Thursday, September 15, 2011

Poland Pulls Out of Durban III

A polish diplomat informed The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the Polish government will not send an official delegation to participate in the so-called Durban III anti-racist commemoration event slated for September, 22 in New York City.

In an e-mail to the Post on Thursday, Jacek Biegal, a spokesman for the Polish Embassy in Berlin, wrote “Poland’s high-level delegation is not planned for the Durban III conference.” Critics accuse the the UN-sponsored Durban event with stoking hate against the Jewish state because its founding document attacks only Israel as a violator of human rights.

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When asked repeatedly by the Post via email and telephone if Poland intends to walk away from the Durban III event, Biegal said “That is final official statement with no other comments.” Poland currently heads the 27-member European Union, placing it in a unusual situation because its decision to possibly stay away from Durban III could be viewed as EU policy. Poland's six month term runs from July until December.

The United Kingdom announced on Wednesday that it will not attend Durban III, joining Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, the United States, Israel, Austria, Australia, Canada, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands.

If Poland intends to not show up with a formal delegation, it would mean that 12 countries are boycotting the Durban III event. The Polish government, a major Eastern European country, and traditionally considered a close ally of Israel, would send an additional blow to the UN organizers.

Anne Bayefsky, an expert on the Durban process who has launched a counter Durban III event on September 22 in New York, told the Post on Thursday that "if Poland has withdrawn, then Poland is to be congratulated for pulling-out of Durban III, just as they did for Durban II in Geneva. The UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is attempting to hijack world leaders already arriving in New York for the annual opening of the General Assembly, and to force them to be part of this appalling attack on Israel and human rights. Poland has taken the right step in refusing to be bullied into supporting an agenda that it does not share.”

A human rights scholar, Bayefsky had urged major European powers like Germany and the UK to pull out. She has called on Poland and France to skip the event because of the deeply troubling anti-Semitic climate associated with the Durban process.

In a statement issued to the Post on Thursday, the international human rights organization,The Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote that it “urges Poland to join the growing list of civilized nations and boycott Durban 3. "The only issue that the EU should be discussing is the total and permanent de-funding of the so-called Durban Process. From day one, instead of being an effective anti-racism tool, it has been leveraged to facilitate hate and provide their podiums for the likes of one the world's most dangerous bigots, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who was a spokesman for the Jewish groups at the now infamous Durban Conference ten years ago.

Cooper added that "with threatened economies, growing unemployment, and bailouts for banks across Europe, surely the EU can find something better to invest in than continuing the Durban farce any longer.”

The Post forwarded the Wiesenthal Center's statement to the Polish government on Thursday for a response. The Polish diplomatic spokesman told the Post repeatedly that Poland does not plan to send an official, high level delegation to Durban III.

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