To the Editor:
I attended the nongovernmental-organization (NGO) section of the UN World Conference Against Racism and agree entirely with Arch Puddington’s analysis of its disgraceful proceedings [“The Wages of Durban,” November 2001]. South Africa, where the conference was held, has become a launching pad for a new phase of the propaganda assault on Israel. What better place than South Africa to try to stigmatize Israel as the last remaining apartheid state? The ruling party is sympathetic to these efforts, and there is a significant and militant local Muslim population.
I was hugely disturbed by the failure of Jewish groups to provide counterpropaganda materials at the conference. True heroism was displayed by a small band of South African Jewish students who felt, as one of them put it, that it been left to them alone “to represent the Jewish world.” The demonization displayed in Durban was hauntingly reminiscent of the 1930’s, and unfortunately the Jewish response has been largely the same: “it will all blow over,” “they don’t really mean it,” etc.
The scale and success of the propaganda operation at Durban should serve as a spur to prevent its replication in other parts of the world.
Johannesburg, South Africa