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Next month, the United Nations will convene its infamous Durban anti-racism conference for the fourth time. Despite the conference’s innocuous branding, the event has provided a forum for participants to bash the Jewish state of Israel and revel in antisemitism. The history of the Durban conference is so ugly that it is worth reviewing.

The first conference was held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa. The only true democracy in the Middle East—Israel—was also the only country under discussion at the week-long conference. Iran, Russia, North Korea, Syria and China were all ignored. Nor was any other country with actual human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities called out.

While the declaration from that conference following U.S. and European pressure included “concern [with] the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities,” at the conference itself, speech after speech was dedicated to the demonization of Israel. Founder of the PLO terrorist organization Yasser Arafat decried the “ugliness” of “Israeli racist policies and practices against the Palestinian people.” Arafat’s rhetoric included every slanderous accusation, including calling Israel “a racist colonialist conspiracy of aggression, forced eviction, usurpation of land, and infringement upon Christian and Islamic holy places,” and a “colonialist challenge against international legitimacy…moved by a mentality of superiority that practices racial discrimination, that adopts ethnic cleansing and transfer.” To this day we hear echoes of Arafat’s hateful language from those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish state.

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