Macshane to Hague: ‘Pull out of Dur­ban’

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY MARTIN BRIGHT

A FOR­MER UK for­eign min­is­ter has writ­ten an open letter to For­eign Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Hague call­ing on the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to pull out of next month’s con­fer­ence to mark the tenth an­niver­sary of the Dur­ban dec­la­ra­tion on anti-racism. This doc­u­ment sin­gled out Is­rael as the only per­pe­tra­tor of hu­man rights abuses.

De­nis MacShane, who at­tended the orig­i­nal con­fer­ence in South Africa, said the con­fer­ence and its fol­low-up in Geneva in 2009 “pro­vided a plat­form for the most egre­gious ex­pres­sion of Jew-ha­tred seen on the in­ter­na­tional stage so far this cen­tury”.

The World Con­fer­ence Against Rac- ism, Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion, Xeno­pho­bia and Re­lated In­tol­er­ance will take place just as the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly con­sid­ers a pos­si­ble uni­lat­eral dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence (UDI) by the Pales­tini­ans.

Dr MacShane, who was a For­eign Of­fice min­is­ter from 2001 to 2005 un­der Jack Straw, said: “With hind­sight I wish that Straw and his min­is­te­rial team, in­clud­ing my­self, had had the guts to pull the UK out of the Dur­ban 1 con­fer­ence, and send a clear sig­nal.”

Dr MacShane also at­tended the Geneva con­fer­ence two years ago when Iran’s Pres­i­dent Ah­madine­jad stated that the Holo­caust was “an am­bigu­ous and du­bi­ous ques­tion”.

Sev­eral coun­tries, in­clud­ing Is­rael, Amer­ica, Canada, Italy, the Nether­lands and the Czech Repub­lic have al­ready pulled out of Dur­ban III. The UK has so far de­cided to re­main within the draft­ing process of a new an­niver­sary dec­la­ra­tion. The Jewish Hu­man Rights Coali­tion has called on Bri­tain to pull out.

There is concern in pro-Is­rael cir­cles that a new state­ment from the anti-racism con­fer­ence tar­get­ing Is­rael would pro­vide am­mu­ni­tion to those press­ing for Pales­tinian UDI.

At the same time, UK Jewish lead­ers are keen not to let Dur­ban III be­come a dis­trac­tion from the Septem­ber vote in the Gen­eral Assem­bly. “We don’t want the gov­ern­ment to do the right thing on Dur­ban III and not on UDI,” said one se­nior source.

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