by Khadijah Ali (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 7, Muharram, 1443)
That there is widespread racism in the world is not in doubt. Even in societies where racism is widely practised such as Europe and North America, it is condemned, at least verbally. When it comes to identifying the sources of racism or confronting it practically, these same so-called anti-racism champions immediately recoil in horror by advancing pathetic excuses.
Consider the case of the anti-racism conference scheduled this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly annual meeting in New York. Dubbed the ‘Durban anti-racism conference’ after the South African city where the first conference was held in 2001, most Western regimes have announced that they would boycott it. The reason? They accuse the conference participants of indulging in anti-Semitism.
This broad brush is used to denounce any criticism of the Zionist regime’s policies against the Palestinians. In fact, Zionist Israel is the only country in the world that these racists would not allow to be criticized.
Since the Western racists and bigots cannot control the conference narrative or proceedings because each member-state of the UN has equal vote (unlike the UN Security Council where the five veto-wielding members control the agenda), they have vowed to boycott it.
Boycotters include in addition to Zionist Israel, its patron saint the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, France and a host of other European countries. Many of these same countries had also boycotted follow-up meetings in 2009 and 2011. In announcing his country’s boycott of the forthcoming conference, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concerns about “anti-Semitic statements” at previous conferences.
It is quite revealing that France is in the forefront of fomenting Islamophobia against its own Muslim citizens, especially women and girls, yet Macron has the gall to make allegations of anti-Semitism against those that criticize Israeli policies or call for its boycott. Let us be clear: anti-Semitism, like other forms of racism, exists in the world and both France and Europe have a lot to answer for regarding hatred directed against the Jewish people. Yet today what is referred to as anti-Semitism is not based on this historic racism. Instead, the anti-Semitist label is slapped on anyone who criticizes Israeli apartheid that even many Israelis acknowledge exists today.
The French presidency said in a statement on August 13 that Macron “has decided that France will not take part in the follow-up conference due to take place this year as he is concerned by anti-Semitic statements made within the Durban Conference”.
At the first Durban Conference (August 31 to September 8, 2001), such issues as the negative impact of colonialism and slavery were widely discussed. The UN called it the “World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR).” It was one of the biggest global initiatives to combat racism in all its forms. Acknowledging the disastrous consequences of racism, WCAR expressed “regret” for the “massive human suffering and the tragic plight of millions of men, women, and children caused by slavery, the slave trade, the transatlantic slave trade, apartheid, colonialism, and genocide.”
Painstakingly put together after several decades of hard work, this was a serious initiative by the UN. It was also clear who the guilty states were that had imposed colonialism and carried out the trans-Atlantic slave trade and genocide. Let us name the villains: Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. European settlers perpetrated horrific genocides against Indigenous peoples in such places as North America, Australia and New Zealand.
While Durban I adopted a wide range of measures to combat racism in all its forms, it was the issue of Palestine and Palestinian rights that aroused the West’s ire. The conference declaration stated:
“We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion.” It also called for the return of all Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed from their homes and villages by Zionist terrorist gangs including the return of their properties illegally usurped by the Zionists.
Representatives of the US and Israel went berserk because the conference draft resolution said it “recognizes with deep concern the increase of racist practices of Zionism and anti-Semitism in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on discriminatory ideas, in particular, the Zionist movement which is based on racial superiority.” Even though anti-Semitism was also condemned, this was not good enough for the US and Israel. They would not countenance the mention of Zionism as racism. This paragraph was dropped from the final declaration but the dye had been cast. ‘Durban conferences’ would be targeted henceforth. “Durban IV’ in New York is the target of this campaign led not only by Israel and the US but also by their racist allies in Europe, Canada and Australia.
Zionist Israel is a racist entity. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and the US-based Human Rights Watch have both documented deep structural racism within Israeli society. Both concluded that the Zionist state is guilty of the crime of apartheid as did several former Israeli foreign envoys. Coupled with Zionist settlers’ chants of “death to Arabs”, it is inescapable to conclude that Zionist Israel is an apartheid state.
It is also a settler-colonial entity but stating this is dubbed anti-Semitism. Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has already been declared a form of anti-Semitism by many countries including Canada. There is a desperate attempt to shield Zionist Israel from any criticism even when it wilfully murders Palestinian men, women and children. When it bombs Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank or drops massive bombs on apartment buildings in the tiny Gaza Strip, such Zionist crimes are justified as Israel’s “right to defend itself”. In a normal world, this would be called mass murder. But stating this is immediately branded as ‘anti-Semitism’.
If Western regimes are serious about combatting racism in their societies, then they must acknowledge Zionism as racism. Defending Zionist racism means they are complicit in its crimes. Those that boycott the anti-racism conference only confirm their own racism.