The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) has today welcomed the decision by the UK government that they join the USA, Australia and Canada in not attending the Durban IV conference this September.
In December 2020, the UN General Assembly voted in favour of holding a “one-day high-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the twentieth anniversary” of the adoption of the Durban Declaration. This is due to take place this September.
The United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, or otherwise commonly known as ‘Durban I’ met in Durban, South Africa in 2001 and adopted the Durban Declaration.
Despite being a conference against racism, the event is remembered by the international Jewish community as a hostile showcase for open antisemitism. Jewish attendees at the conference were subjected to intimidation from protesters and antisemitic material, including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were distributed within the conference venue. The conference itself saw the revival of the ‘Zionism equals racism’ trope. The resulting ‘Durban Declaration’ singled out only Israel for criticism.
Subsequent Durban conferences in 2009 and 2011 resulted in similar antisemitic rhetoric on display. At Durban II in 2009 the UK led a walkout of major nations in protest against a speech by then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and at Durban III in 2011 the UK boycotted the event.
JLC Co-Chief Executive Claudia Mendoza added:
“We’d like to thank the British Government for taking our concerns seriously and withdrawing from this abuse of UN processes. People need to be under no illusions, this conference exists to delegitimise Israel and legitimise anti-Jewish racism.”
Commenting on today’s announcement Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust and Vice President of the JLC, and attendee at 2001 conference said:
“This is welcome news. Tainted with Jew hatred, poisonous rhetoric about Israel and Holocaust denial and minimisation, the Durban process is no place to tackle racism. It is time for the Durban conferences to be consigned to history.
The British Government has done the right thing once again by taking a principled stance and refusing to attend.”