. Obama says US will help plan anti-racism Conference despite Israeli pressure
by Saed Bannoura –
IMEMC News Sunday February 15, 2009 14:35
Although US President Barack Obama received pressure from U.S. Zionists to boycott a United Nations Conference against racism, his spokesman said late Saturday that the US would help plan the conference.
Israeli officials have opposed the anti-racism conference when it was held in the past, because Israeli policies that discriminate based on race were addressed in the conference. The 2001 World Conference Against Racism was held in Durban, South Africa, and was boycotted by both Israel and the US because Israeli policies were discussed at the conference.
the US history of racism. His administration is moving forward with plans to assist the United Nations in planning the next World Conference Against Racism, which is likely to be held in South Africa again.
In South Africa, many anti-apartheid activists have looked at parallels between the race-based system of apartheid that was imposed by white colonists on the indigenous African population, and the Israeli law system that differentiates people by race and ethnicity, and maintains different penal systems and rights based on that differentiation.
But while the agenda and focus for the next World Conference on Racism has not yet been set, and it is unknown whether Israeli policies will be among those addressed, Israeli officials have already announced that they plan to boycott the conference, and have tried to get the U.S. to boycott it as well. An unnamed Israeli diplomat told the Israeli daily Ha'aretz that US participation in the conference “will pull the rug from under us and will lead to the participation of many more countries in the conference.”
Barack Obama, as the first black President of the US, has not made his race a focus for his campaign or administration. But he has made it clear that he is opposed to racism, and acknowledges the US history of racism. His administration is moving forward with plans to assist the United Nations in planning the next World Conference Against Racism, which is likely to be held in South Africa again.
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