Out we go! Australia will not attend Durban II conference

April 19, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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Australia will not attend the Durban II Revision Conference against Racism due to open in Geneva tomorrow.

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

ECAJ President Robert Goot

ECAJ President Robert Goot

ZFA President Philip Chester

ZFA President Philip Chester

Stephen Smith, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said: “We cannot be confident the the Reviews Conference will not again be used as a platform to air offensive views, including anti-Semitic views. The Australian Government remains determined to combat racism and racial discrimination wherever it exists.”

The Minister also announced that Canada, Israel, Italy and the United States have indicated that they will not attend.

The 2001 Durban I Conference degenerated into an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic harangue precipitating the walk-out of a number of delegations. Smith acknowledged the work done by the Russian Chair in a bid to bring the text for the Conference to an acceptable level, but he said that the final text reaffirmed the 2001 Durban Declaration and the Program of Action in its entirety, singling out Israel and the Middle East. He said “Australia expressed strong concerns then and continues to have those concerns.”

The President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Robert Goot, told J-Wire: “I think in this case the best way for Australia to combat racism is by not attending a sham conference which amounts to no more than a travesty. We are grateful the Australian Government has decided not to attend.”

Goot’s remarks were echoed by Philip Chester, the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, who added: “The Government’s decision not to attend is sending the right message. I can only hope that other countries, especially in Europe, who are aware of the Conference’s shortcomings, will make the same move and quit the Conference.”

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