Jewish NGOs withdraw from WCAR in solidarity with Israel

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- A number of Jewish non- governmental organisations have announced their withdrawal from the World Conference Against Racism on Tuesday, hours after the official Israeli delegation withdrew in solidarity with the US.
Shimon Samuels, head of the Jewish Caucus and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre confirmed that American Jewish organisations, representing 440,000 members across the world, would also pull out.
The Middle East issue has been a hot potato at the WCAR even before it kicked off in Durban last Friday and delegates have been divided on how to address issues relating to Zionism.
Zouheir Hamdan, secretary-general of the Lebanese foreign ministry said that two previous international conferences on the issue of racism and racial discrimination, held in 1978 and 1983, had focused on two countries - South Africa and Israel.
He explained that while South Africa had rid itself of discriminatory policies, Israel had increased them.
The secretary-general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Abdelouahed Belkeziz, said the racist policy of Israeli politicians, based on cynicism, so-called racial superiority, the idea of chosen people and its cavalier attitude towards international legitimacy, was outdated.
Also bygone is era in which Israel felt that it could give itself the right to use brute force against unarmed civilians in their own occupied territories or assassinate their politicians, Belkeziz added.
He said those practices constituted breaches of human rights and of international humanitarian laws, adding that the Durban conference must address those issues with the appropriate response and effective deterrence.
Prior to the departure of the Israeli delegation, one of its members, Mordechai Yedid said the WCAR was dedicated to a simple proposition - that all people had a common lineage, and were all, irrespective of race, religion or gender, created in the same divine image.
If slavery is one form of racist atrocity, anti-Semitism is another, he added.
"And by anti-Semitism, we mean the hatred of Jews.
And while Jews may be the first to suffer from its influence, they have rarely been the last.
"Those who cannot bring themselves to recognise the unique evil of anti-Semitism similarly cannot accept the stark fact of the Holocaust, the first systematic attempt to destroy an entire people.
"The past decade has witnessed an alarming increase in attempts to deny the simple fact of that atrocity, at the very time that the Holocaust is passing from living memory to history.
After wiping out 6 million Jewish lives, there are those who would wipe out their death," Yedid said.

04 september 2001 17:33:00

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