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Durban II: Shameful Hypocrisy of the West
Abraham Lincoln described a hypocrite as a man who murdered both his parents... and pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan. The vile and shameful hypocrisy of the West in order to accommodate Israel has no boundaries - with no end in sight.
Eight years ago, Israel demanded that the United States boycott the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), better known as Durban I owing to its location in Durban, South Africa. The conference dealt with the most basic of human rights in addition to the issues of slavery and the plight of Palestinians. At that time, the U.S. and Israel had walked out abhorring the language of racism. Yet, the Israeli government had no qualms about working with the Apartheid government of South Africa – without reservation, and while the world boycotted this racist regime, the Israeli government provided them with the technology to build the most heinous weapon known to mankind – the nuclear bomb[I].
In 2008, America’s first black president was elected. Peoples around the world shared America’s vision of "Hope" and "Change." The President-elect’s multi-ethnicity prompted many to claim him as one of their own: the name Hossein, the namesake of a Shi’a prophet, pleased the Iranians. The Arab Bedouins in northern Israel believed he was related to them. Arab Moslems could relate to an American president whose name meant ‘blessing’ in Arabic. Mr. Obama himself had told the Jewish community that his name meant ‘lightning’ in Hebrew. As candidate Obama, he had promised AIPAC something that Mr. Bush would not have dreamt of doing. In spite of numerous resolutions against Israel for its occupation of East Jerusalem[II], Mr. Obama declared there should be an undivided Jerusalem[III], raising even the eyebrows of some in the Bush Administration.
It comes as no surprise that the Obama administration boycotts Durban II with a few other “Western” countries in tow - at the behest of Israel. What is offensive to those who appreciate equality and abhor racism is the hypocrisy of a country whose Prime Minister declared openly: "[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs." (Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, "Begin and the 'Beasts,"' [New Statesman, June 25,1982].) Did any “Western” country protest or find this racist remark to be vile and shameful?
Was there any sense of disgust and shame by the “Western” countries when Ariel Sharon was acquitted of his crimes in 2003? The survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre took their case to Belgium courts and the Belgian Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiffs' motion. But in 2003, due to pressure from the United States, the next day it was announced that “the case against Ariel Sharon has been thrown out by Belgium's highest court"?[IV]
Did any “Western” suits walk out of the United Nations when John Bolton deliberately allowed Israel to continue the bombing of Lebanon with around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets covered Lebaon – as one IDF head describes it: “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs". [V]
There was no rebuke – only additional arms for Israel. Just as the Gaza massacre from December last year to January of this year brought additional arms from the United States while the world watched in horror – and continues to watch in disbelief as 1.5 million Gazans perish in an outdoor prison.
One has to wonder if these same heads of state felt any outrage when in violation of Article II of the UN Charter, Israel continuously threatens Iran and its 70 million inhabitants with war. Yet, the same country that demanded America and other proxies to abandon the Conference Against Racism had a bunch of clowns representing it to interrupt a speech which was condemning its oppressive behavior. Unfortunately for Israel, its over-reliance on force has dulled its wit. Clowns have a history that dates back thousands of years – and those who performed as court jesters had great freedom of speech. Once again, underscoring the hypocrisy of Israel, clowns attempt to halt speech!
In 2001, Yossi Beilin, the former Israeli Justice Minister, criticized the decision to leave Durban, saying Israel should have kept a delegation here to respond to the anti-Israel rhetoric[VI]. This year, it would appear the “Western” countries' response was the usual double-standard – unable to respond to the accusations, the delegates left. Durban II was momentous in that it demonstrated that Israel can massacre at will and play the orphan card. Any criticism of its actions is considered vile and shameful – while Israel’s behavior is encouraged with silence.
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has a Master of Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg for Communication. She is an independent researcher with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the influence of lobby groups.