Canada should say no to racism at the United Nations – iPolitics.ca

Posted By on February 19, 2021

By bringing together all nations democratic and non-democratic alike the United Nations provides opportunities for both: For states that respect human rights, the UN can provide a forum for promoting that respect, while for states that violate them, the UN becomes a forum in which to defend, divert, and obfuscate.

One diversion tactic the latter use is to point human-rights standards elsewhere. They might use the vocabulary of human rights, but these words mean what they want them to mean.

The 2001 World Conference against Racism is a prime example. By singling out Israel, the concluding document was itself racist. It called the Jews of Israel foreigners, even though Jews have lived continuously in Israel since prehistoric times.

The document further referred to their presence in the region as colonial occupation, even though colonization of the area had ended with the termination of the British mandate in 1948. The document blamed the plight of the Palestinians on Israel alone, as if all the terrorist organizations targeting the Jews of Israel, not least the Palestinian governing authority, had nothing to do with it.

While the strategies employed by rights-violating states at the UN to smother criticism are various, a notable component is an inordinate focus on Israel. Israel is small and geopolitically insignificant. A raft of states in the Arab and Muslim world are opposed to its very existence. Non-democratic states who are neither Arab nor Muslim, but who want to make sure the UN busies itself with anyone but them, are quick to join Arab/Muslim states in elaborate, prolonged, exaggerated criticism of Israel.

Zionism stands for the existence of Israel as the realization of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people. Anti-Zionism stands opposed. There is a confluence of agendas of the anti-Zionists states and the other non-democratic states. Anti-Zionists, having failed in their attempts to destroy Israel through force in 1948, 1967, and 1973 have switched to terrorism and delegitimization through demonization. A primary vehicle for this delegitimization strategy is the United Nations.

Jews are the prototypical victims of racism. They are a people whose victimization has been so awful, it gave racism itself, before the Holocaust a widely accepted ideology, a bad name. Yet, they themselves are labelled by anti-Zionists (in a typically tyrannical vocabulary inversion) as racist. Non-democratic states that repress their minorities and who truly are racist are more than happy to jump on this anti-Zionist bandwagon barrelling toward Israel and away from them.

We can be thankful that Canada and several other states walked out of the Durban Conference. But the anti-democratic/anti-Zionist coalition at the UN never misses a trick. It embraced a Durban Review Conference in Geneva in 2009, and a 10th-anniversary event in New York in 2011. Canada boycotted both, as did other rights-respecting states.

At the end of last year, the UN General Assembly decided by resolution that in September 2021 it will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration. Canada voted against this resolution, as did several other rights-respecting states. The anniversary celebration this fall is expected to call for the full implementation of the declaration.

Feb. 22 is the first day of the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. On opening day, a high-level panel is scheduled to discuss the upcoming 20th anniversary. Canada should there express again its concerns about the Durban document and make clear its intention not to attend the celebration.

Canada, despite all the obfuscation of the cabal of anti-Zionist and other non-democratic states, should work through the United Nations to combat real racism. One component must be standing continuously against the Durban perversion of the anti-racist agenda to serve racist ends, with Jews yet again the intended victims.

The fight against racism is too important to ignore. Through their resurrection of the Durban Document and their pretend accusation as racist of a people devastated by racism, truly racist states attempt to avoid the criticism they so justly deserve. Canada at the United Nations should continue to say no to racism, real racism, and no also to this 20th anniversary.

Sarah Teich is a senior fellow with the Macdonald Laurier Institute. David Matas is senior honorary counsel to Bnai Brith Canada. He was rapporteur for the Jewish Caucus at the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the authors alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.

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