Bush Administration May Skip UN Conference on Racism

As many of you already know, the World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance will take place between August 31 and September 7, 2001, in Durban, South Africa. Israel and its international network of supporters have been working diligently to omit from the conference agenda any meaningful discussion of Zionism and anti-Arab racism in Israel. American Jewish organizations and pro-Israel members of Congress have introduced legislation seeking to influence the United Nations and pressure the Bush Administration on this matter.
The Administration has not yet decided whether to attend the conference, to boycott it, or to have a low-key participation in its proceedings. U.S. officials have expressed concern about how the conference organizers plan to deal with two main issues – Zionism and the issue of reparations for slavery. State Department spokesmen were quoted as saying “Serious work has to be done to eliminate unbalanced and inflammatory language on the Middle East and slavery and reparations” before the U.S. decision to participate is announced. These issues are expected to be settled at next week’s preparatory discussions held in Geneva.
A similar campaign has been waged in Congress where Representative Tom Lantos (D-12-CA) has introduced legislation (H.R. 212) describing attempts to discuss the issue of Zionism and discrimination in Israel as an attempt to undermine the conference by using it as “a platform to resuscitate the divisive and discredited notion equating Zionism with racism.” Lantos would like the discussion in Durban to deal with discrimination and prejudice “without reference to specific regions, countries, or present-day conflicts.”
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-30-TX) introduced H.R. 211, a more balanced resolution urging the Bush Administration to send a high-level delegation to the UN conference led by Secretary of State Colin Powell “to demonstrate to the world the seriousness with which the United States Government approaches not only the WCAR, but the grave situation of racial discrimination around the globe.”
NAAA-ADC supports H.R. 211 and urges all its members and friends to do the following:
1) Call, email or write President George W. Bush urging that the U.S. Administration participate fully and meaningfully in the World Conference on Racism because it is in the broad national interest of the United States to do so. Boycotting the conference would diminish the credibility of the United States and further isolate it in the world community. 2) Call, email or write your member of Congress urging that he/she cosponsor H.R. 211. For assistance identifying or locating your representative, please check the ADC website at www.adc.org.
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1414
The Honorable_________________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3121 (House Switchboard)
1) The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance (WCAR) is a historic and unique opportunity for the United States to address the global issue of racism.
2) It is in the national interest of the United States to assume a leadership role in this new fight against racism and discrimination.
3) The Administration should base its decision to participate in WCAR on the broad national interest of the country and not on purely narrow political considerations.
4) The United States cannot afford to be isolated or marginalized on these issues of crucial importance to large domestic and international constituencies.
5) As a world superpower, the U.S. cannot afford to stand on the sidelines as the international community seeks to develop more functional and operational guidelines to deal with the scourge of racism and discrimination.
6) The Bush Administration must send a high-level delegation to WCAR headed by the Secretary of State.
7) The United States should extend adequate moral and financial support to the conference to ensure its success.

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