One of Colin Powell's best moves as Secretary of State was to pull out of the United Nations' 2001 conference in Durban against racism once it became an anti-Semitic rant. One of the best moves the new U.S. Administration and Europe could make is to stay away from the follow-up meeting altogether.
"Durban II," planned for April in Geneva, promises to be an encore of the same old Israel-bashing. The draft declaration says Israel's policy toward the Palestinians amounts to no less than "a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security." We'll spare you the rest.
Israel will be the main obsession, but it's not the only target. The draft declaration also goes after the West's freedom of speech and antiterror laws under the guise of protecting religion (read: Islam) from "defamation." The entire West will be in the dock for allegedly persecuting Muslims. "The most serious manifestations of defamation of religions are the increase in Islamophobia and the worsening of the situation of Muslim minorities around the world," the draft reads. "Islamophobia" is a term used to brand any criticism of Islam as a hate crime.
The Islamic terrorists who have killed hundreds of thousands of their co-religionists get a free pass. Instead, the draft calls for a media code of conduct and "internationally binding normative standards . . . that can provide adequate guarantees against defamation of religions." If this sounds like censorship, that's because it is.
The conference is being organized by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which, like its discredited predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, has been taken over by the world's main abusers of human rights. The Organization of Islamic Countries, the most powerful voting bloc at the U.N., put Libya in charge of preparing Durban II, assisted by such other pillars of the international community as Iran and Cuba.
If the Durban II drafters have their way, any challenge of Islamic teachings, including teachings used to justify violence, would be taboo. Reprinting the Danish Muhammad cartoons, exploited by Muslim agitators in 2006 to incite riots around the world, would be a criminal offense. Even gross human-rights violations in Islamic countries -- such as stoning adulterers in Iran -- could be immune from criticism.
Though couched in the language of religious rights, the draft isn't concerned with the right to practice one's religion. If it were, it would have focused on the plight of religious minorities in many Muslim states. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the public worship of any religion other than Islam is forbidden.
The drafters further demand that the fight against terrorism must not "discriminate" against any religion. They specifically complain about the "monitoring and surveillance of places of worship, culture and teaching of Islam." Since these are exactly the places where Islamic terrorists tend to recruit new followers, stopping such common-sense policing would render the West defenseless.
Israel said last month it will stay away from Geneva. Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper deserves kudos for having made that call in January. "We will not be party to an anti-Semitic and anti-Western hate-fest dressed up as antiracism," he said. The decision about whether to send a delegation to Durban II will be an early test of Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton and the new Obama Administration.