The French playwright Moliere once wrote that hypocrisy is a vice that often passes for virtue. The 2001 Durban Conference was such an example. Three days prior to 9/11, the first World Conference against Racism (WCAR) organized by the United Nations in Durban, South Africa ended. Its stated intention was to promote tolerance between nations. Instead, it became a festival for promoting hatred of Israel and the West by some of the most repressive, dictatorial regimes in the world encouraged by European and American NGOs.
At that “Conference”, Yasser Arafat claimed Israel was guilty of a “supremacist mentality, a mentality of racial discrimination” and that “the Israeli occupation is a new and advanced type of apartheid.” Disregarding their own historical complicity in the slave trade and the rat holes of Saudi Arabia (one of the world’s worst violators of human trafficking), African dictators called for slave reparations from the U.S. At the same time, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International refused to demand that calls for violence against Israeli and Western targets be removed from a common NGO communiqu? as violence was sometimes “justified if against apartheid or on behalf of the intifada.” Copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a well-documented anti-Semitic forgery, were openly sold within the Conference area.
Now the UN has announced its intention to organize Durban II in 2009. Durban II promises to raise the rhetoric to new levels of hypocrisy and to further inflame racial and religious intolerance. Already, there is talk of Arab states asking for an agenda item that would call for a declaration to the effect that our current war against Salafi (extremist) Islam is nothing more than a plot to demolish their religion – a ploy by the West to subjugate Muslims everywhere.
As Victor Davis Hanson suggests, perhaps the delegates at a global conference (like Durbin II) should consider setting an agenda on how best to deal with the issue of compensating refugees expelled from their ancestral homes since that seems to be a hot item in the Israel-Palestinian debate. Perhaps Israel could learn from the vast experiences of the collective assembly of distinguished delegates. After all, they have much more experience than Israel in the matter. In the wake of World War II, millions of Germans were forcibly expelled from their homes in East Prussia by the Poles and the Czechs expelled their German citizens from the Sudetenland as well. In addition, millions of Muslims fled India for Pakistan following the bloody riots of 1947 and India not only stripped them of their citizenship, but barred them in its constitution from ever returning to India. Furthermore, between 1948 and 1953, almost a million Jews were expelled from their ancestral homes in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt and had their property confiscated, and in the wake of the Communist takeover of Vietnam, millions of South Vietnamese fled to the U.S. and other Asian countries, so there is a wealth of valuable precedents out there for Israel to follow if and when the issue of compensating Palestinians for property they lost after 1948 is placed on the table.
And perhaps before forcing Israel to return the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians, Durban II delegates could create a model for returning lands to nations that they themselves defeated in war. They could begin with a large slice of historic Germany that is now part of Poland, or the Russian occupation of the Kurile Islands (in northern Japan), or half of Cyprus that the Greeks lost in 1974 after the Turkish invasion. Or, perhaps they could begin with the Western Sahara which was annexed by Morocco, or the 15% of Azerbaijan that has been controlled by Armenia since 1994 not to mention all of Tibet that has been under Chinese occupation since 1950-1. Taking all this into account, the Durbin II delegates have more than enough collective experience to advise Israel on how best to deal with such territories.
And then there’s the issue of setting a global standard for the treatment of terrorists. The Russians and Syrians could really help with this one. During the second Chechnya War of 1999-2000 Russia reportedly sent missiles into Grozny killing tens of thousands of civilians in their search for Chechnya terrorists – explaining why the United Nations later called that city “the most destroyed city on earth.” And Syria completely destroyed the northern Syrian town of Hama in 1982, once home to the Muslim Brotherhood. Over 30,000 people were killed or remain “missing.” And the Indian government looked the other way in 2002 when hundreds of Muslim civilians in Gujarat were killed in reprisal for Islamic violence against Hindus. The lessons learned from these nations on how to deal with terrorists would be invaluable in reassuring a world that continues to condemn Israel for the deaths of fifty-two Palestinians in Jenin. In fact, Israel could really benefit from the Durbin delegates’ collective experiences especially since it is consistently demonized when it retaliates against missile attacks on its civilian population by resorting to targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders (in an effort to reduce civilian collateral damage) and enforces a partial embargo on energy to an enemy dedicated to its destruction. If the above issues can be adjudicated by the delegates attending Durbin II using their own extensive experience in such matters, then resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be a cakewalk.
So let these nations set an example on how to resolve international disputes. The Russians and Syrians could share their wealth of experience with Israel on how best to negotiate with terrorists. Poland, Russia, China, Turkey, Vietnam and Armenia could offer advice on a formula for giving back lands to those whom they have defeated in war, and Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt could become role models on how best to work out a comprehensive resettlement and/or compensation package for the Jews they dispossessed and expelled from their countries after the 1948 birth of Israel.
After a half century of failed attempts to resolve these issues with the Palestinians, Israel could learn much from these other nations at Durban II who have so successfully resolved their own problems that they have never once been criticized by the same body that has somehow always found the time to condemn Israel for “crimes against humanity.”