In early September 2001, the great and the good of the world’s human rights community gathered in Durban, South Africa for a conference called to eliminate racism and discrimination. They met just a few days after an inhuman atrocity in Jerusalem which killed and maimed Israelis in a pizzeria filled with teenagers and young families. But the Durban participants made no mention of Palestinian bombings or of the victims; for the self-proclaimed leaders of international morality, Israelis do not have human rights. Instead, participants from the UN and powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused on demonizing Israel and Zionism.
Durban was the blueprint for the 21st century antisemitism. Caricatures of Jews with fangs dripping blood were distributed by the Arab Lawyers Union, and delegates picked up copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery. Hate literature and speeches denouncing Israeli “apartheid” were accompanied by well-organized mass marches through the streets, with placards declaring “Zionism is racism.”
The late Tom Lantos, a member of Congress from California, Holocaust survivor, and part of the US delegation referred to Durban as “the most sickening display of hate for Jews I have seen since the Nazi period.” Prof Irwin Colter, from the Canadian delegation, later declared, “If 9/11 was the Kristallnacht of terror, then Durban was the Mein Kampf.” Adding to the virulent atmosphere, Yasir Arafat and Palestinian propagandist Hanan Ashwari were flown in to denounce Israeli “apartheid.”
To their credit, the official American and Israeli delegations walked out of the diplomatic forum, and the Europeans, Canada and others negotiated a softer version of the final text.