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Cosatu condemnsUSstance on the durban ii conference

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COSATU condemns US stance on the Durban II Conference

 The Congress of South African Trade Unions is shocked at the news of the US administration’s withdrawal from the important Durban 2 Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, in Geneva, Switzerland, from 20-24 April, 2009.


This has happened despite very serious compromises being made to the original draft conference outcome text to accommodate the US and their demand to remove anything that refers to Israel’s persecution of Arabs as racism.

The text waffles around the profound issues of racism and avoids saying anything that may be seen to offend Israel, who occupy other people’s land, subject them to racist and discriminatory practices and still demands to be called a democratic, civilised state.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, welcomed this revised version, despite serious concerns by civil society that it has compromised victims of racism merely to please the US, Israel and their lackeys.

The previous version of the text led the United States, Canada and Italy announcing they would be boycotting the conference. Other EU countries, Australia and New Zealand, also threatened to boycott. These countries have been subtle sympathisers of Israel and its apartheid policies in the Middle East, whereas the US openly supports Israel apartheid rule.

In the same way that in Durban 1, held in South Africa in 2001, Israel and the US held the whole world to ransom, we are being subjected to the same blackmail by those who have openly practiced or supported racism in different parts of the world, but still demand to be regarded as champions of the struggle against racism.

The United States and Israel walked out of the Durban meeting before it ended, over a draft resolution that identified Zionism as a particular version of apartheid and therefore racist, while European and other countries stayed and ensured its final declaration dropped criticism of Israel.

Israel and American Jewish groups, led by the Republican Jewish Coalition, have urged the United States not to take part in the conference. They have called the process that took place in Durban ‘flawed’, and tried to ridicule and undermine the important decisions that were taken at that important conference. Now they have bullied President Obama to denounce the Conference and withdraw US participation in solidarity with Israel.

According to a US official, “The first clause in the new document reaffirms the declaration of Durban 1, which calls Israel a racist state, and the change is cosmetic only. The essence remains the same. This is a diplomatic ruse intended to blur matters and introduce criticism of Israel by the back door."

It is extremely disappointing that we still have our global institutions held hostage by those who refuse to acknowledge apartheid and seek to legitimise racist occupation of other people’s lands. They use the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ to silence those who oppose apartheid Israel’s savage policies and to stifle global debate about racism.

Many governments and people are intimidated into perpetual silence by a powerful Zionist lobby all over the world, flushing out money and threatening all who dare stand up to Israel’s arrogance and institutionalised racist rule in the occupied Palestinian territories.

We call on all trade unions, progressive organisations, faith-based organisations and NGOs, and all progressive governments to stand up and defend the integrity of the UN, particularly the coming Conference. The credibility of such institutions is at stake unless it addresses the real issues affecting humanity and victims of racism, occupation and injustice all over the world.

This battle is not an isolated instance, but an integral part of the attempt to hijack the UN system for their own narrow interests, the struggle in transforming the UN Human Rights Commission into a Human Rights Council also reflected the depth of these powerful vested interests and their agendas.

Finally, COSATU is vindicated that whilst welcoming the election of the first Black President in the US, being Barack Obama, we warned that it would not lead to fundamental policy changes in the US, because the empire is bigger than personalities. However, good his intentions, he cannot change certain fundamentals of the imperialist policies. The recent case of his refusal to remove the embargo against Cuba and free the Cuban five, illustrates just that point.