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Contentions

Durban Blues

Good news: Following up on Canada’s example, which I mentioned in a previous post, the United States has decided to boycott next year’s UN conference on human rights in Durban, South Africa, known as “Durban II.” This, according to Senator Norm Coleman (R – Minn.), who says the state department is calling off its participation, in response to a letter he and 26 other senators sent to Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice. In the letter, he senators cited the debacle of the previous Durban conference, which deteriorated into a festival of anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing; and the fact that the Durban II organizers include such humane governments as Libya and Iran. The conference, the let ter says, is “yet another example of a seemingly noble UN agenda item being hijacked by member states to spew anti-Semitism.” The senators are right; the U.S. has made the right decision.

Or has it? According to reports, a State Department spokesman, Karl Duckworth, says no such decision has been made. Tom Casey, also at State, says that because the conference is being held after the current administration finishes its term, the decision will be up to the next one. On the other hand, he told reporters that “I certainly don’t think that presently we view it as a particularly valuable activity.”

Perhaps it is considered polite for outgoing administrations not to saddle subsequent ones with their decisions. Yet the question of whether to prop up one of the ugliest forums of world anti-Semitism or to deal it a belated diplomatic death is not next year’s—it’s today’s.



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