Through a Glass, Darkly: Durban and September 11th
Cooper, Abraham, Brackman, Harold, Midstream
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.... The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all." -- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass (1872) When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews.... Anti-Zionism is inherently antisemitic. It is the denial to the Jewish people of the fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord to all other nations of the globe. -- Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967) The road -- ideologically, not practically speaking -- from Durban to Bergen-Belsen is shorter than many people think. -- Sever Plotzker, Yediot Ahronot, September 3, 2001
The terrible destruction of September 11 th came out of the sky but not out of the blue. The World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) -- concluding two days before in Durban, South Africa -- provided a preview of the worldview that terrorism's apologists want to impose on the Jewish people, the United States, and the international community. The WCAR had to be extended over the weekend so that face-saving "compromise" resolutions could be adopted papering over the Conference's virulently anti-Israel, anti-Western biases. Then, within 48 hours of its adjournment, this propaganda circus disappeared instantly from media consciousness when the first hijacked plane impacted the Word Trade Center on Tuesday morning.
Yet for those of us profoundly saddened by the WCAR's results, the gnawing sense remains of a disturbing symmetry between the travesty in Durban and the tragedy in New York and Washington.
As President George W. Bush explained in his speech before a Joint Session of Congress, the perpetrators of September 11th's terrorist carnage hijacked more than four airplanes; through their propaganda, they had hijacked one of the world's great religions, trying to convert mainstream Islam into a fanatic gospel of hate and violence.
There was also a hijacking at Durban. It was the truth about the Shoah. The pathological creed belittling or denying the Holocaust had spread from the ranks of hard-core Holocaust deniers to a majority of the UN's NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) from around the globe attending the Durban Conference. For so many participants in the international community to sink to this level within the lifetime of survivors was a sad day for humanity. Today, as we strive to improve our physical security against future terrorist attacks, we also need to act to reclaim the language and morality of internationalism, stolen by terrorism's fellow travelers at Durban.
Amidst the terrible carnage in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania September 11 th, the values of American patriotism and humanitarianism have reawakened. To defeat terrorism, the United States needs to do more than lead an international alliance of governments. It must forge a worldwide community of civilized people -- across lines of race, creed, and national boundaries -- united by the bonds of respect for the dignity of human life and a commitment to tolerance.
This account of high hopes and bitter disappointments at the Durban Conference is based heavily on the observations of participants representing the Simon Wiesenthal Center: Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director of International Liaison; Sergio Widder, Latin American representative; and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center. (1) The Wiesenthal Center is a Jewish NGO with consultative status at the United Nations.
For the third time in a quarter of a century, a UN Conference has failed almost totally to promote the fight against "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance" -- the ostensible purpose of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR).
The term "racism" was coined in 1936 to rally scientific and political opinion against Nazi doctrines of "Aryan superiority" over Jews and other alleged "untermenschen. …