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June 21, 2021 4:57 pm

Jewish Groups Applaud UK’s Boycott of Durban Anniversary Event Over ‘Historic Concerns’ on Antisemitism

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room of the Palace of Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. The room is the meeting place of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Photo: Ludovic Courtès via Wikimedia Commons

Leading Jewish groups welcomed the United Kingdom’s decision to join the US, Australia and Canada in staying away from the Durban IV conference to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the its declaration in September this year.

“Following historic concerns regarding antisemitism, the UK has decided not to attend the United Nation’s Durban Conference anniversary event, later this year,” a spokesperson at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement Monday.

The UN is scheduled to hold a special Durban IV event on Sept. 22 to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel withdrew over objections of anti-Zionism. Israel was singled out in the Durban conference declaration and was depicted as being racist and as committing “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide” against the Palestinians.

Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl praised the UK government’s move to boycott the Durban event describing the conference as a “commemoration of a supposedly anti-racism conference which itself was antisemitic. We will always support the fight against racism, but this must include opposing antisemitism in all its forms.”

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Commenting on Monday’s announcement Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust and Vice President of the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council, as well as an attendee at the 2001 conference said: “This is welcome news. Tainted with Jew hatred, poisonous rhetoric about Israel and Holocaust denial and minimization, the Durban process is no place to tackle racism. It is time for the Durban conferences to be consigned to history.”

“The British government has done the right thing once again by taking a principled stance and refusing to attend,” Pollock added.

In May, a US State Department spokesperson said that the Biden administration would not take part in planned Durban anniversary events, citing the Durban process’ “anti-Israel sentiment” and its use as a “forum for antisemitism.”

The Anti-Defamation League also cheered the UK’s decision Monday, calling the antisemitism exhibited at the 2001 Durban conference “unforgivable and unforgettable.”

“We call on all countries to follow suit and refuse to attend this event marking the 20th anniversary of the notorious 2001 hate fest,” commented the American Jewish Committee.

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