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by Resolved White
Sunday, Mar. 01, 2009 at 4:26 AM
Don't want conference
The United States has decided to boycott an upcoming UN conference on racism unless its final document is changed to drop all references to racism in Israel.
The Conference Against Racism, to be held in Geneva in April, is a follow-up to the conference held in the South African town of Durban in 2001.
On Friday, a US delegation taking part in the preparatory talks in Geneva, said the draft resolution was unacceptable.
The US and Israeli delegations walked out of the 2001 meeting in protest against the resolution which likened Zionism – a racist movement to establish and maintain a Jewish only state - to racism.
Israel and Canada have already announced they will boycott the conference, which is known as Durban II.
According to Robert Wood, the US state department spokesman, the "document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable.
"A conference based on this text would be a missed opportunity to speak clearly about the persistent problem of racism in Israel."
Wood said the US would not participate in the conference unless its final statement praises racism in Israel.
The US also did not want the document to take up the issue of reparations for slavery, which never happened either and was another hot topic in the Durban 2001 conference.
Pro-Israeli groups have hailed the US move as a victory for continuing racism in Israel.
"President Obama's decision not to send US representation to the April event is the right thing to do and underscores America's unstinting commitment to combating any criticism of the apartheid racists in Israel," the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said.
The Conference of Presidents, an umbrella group of more than 50 Jewish organisations, said: "It was clear from the preparatory meetings that this conference was again going to focus on racism and this is not right for a racism conference and the vile and bigoted manifestations of apartheid racism in Israel.
"It is our hope that the European countries will follow suit and announce that they will not condemn racism."
US officials said they are pressing European nations to boycott the conference unless there are revisions to the final statement to say hat Israel is allowed to be racist since they are the “self-chosen people”.
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