There were a number of factors that led to the important difference between the two Durban conferences. These include the decisions by major NGO funders such as the Ford Foundation and the Canadian government not to provide support for the large-scale demonization of Israel, as occurred in 2001. NGO Monitor’s reports on this and related issues also influenced UN officials, preventing radical NGOs from again exploiting this framework for singling out Israel and antisemitic attacks.
According to Ittijah, a coalition of Israeli-Arab NGOs, “The Zionist NGO Monitor has issued several detailed reports about the activities of the international and Palestinian organizations that are supporting joint Palestinian rights in the conference, and this is in the framwork of the efforts to blackmail the secretariat of the conference preventing the existence of those organizations and their several side events in the conference” (translated from the original Arabic). Similarly, the Muzzlewatch blog accused NGO Monitor and others of impeding the “struggle against racism”: “The UN Watch/NGO Monitor right wing Israel lobby types seem to really want to destroy the UN, and at this conference they generally don’t mind taking everyone else down with it.”
The only side event with a clear goal of demonizing Israel was a sparsely-attended meeting organized by Libya-linked Nord-Sud XXI, “on language concerning ‘occupation’ in the outcome document of the DRC.” One panelist, Curtis Doebbler, labeled “Palestinian suffering” as “apartheid.” The keynote speaker, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, promoted a “one-state solution.” In previous UN forums, Nord-Sud XXI accused Israel of “genocide,” “apartheid” and “atrocities.”
Additionally, two events ostensibly on “Islamophobia” and discrimination against Muslims after 9/11 provided platforms for anti-Israel presentations and comments. In one, Michael Warschawski of the Alternative Information Center (AIC – funded by Diakonia, Christian Aid, and Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, which is funded in turn by the European Commission) reportedly espoused “conspiracy theories about a group of white Europeans seeking world domination…asserted that the purpose of Israel’s security barrier is actually to ‘re-colonize Palestine and the Arab World,’” and referred to the Israeli Prime Minister as a “fascist.” In another NGO meeting chaired by Charles Graves of Interfaith International, an anti-Israel activist who denies the antisemitism of the 2001 NGO Forum, the Q&A session featured a moment of silence in memory of the “victims of the massacre in Gaza”; Graves told a reporter that he did not “condone the call” and only stood to “figure out what was going on.” However, an Israeli student claimed that Graves mocked her for challenging him and encouraged an anti-Israel atmosphere.