Sunday, November 30, 2008

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

The Forward has a good article up on the tough decision President Obama has to make regarding the UN Anti-Racism Conference, Durban II. The last time around, Durban devolved into an orgy of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate, prompting a departure of Israel and the United States (as well as several Jewish NGOs who were being excluded -- solely on basis of religion/ethnicity -- from participation). Israel has already announced it won't attend the current version, whose draft statement currently is accusing them of "genocide". But the United States may wish to attend anyway in hope of providing countervailing pressure and stemming the anti-Semitic excesses.

It's tough for me to feel optimistic that a committee chaired by Libya is really going to accomplish all that much productive on issues of racism, regardless of what kind of pressure the United States provides. At the very least, it looks like we'll be playing defense, merely trying to mitigate some of the worst excesses rather than actually achieve a fair and balanced resolution. But at the same time, we can't just ignore these groups forever. At some point, the western community is going to have to dive headlong into this maelstrom and get the international community on track. And, not to take another swig of the Kool-Aid, but the time to strike might be while Obama's prestige is highest in the developing world.

It's a tough call, but I'm still leaning against participation. It's not that I don't think that, in the abstract, these sorts of conferences aren't important. It's just that I'm not convinced that, right now, the forces of good have the firepower to get a good, rather than perhaps palatable, resolution on the table. Without that, it strikes me as a waste of our time and prestige, and demeaning to boot. Countries that want spend the weekend ranting about the Zionist Juggernaut can do so on their own time.

(Via Antoine)

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