WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has decided not to participate in a UN conference against racism dubbed 'Durban 2', which is scheduled to take place in Switzerland in April. A senior US official said the White House would announce its intention soon.
US President Barack Obama's administration sent two representatives to Geneva last week, where negotiations on a document leading the event were taking place. The administration hoped it would succeed in getting anti-Israeli references dropped from the document, which characterizes Israel as a racist and occupying nation.
While the US presence was warmly welcomed, the senior official said Friday that in the negotiations a bad document became worse.
In choosing to withdraw participation from the conference the US is following the lead of Israel and Canada, and a number of European countries are currently awaiting an official statement from the White House in order to declare their refusal to participate as well.
If you've been following Anne Bayefsky's reporting on the pathetic attempts of the US representatives to steer this conference away from blatant antisemitism, this comes as cautiously welcome news. I say "cautiously" because it's not a done deal yet. And I'm skeptical of anything coming out of the White House these days. But just yesterday Bayefsky laid out in very clear terms that we were headed into the deep weeds and the point of no return was rapidly approaching. Maybe someone actually listened.
According to the AP, the decision to withdraw is contingent upon a failure of the conference "to drop all references to Israel and its criticism of religion" in its final document. That's a bet I'd take.