Obama Boycotts Anti-Racism Conference

21 Apr 2009

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The Real News Network provides this clip in which President Barack Obama defends America's decision not to attend the United Nation's (UN) Racism Conference. Billed as the Durban Review Conference, the conference hosted by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, opened in Geneva today.

Obama's statement, transcribed below, is somewhat vague in its justifications. However, the one thing that does come out clearly in the subtext of his statement is his administration's unquestioning loyalty for Israel.

BARACK OBAMA: "Here's the problem. You had a previous conference, I believe it was in 2001, maybe it was 2002. I think it was 2001, in which it became a session through which folks expressed antagonism towards Israel in ways that were often times completely hypocritical and counterproductive. And we expressed, in the run up this conference, our concerns that if incorporated, if you adopted all the language from 2001, that's just not something we could sign up for."

"So if we have a clean start, a fresh start, we're happy to go. If you're incorporating a previous conference that we weren't involved with that raised a whole set of objectionable provisions then we couldn't participate or it wouldn't be worth it for us to participate because we couldn't get past that particular issue."

The Real News Network got a response to the Obama statement from UN spokesperson, Rupert Colvin.

RUPERT COLVIN: "We deeply regret these decisions. There was basically very broad agreement amongst states, only last Friday that the text that's been sent to the conference for approval was an acceptable text. So we're very surprised and rather shocked by these withdrawals."

"I'm not sure, I'm not sure which ones have been announced so far, but certainly a handful of countries look like they have withdrawn today.  The United States, definitely as we know. Canada and Israel withdrew a long time ago. I understand Germany has withdrawn as well. But, its very surprising. I mean the issues that they were  worried about had all been resolved effectively. They were worried about Israel being singled out. It is not singled out in this document at all. There's a very clear statement that the Holocaust must never be forgotten. There's a very clear statement that anti-semetism should be condemned along with other forms of racism. So the red lines that the Western countries drew, have basically been resolved. So we don't really understand why they should take this position."

"There are another 185 member states of the United Nations who as far as we know are still in this conference. Racism is an issue that affects every country everywhere, millions of people, many different groups. Its very unfortunate that one or two issues appear to have completely dominated the agenda, at least from the perspective of certain countries."

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading "Where’s Rev. Wright When You Need Him?" and "What Credibility is there in Geneva's All-White Boycott?"

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/127.19.

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