The 2001 United Nations Conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, was a turning point in the rise of an international campaign to vilify Israel.
Most of the civilized world was shocked at the crude anti-Semitism that set the tone for that gathering of non-governmental organizations and other activist groups. But, in the years since that debacle, we have seen increased efforts to isolate Israel via academic boycotts and disinvestment. The old discredited U.N. mantra that falsely accused Zionism of being a form of racism has been revived for a new generation of haters of Israel and the Jewish people.
That is why the U.N.'s plans currently under way for the next world conference on racism, scheduled for April 2009, should be regarded with alarm not only by Jews, but by all decent persons.
While U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged that there will be no rerun of Durban's atmosphere of open and vicious anti-Semitism, the release last week of a planned agenda for Durban II that is supported by 53 Asian nations indicates that our worst fears about the conference may be justified.
The Asian statement seems to echo the views of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and regards the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and, indeed, the Jewish state, as inherently racist.
The fact is, there is racism involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but it is centered on the Arab and Muslim unwillingness to accept the legitimacy and the permanence of the one Jewish state on this planet — not the actions of Israel to defend itself against terror.
The U.N.'s leaders cannot wait until it's too late to voice their dismay at the hijacking of this event by anti-Semites. The time is now for the secretary-general, supported by other world leaders, to put his foot down and stop a rerun of Durban's ugly hate before it starts.