Canada will boycott a UN conference on racism in New York City next September because it promises to be nothing more than a “hatefest,” largely targeting Israel, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.
National Post– He told a news conference on Thursday that Canada will have nothing to do with the planning of the 2011 conference, nor will the government help finance Canadian NGOs to attend the meeting.
“Canada will not participate in this charade any longer. We will not lend our country’s good name to a commemoration of what has widely been characterized — indeed across party lines here — as a hatefest,” Mr. Kenney (Photo at left) said.
This week the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to host a one-day anti-racism conference, known as Durban III, that commemorates the 10th anniversary of its World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa. The 2001 conference and an accompanying NGO conference degenerated into an anti-Israel protest, with groups distributing handouts praising Adolf Hitler and featuring caricatures reviving ancient stereotypes of hook-nosed Jews thirsting for gentile blood.
Canada has lost faith in a “tainted” UN process that was supposed to combat racism — but not in the United Nations as an institution, Mr. Kenney said.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff threw his support behind the government’s decision, calling the first Durban conference “a festival of racism against Israel and the Jewish people that Canada was right to condemn.” “Sadly, while a decade has passed, the Durban conferences remain a staging ground for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements,” Mr. Ignatieff said in a statement. “Canada should absolutely not participate in the Durban III conference or countenance in any way these hateful views.”
Arab-and Muslim-led verbal attacks on Israel led the United States and Israel to walk out of the original conference in protest. Canada initially stayed but a senior official told the conference it did so only to protest attempts to “de-legitimize the State of Israel and dishonour the history and suffering of the Jewish people.”
The Canadian delegation eventually walked out to protest what Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, the federal justice minister at the time, characterized as a “festival of hate” directed at Israel.
The Harper government is the first to announce a boycott of the September conference, just as it was the first to pull out of the second Durban conference in Geneva in 2009, fearing anti-Semitic overtones.
Mr. Kenney said those fears were realized when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the conference to launch an anti-Israel attack, prompting a group of European delegates to stage a temporary walkout. The United States, Australia, Israel and the United Kingdom followed Canada’s lead in 2009 and joined the boycott before the conference opened.
Mr. Kenney said he hopes other countries will again follow Canada’s lead and recognize that the Durban process has become a “dangerous” platform for racism and anti-Semitism. H/T Jane