The British government has confirmed it will not send a delegation to the UN’s anniversary of the Durban conference over historic concerns of anti-Semitism and Israel hatred. A great result following calls from CUFI and others to boycott the event.
Boris Johnson’s government joined the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries who have previously announced they will be boycotting the event.
A British Government spokesperson confirmed: “Following historic concerns regarding antisemitism, the UK has decided not to attend the UN’s Durban Conference anniversary event later this year.”
CUFI UK led calls for the UK to end its involvement in this event and we welcome this result, which is a positive for all the pro-Israel groups and organisations fighting anti-Semitism who also called for the UK to boycott this event.
To understand why it is important for the UK government to take this action we need to understand what the Durban conference is.
The infamous World Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in 2001 was overshadowed by notoriously trying to define Zionism as racism. The event involved hatred, anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel that was excessive, disproportionate and unfair. Copies of anti-Semitic propaganda, including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were reportedly distributed at the parallel NGO conference and Jewish representatives were harassed. It was here that the ‘apartheid’ slur against Israel originated.
In 2011, former Prime Minister David Cameron said the 2001 conference in Durban “saw open displays of unpleasant and deplorable anti-Semitism.” He said it would be “wrong to commemorate those displays,” adding, “Indeed, they should be condemned.”
The event the UK is now boycotting is the Durban IV conference planned for September. The UN General Assembly will be hosting the 20th-anniversary commemoration of the Durban conference in New York where world leaders will be asked to call for the “full and effective implementation” of the 2001 Durban Declaration.
As you can imagine, we at CUFI fully oppose this anti-Semitic conference and any statement against Israel it produces. Far from combatting racism, it instead promotes racism against the Jewish people and their state. It is right, therefore, that the UK and other Western nations have opposed this event and we pray more nations will join the call to boycott.
The news has also been welcomed by political groups and the Jewish community in the UK.
A Conservative Friends of Israel spokesperson said the group “applauds this latest decisive action from the UK government in opposing antisemitism in whatever form it occurs.”
Marie can der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, said: “We warmly welcome the Government’s announcement that the UK will not attend Durban IV, a commemoration of a supposed anti-racism conference which itself was antisemitic. We will always support the fight against racism, but this must include opposing antisemitism in all its forms.”
JLC Co-Chief Executive Claudia Mendoza thanked the government “for taking our concerns seriously and withdrawing from this abuse of UN processes. People need to be under no illusions, this conference exists to delegitimise Israel and legitimise anti-Jewish racism.”
Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust said the government had “done the right thing by taking a principled stance” by boycotting the Durban conference.
Acting chair of the Zionist Federation, Richard P Woolf, also welcomed the announcement, saying the “government have ensured that the UK continues to stand on the right side of history against the pernicious and globally rising scourge of antisemitism.”
CUFI would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of you who joined our campaign and urged the government to take this action.