting her. For example, she recently tangled with former PM Rudd over the issue of voting on a Palestinian state. Rudd wants Australia to simply abstain from the vote next month, while Gillard wants a stronger stance.
And Canada is currently led by a Prime Minister who is also very strongly pro-Israel. Conservative Stephen Harper has turned Canada into arguably the most pro-Israel nation in the world at the moment, and he has consistently been so since coming to power in 2006.
But such leaders and nations are few and far between. There may be nearly 150 nations attending next month, offsetting those who will boycott the event. So we can expect to see more business as usual in New York next month. The anti-Israel venom will continue apace and unabated.
Given all this hatred of Israel, it is worth getting some perspective on things here. Just how bad is Israel? Indeed, considering the Middle East as a whole, does it make any sense to pick on Israel? American Jewish commentator Dennis Prager offers some wise words here.
He demolishes the myth that Israel is some sort of apartheid nation which needs to be demonised. Consider how Arabs are treated in Israel, in contrast to how blacks were treated in South Africa: “Not one of those restrictions applies to Arabs living in Israel.
“One and a half million Arabs live in Israel, constituting about 20 percent of that country's population. They have the same rights as all other Israeli citizens. They can vote, and they do. They can serve in the Israeli parliament, and they do. They can own property and businesses and work in professions alongside other Israelis, and they do. They can be judges, and they are. Here's one telling example: it was an Arab judge on Israel's Supreme Court who sentenced the former president of Israel -- a Jew -- to jail on a rape charge.
“Some other examples of Arabs in Israeli life: Reda Mansour was the youngest ambassador in Israel's history, and is now Consul General at Israel's Atlanta Consulate; Walid Badir is an international soccer star on Israel's national team and captain of one of Tel Aviv's major teams; Rana Raslan is a former Miss Israel; Ishmael Khaldi was until recently the deputy consul of Israel in San Francisco; Khaled Abu Toameh is a major journalist with the Jerusalem Post; Ghaleb Majadele was until recently a Minister in the Israeli Government. They are all Israeli Arabs. Not one is a Jew. Arabs in Israel live freer lives than Arabs living anywhere in the Arab world. No Arab in any Arab country has the civil rights and personal liberty that Arabs in Israel enjoy.”
What about the Palestinians who live in the occupied territories who are not citizens of Israel? “They are governed by either the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) or by Hamas. The control Israel has over these people's lives is largely manifested when they want to enter Israel. Then they are subjected to long lines and strict searches, because Israel must weed out potential terrorists.
“Otherwise, Israel has little control over the day-to-day life of Palestinians and was prepared to have no control in 2000 when it agreed to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state to which it gave 97 percent of the land it had conquered in the 1967 War. The Palestinian response was to unleash an intifada of terror against Israeli civilians. And what about the security wall that divides Israel and the West Bank? Is that an example of apartheid?
“That this is even raised as an issue is remarkable. One might as well mention the security fence between the United States and Mexico as an example of apartheid. There is no difference between the American wall at its southern border and the Israeli wall on its eastern border. Both barriers have been built to keep unwanted people from entering the country.
“Israel built its security wall in order to keep terrorists from entering Israel and murdering its citizens. What appears to bother those who work to delegitimize Israel by calling it an apartheid state is that the barrier has worked. The wall separating Israel from the West Bank has probably been the most successful terrorism-prevention program ever enacted.
“So why, then, is Israel called an apartheid state? Because by comparing the freest, most equitable country in the Middle East to the former South Africa, those who seek to Israel's demise hope they can persuade uninformed people that Israel doesn't deserve to exist just as apartheid South Africa didn't deserve to exist.”
Much more can be said about Israel in contrast to its many antagonistic neighbours, and the bigotry of the UN. But since a picture is worth a whole lot more than mere words, this short video clip is well worth watching. Please have a look and listen:
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray