The World Zionist Organization Background Document: The World Conference Against Racism
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Author: Yehuda Weinraub

The World Zionist Organization Background Document:
The World Conference Against Racism

U.N. member states and representatives of Non Governmental Organizations will convene in Durban, South Africa, from August 31st to September 8th, for the Third U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), under the aegis of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Mary Robinson. The first two conferences took place in 1978 and 1983. 

The WCAR will be preceded by a Student Summit (August 26), an NGO Conference (August 29 and 30th) and the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) will convene parallel to the WCAR (on September 2nd). Some 12,000 delegates are expected to attend. The WCAR will produce two documents: a declaration and a plan of Action.

The call for the WCAR came in 1997 when the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of such a conference. Four regional Preparatory Conferences (Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa) met in order to draft resolutions for the WCAR and NGO conferences. Inasmuch there were unresolved differences regarding the wording of many draft resolutions (many dealing with Israel, Zionism, and antisemitism), a Second Preparatory Conference, which met from May17th to June 1st , which could not resolve these differences, entrusted a committee of 21 regional representatives (five from each of the four regions, with Europe now split into Eastern and Western), the "Third Preparatory Conference", to revise the draft resolutions in the aim of arriving at an agreed-upon text. The Third Preparatory Conference has convened in Geneva on July 31st and will continue to hold meetings till August 10th . Israel has not participated in Preparatory Conferences. In the Third Preparatory Conference two working groups dealt with the redaction of a "Declaration" and a "Plan of Action" . All issues dealing with antisemitism, Zionism and Israel were sent to an informal governmental working group for more detailed discussion. Israel did participate an the informal governmental working group. Unfortunately the difficulties were not resolved in Geneva, and the original wording of the governmental documents will be carried over to the WCAR in Durban. Parallel to the preparatory conference for the governmental organizations a NGOs held a preparatory discussions for the ucoming NGO conference. Here attending Jewish NGOs report that while was some progress made(in that a paragraph on antisemitism was introduced), there still remain many difficult problems to overcome (especially in regards to condemnation of Israel's racist practices in its treatment of Palestinians). The Government of Israel, the Jewish Agency and many Jewish NGOs from Israel and abroad will attend the Durban conference.


The Danger to Israel

The danger to Israel posed by the WCAR is that many of the draft resolutions contain clauses which

  •  Condemn Israel and Zionism for racist practices, crimes against humanity
  •  Trivialize the Holocaust as a unique occurrence (by using it in the plural and with lower case)
  •  Debase the meaning of anti-Semitism (by either not referring to it, or by adding to it 'Zionist practices against Semitic peoples')
  •  Condemn Israel's policy in the Territories

While many manifestations of prejudice, discrimination, and social injustice are mentioned generically in the draft documents (racism, transatlantic slavery, discrimination against women, migrants, even against carriers of HIV), Israel is practically the only country singled out for censure, and special sections are devoted to the "suffering of the Palestinians."


These resolutions (though, so far, not specifically stating that Zionism equals Racism) recall the specter of the 1975 General Assembly "Zionism equals Racism" resolution, which was finally repealed in 1991, and which caused great damage to Israel.

Moreover, no mention is made of Palestinian and Arab human rights violations, the exploitation of women, children, terrorism, the liquidation of minorities, etc. that are rampant in Arab countries

Should the contestable language of these resolutions be adopted by the WCAR, the result would be adelegitimization of Israel, and a major setback for the Jewish People.

What can you do?

As an emissary you are in a unique position to inform and influence the leadership of the Jewish communities with whom you maintain contacts as to the dangers which the proposed wording pose to the Jewish People, Israel and to Democracy itself. Through their intermediary they can exert influence on decision-makers and leading figures of local and national government to ensure that their delegates to the Conference will vote against anti-Israel, anti-Zionist wording in the resolutions or wording which would debase the meaning of the Holocaust. Try to get op-eds and advertisements condemning the subversion of the conference for anti-Israel and anti-Zionist objectives inserted in local and Jewish media, and give media statements and appearances and lectures to Jewish and non-Jewish groups.


Talking Points

The U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance represents an historic opportunity for Peoples of the World at the dawn of the Twenty-First Century to speak out against Racism, the scourge of past century and set new standards for equality of peoples during the new millennium.

Unfortunately the noble goals of the conference and the chances that it may have of making a giant step for humanity are being shattered by forces in who are diverting the aims of the conference, so as to condemn and delegitimize Israel, Zionism and the Jewish People by denying their right to national existence and hence "existence", and by debasing the uniqueness of the Holocaust. The Third Preparatory Conference, which was to resolve such controversial issues before the WCAR, concluded its deliberations last Friday, having failed to expurgate the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist wording from draft Governmental documents to be submitted to the WCAR. On the pragmatic level, proponents of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist resolutions, are not only rendering the entire conference ineffective, but are, themselves, resurrecting the heinous tactics of Nazi racists. These practices moreover contravene the Conference's guidelines of not being country specific.

References to supposed "ethnic cleansing of Arab populations of historic Palestine," "racial discrimination of Palestinians", and "racist practices of Zionism" as well as references to settlements as "crimes against humanity", in the draft resolutions, are not only untrue, but are lame attempts portray Israel as Nazi Germany, in a first step towards the deligitimization and eventual destruction of Israel. The anti-Zionism references in the documents of the NGO and Governmental draft resolutions are in essence themselves manifestations of antisemitism, which, moreover, is rendered meaningless by its omission, or by its modification by phrases such as "Zionist practices against Semitic peoples." Even the term Holocaust, the unique tragedy, which befell the Jewish People, is diluted and made commonplace by referring to it in the plural and in lower case ("holocausts").

The fact that many of these draft resolutions were generated and supported by countries that have little care for liberty and equality and human rights indicates that their true motivation is to use the forum of the WCAR as a means of attacking Israel, even at the expense of sacrificing the conference itself. And perhaps this is their hidden agenda since it is easier to engage in Israel and Jew-bashing than to come to grips with their own violations of human rights and dignity. Some of the world's most racist and xenophobic regimes have been those of Arab dictatorships, which have suppressed, liquidated and exiled religious and ethnic minorities, denied human rights, and freedom of expression, and lack democratic practices and transparency of government[The Palestinian's, in particular, have broken cease-fires, have denied basic liberties, engaged in terror, specifically targeting women, children, andnon-combatants, and have not hesitated to use children as cannon fodder and have subverted the education system to indoctrinate for murder and hatred]; Arab nationalism is guilty of racism in that it does not accept the legitimacy of non-Arab national movements in the Middle EastYet these regimes dare to accuse Israel of crimes, which they themselves are guilty.


In sharp contrast, the Jewish people have been the messengers of freedom, and democracy, respect for others, respect for the rights of 'strangers dwelling within their midst", and the genitors of the principle of equality before the law. Judaism and the Jewish People stand as the antithesis of Racism and related prejudices. Israel today is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is, of course open to criticism; but only from democracies. Countries which are anti-democratic, have neither the moral right or standard to criticize the faults of Israel. They would do well to direct their criticism against their own repressive regimes.

Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish People. The return of the People of Israel to their ancestral homeland, the center of Jewish life and prayers and spirituality for over 3,000 years, is the meaning of Zionism. Zionism is thus synonymous with Israel and the Jewish People. Anti-Zionism is but another term for antisemitism or anti-Judaism, as the legendary Rev. Martin Luther King proclaimed.

Zionism is a movement based on affinity of nation, faith, culture and identity -- not on race or originZionism proclaims that Israel is based on the social values of equality of all citizens regardless of religion, race and sex. Today, of the over six million citizens of Israel, over one million four hundred thousand are Arab Moslems and Christians. Other religious and ethnic minorities represented in Israel include Druze, Moslem Circassians, 51 Christian denominations, and Bahais. Jews from 100 countries, and of every color, live in Israel. Through naturalization, non-Jews may become Israeli citizens. By contrast in many Arab countries non-Moslems cannot receive citizenship. To refer to Zionism as a form of Racism or racial discrimination is thus a contradiction in terms

Though Israel accepted the Palestinians' right to self-determination in 1947-1948 and again at Oslo, most of the Arab world has never accepted Israel's right to exist or the Jewish People's right to a homeland. This basic right of self-determination was denied by the leaders of Arab countries who chose to invade Israel and attempted to destroy it. The annals of the UN from 1947 to 1949 are replete with condemnations of Arab invaders. Their efforts only brought tragedy to their own people. Those in the WCAR, who by their adoption of the resolutions would deny the Jewish People their right to self determination, are denying the Jewish people the rights they are seeking for the developing countries, and by so doing are, themselves employing the same Nazi racial tactics, which they are supposedly condemning.

The Jewish People's Divine right to the Land of Israel resounds throughout the Holy Bible and is explicitly mentioned in the Holy Quran itself (v. Suras V:20, VI:137, XVII:104). Denying the Jewish People's right to existence in Israel contravenes the moral and theological basis of Christianity and Islam.

The Conference should not allow itself to be diverted from its objectives by becoming enmeshed into the Israel Arab conflict, which is foreign to the conference goals. The political Arab-Israeli conflict must not be confused with the issue of racism. This conflict should be resolved by negotiations of the concerned parties but not in the forum of the conference. The insinuation that Zionism is related to Racism is not only an attack against Israel, the Jewish People and Democracy, but it would deprive the word racism or racist practices of meaning and since such false statements will render it impossible to censor true manifestations of such crimes.

The Holocaust (the systematic, mass destruction of six million members of the Jewish People) was a unique occurrence in the history of mankind and is specific to the history of the Jewish People. We must condemn vociferously all genocide, manifestations of racism, and discrimination, using terms that that are context-specific to tragedies, which befell other peoples. But the uniqueness of the Holocaust must not be relativized, or diluted from its specific meaning. It must serve as a unique warning light for humanity.

We sincerely hope that the delegates to the WCAR, which will convene in Durban, South Africa at the end of this month, will have the wisdom to rectify the malicious and false language contained in many of the draft resolutions, and thereby enable the conference to proceed forward and make a significant contribution towards eliminating the scourge of Racism and racial discrimination on the dawn of the third millennium.


Points for Attacking Arab and Palestinian advocates of the Anti-Israel, Anti-Zionist Resolutions

  • Palestinians are the aggressors. We offered them the moon (almost all the territory and a cease-fire and they wanted the sun. They attacked us
  •  Terrorism. Their attacks are targeted against innocent civilians (vs. Israel's efforts to hit military targets). Suicide bombers; Terrorist gunners fire from within the midst of civilian areas to draw fire
  •  The PA is committing crimes against history –They are destroying the cultural heritage of the Jewish People (destroying archeological evidence of Jewish presence, defiling the Temple Mount)
  •  Arab countries racist, xenophobic regimes. They have oppressed, liquidated and exiled Jews and Minorities (Christians, Kurds, Syria's liquidation of El-Hama)
  •  They are feudal theocracies (Iran, Saudi Arabia) or fascist dictatorships (the PA)
  •  They maintain racist policies and espouse racial superiority ( at best Christians and Jews are accepted as second-class citizens)
  •  They are corrupt, have no democratic processes or transparency (Arafat and his top aides have billions of dollars in private bank accounts, at their people's expense. Because of corruption investments and aid have dwindled.
  •  There is no freedom of the press (the press is a mouthpiece of dictatorships, there re threats to journalists, and hence self –censorships, v. State Dept. and Freedom House reports)
  •  Lack of religious freedom or tolerance in Arab countries and the PA (entire Jewish families cannot leave Iran so as to maintain some members as hostages, the PA has replaced most Christian clergymen, except Greek Orthodox with Palestinian so to control the Church.).
  •  Ethnic cleansing: The PA has changed the ethnic character of Bethlehem to Moslem; expulsion of Jews from Moslem lands and confiscation of property; expulsion of Kwaitis by Iraq
  •  Blatant anti-Semitism in policies,press, religious sermons, political discourse, educational system)
  •  Exploitation of women (veil, limitations on freedom to drive in amany Arab countries, financial rights limited)
  •  Exploitation of children (inciting them to violence,, using them as cannon fodder, military training and indoctrination in kindergarten, Fatah and Hamas summer camps, Hamas indoctrination for becomingshaheedeen begins in Kindergrten)
  •  Educaton system turned into propaganda and hatred factory.
  •  The PA, Islamic Jihad and Hamas are all inter-related .
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