September 3 , 2001

Contact: Matt Dorf or Steve Rabinowitz

In Durban:
Reva Price 011 27 82858 0510


DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, September 3, 2001 – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the national public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, walked out of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in the midst of anti-Semitic rhetoric and following attempts to single out Israel as a racist state.  Reva Price, JCPA representative to the conference issued the following statement:

“What should have been an important conference against racism has tragically turned into a conference promoting racism.  What was once the most laudable goal of mapping out an international strategy for tackling racism and xenophobia around the world, has sadly become instead a blueprint for anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic hate.

We have tried for months, in pre-conference meetings in Geneva, here in Durban and elsewhere, to join the world community in a global condemnation of racism and hateful speech, only to see the actual conference hijacked by some of the very purveyors of race and hate.  As much as we had hoped and prayed to see this positive work through to its fruition, we cannot sit by and watch as only one country in the world – Israel – is singled out for condemnation.  Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish rhetoric are pervasive in the final draft document, as well as the entire gathering.  Therefore, we are forced to leave the conference.

We praise the U.S. delegation for its tireless work in pursuit of genuine racial reconciliation and language that would have enabled the conference to refocus its attention and the world’s on its original critical goals.  We applaud the Bush Administration and particularly U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell for his unflinching decision to pull out of the conference, as well.  We call on all other fair-minded nations of the world to withdraw from the conference and hope that one day soon we will meet under other auspices to discuss the all-important messages we originally sought to deliver.

We also gratefully acknowledge the work of Norway and Canada in attempting to mediate a compromise, the principled positions of UN Secretary General Kofi Anan and the stands of 43 countries including Russia and India and countries in Europe, Latin America and Africa, against this false branding of Israel.  And lastly, we cannot leave South Africa without expressing our gratitude to our hosts, South African President Thabo Mbeki and Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.  What a shame that a country that has seen such change and handled it with such grace should be forced to host a conference dragged into the mud by such bigotry.”

Ms. Price will be available in Durban through Friday at 011-27-82-858-0510.  Other inquiries may be made to Matt Dorf or Steve Rabinowitz at 202-547-3577.

JCPA is the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community,  serving as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 13 national and 123 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.  It is in Durban as an official non-governmental organization (NGO).

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