In the days preceding the Durban Review Conference (April 20-24 in Geneva), two scheduled NGO events in Geneva will repeat the virulent anti-Israel agenda that marked the NGO Forum in 2001. As opposed to the 2001 Forum, both events lack official UN support and far fewer participants are expected, demonstrating the impact of NGO Monitor’s reports to funders. Still, the main goals of demonization, distortions, and media coverage remain the same.

The “Israel Review Conference,” organized by the Palestinian BDS Movement and claiming to represent Palestinian civil society, is scheduled to take place on April 18-19 under the slogan “United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation, Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People.” The conference will facilitate and bolster the “Durban Strategy” – formulated at the NGO Forum in 2001 – of isolating and delegitimizing Israel internationally through boycotts and “war crimes” trials. NGO participants and coordinators include Badil (funded by, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Trocaire), Al-Haq (Ford Foundation, Christian Aid, the Netherlands, Irish Aid, Norway, and Diakonia), Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Habitat International, and Ittijah (an Israeli-Arab coalition that includes the NIF-funded Adalah, the Arab Association for Human Rights, and others).

Organizers of a related event, the “Civil Society Forum” (April 17-19) have been presenting themselves as the representatives of all NGOs. In reality, however, they represent a small group of marginal NGOs, including Nord-Sud XXI, a Libyan-linked group that has issued statements accusing Israel of “genocide,” “apartheid” and “atrocities.” The president of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO), Liberato C. Bautista, has called for participation in the Civil Society Forum, but this is an individual endorsement ignoring the decision of the organization not to participate or support it. The Civil Society Forum is hosting a working group on the “Plight of the Palestinian People and fragmentation of their rights,” the only nation-specific topic to be discussed. Other topics include “Intensified forms of discrimination after 9/11, in particular ethnic and religious profiling.”

Additionally, the Civil Society Forum is advertising a “large public demonstration with activists” to be held on April 18, 2009; the Israel Review Conference organizers are also promoting the demonstration. Based on the 2001 Durban precedent, this event is likely to be inflammatory, include offensive antisemitic slogans, and possibly violent.

See NGO Monitor’s Durban II Resource Guide for more information on the Conference and participating NGOs.