« profile & posts archive

This author has written 192 posts for Larvatus Prodeo.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

72 responses to “What if they held a conference on racism and all the whiteys stayed away?”

  1. moz

    To me it seems less about the declaration, and more about Zionists being unwilling to go to places where they will be criticised. Plus it reeks of those who have more to lose being unwilling to participate. If the US especially gets on board things could get ugly for the apartheid state. I do wonder about the propaganda implications, and whether the lunar right in Israel would really be so upset if Netanyahu was seen in the same room as Ahmadinejad. Mind you, after Rabin he is probably right to be fearful.

    The official denialism excuse gets on my wick. Sure, one particular Arab leader in particular denies the holocaust, but no-one on the Israeli side seems upset that many Israeli leaders deny the nakba in exactly the same way.

  2. Paul Norton

    Without naming anyone in particular, could I ask protagonists on this thread to exercise some restraint and think carefully about the form of words you choose to express your sincere and strongly held views.

  3. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Ixnay on the use of Ionistzay – thanks. It’s a loaded term without the advantages of precision.

  4. Andos

    As a member of a deeply racist nation, I am very disappointed that my (Left of centre?) Federal Government would, for such shallow political reasons, boycott an important international forum on racism.

  5. Ilya

    Paul, does it not strike you as rather curious that Israel is the only country named directly in the draft outcome document while the equally as well documented problems in other countries are included under the general umbrella of ‘discrimination’ without naming the culprits? Would you consider singling out one particular issue a form of discrimination in itself?

    Does it also not worry you that the Israel / Palesine issue – a predominatly territorial and national indentity dispute – is being dicussed under the rubric of racism and discrimination, something both sides deny?

    Also, see US objections to provisions they see as attempting to reduce freedom of speech, specifically speech critical of Muslim countries or Islam.

    Finally, consider the history of the outcome document and what the participant in fact intend it to mean. The current version has been watered down from the original document, even more vociferous with regard to Israel, and emphasising Islamophobia while forgetting about the anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and other discriminatory phobias. Question here whether the document has been watered down, the feelings and the intention of the sponsor states has not.

    The decision to stay way is the correct one. Inevitably, despite whatever the documents may say, there will be bad, virulent speeches made, proposals put forwards, views espoused etc. We do not need to be a part of that.

  6. Hal9000

    Rudd seems determined to continue the Howard/Downer appeasement policy on Israel, which since 2000 has seen Australia join the US, Israel itself, and, er, the Federated States of Micronesia in voting against any criticism of Israel, no matter how muted or even handed. This policy shift manifestly works against Australian interests in both diplomacy and trade. For example, the chances of Australia getting a Security Council guernsey are and will remain zero while Australia is seen to have subcontracted its foreign policy to Tel Aviv.

    Moreover, this fundamental shift from the former bipartisan ‘even handed’ policy has happened without debate – presumably because the new and shameful policy is also bipartisan. When and where were these decisions taken, and who was involved in them?

    The lack of debate about Israel/Palestine policy – surely the epicentre of middle eastern instability – is all the more extraordinary given that all these issues are vigorously debated within Israel itself, where much that is said openly and unexceptionably would instantly excite ‘anti-semitism’ charges from the Zionist lobby if said in Australia.

  7. Paul Norton

    Ilya, you make some fair points to which I can only reply briefly.

    1. It probably is curious that a few particular peoples, countries and conflicts (although not just Israel/Palestine) are singled out for specific mention whilst most others are covered by general formulations. The question still remains as to whether what is said about Israel/Palestine is inherently objectionable.

    2. Unfortunately, many disputes about territory and national identity evoke manifestations of racism and discrimination, and if this is so it warrants attention, whatever the protagonists might say about themselves.

    3. In relation to the other matters you raise, you acknowledge that the current text is an improvement on the original version. This would seem to be an argument in favour of staying within the process and continuing to negotiate for improvements.

    4. In virtually any deliberative political process bad things will be said and bad proposals put forward. The point is to oppose them with better proposals and better arguments.

    More generally, I would reiterate that the problem of the boycott taking the form of a “white flight” from the global system (which is surely not what those advocating a boycott intended or wanted) has taken on a life of its own which is likely to overshadow whatever objectionable aspects of the Conference led to the initial calls for a boycott.

  8. PeterS

    What I don’t understand is what racism has to do with the Palestinian/Israeli dispute. All direct participants are of the same “race” for any definition of the term that I am aware of.

  9. Colonel of Truth

    Andos #4 says “As a member of a deeply racist nation, I am very disappointed that my (…) Government would (…) boycott an important international forum on racism.”
    Two comments: 1. Andos’ ‘deeply racist’ slur is offensive, at least to me. Does Andos really believe Australia is far more racialist than other countries? Evidence please. And if Andos cites Cronulla (or Lambing Flat) please do so objectively and, inter alia, cite the number and frequency of racialist riots in other countries – including those resulting in loss of life. 2. If Oz demonstrates its ‘deeply racist’ nature by boycotting Durban II, then what does Andos say about Canada and NZ? And the Netherlands? Or are these countries as racialist as Oz merely because their populations are predominantly white?

    Hey, we have our racial and cultural issues – some ugly – in Oz. All countries do. But the ‘deeply racist’ label does not reflect the reality of our overwhelmingly tolerant society.

  10. Razor

    PeterS is taking the “Anti-semtism applies to Arabs as wella as Jews” pedantry line. Goody for him.

  11. CptR

    The PR campaign against this conference has been horrendous, including the frequent mention of the preparatory committee being “chaired by Libya” without any qualification, but in a manner that clearly implies that we ought to be shocked and distressed by “Libya” being near such sensitive matters. I’ve chosen my words very carefully with what I am about to say: this is a case of the apartheid state and its closest supporters avoiding forthright discussion about the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. America gets a 2-for-1 because they won’t have to participate in discussions about remedying the injuries of human trafficking. With all due respect Paul, I wonder what it is about comment #1 (unless intervening posts have been deleted) that you find to be borderline in language? Is it the Zionism? Is it the Apartheid? Or is it merely the somewhat careless language to describe Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination? I don’t care much for the careless language but I fail to see how Israel is neither zionist nor apartheid (pertaining to the international criminal court definition rather than directly parallel to apartheid South Africa).

  12. Ken Lovell

    The Washington-centric approach to international affairs places lots of importance on symbolism, especially on who are to be regarded as fit and proper people to associate with in public. We can see examples right now with the enormous fuss about Obama having shaken the hand of Chavez or the merits of talking to the Iranians unless they first agree to make humiliating concessions.

    It can be seen also in our public response to the Fiji situation, which consists apparently of kicking them out of the clubs dominated by white Anglo nations. It’s glaringly apparent in attitudes to the UN, which despite having been largely the creation of the USA is now widely derided there and often here as something which right-thinking advanced nations have little in common with.

    I don’t know what the explanation is. Maybe it’s partly a mentality that can’t distinguish between losing an argument and losing a vote; maybe it’s partly suppressed anger that these bloody third world countries keep getting ideas above their station; maybe it’s partly reluctance to acknowledge the changing world order in which the slow decline of ‘The West’ seems irreversible.

    Whatever the reasons, it’s disappointing to see the Australian government taking such a craven line. Participating in international forums and presenting an evidence-based, rational argument is surely a good thing for us to do and if at the end we can’t endorse the majority view well so be it. Are we really so immature or insecure we can’t face the prospect of being outvoted occasionally?

  13. Paul Burns

    A little bit of science. Some time ago there was a history program on ABC1 or SBS, I can’t recall which, which dealt with the archaeology of, for want of a better term, the Holy Land. As is the case with archaeologists these days, they employed all the resources of modern science, including DNA tests, which showed that Arabs and Israelis come from the same genetic stock. Just sayin’.

  14. Peter Hollo

    So, Paul, racism is only ever racism if it’s got a sound genetic basis?
    All humans come from the same genetic stock. The whole concept of race is on very shaky genetic ground altogether, but racism remains – because it’s about people’s perceptions of themselves and others, not about DNA tests.

    It’s a sad fact of life, and quasi-scientific point-scoring isn’t going to make it go away. If one group of people’s (mal-)treatment of another group of people isn’t based on their religious beliefs, or their political beliefs, or their gender, the racist boot is likely to fit.

  15. sublime cowgirl

    they employed all the resources of modern science, including DNA tests, which showed that Arabs and Israelis come from the same genetic stock. Just sayin’.

    As i recall i was brought up thinking that was a pretty orthodox belief stemming from Old Testament/Koran writing. Both the seed of old Father Abraham, the controversy is only as to who comes from the slave/ illegitimate line.
    Jews claim Sarah, Moslems claim Hagar i think.

  16. Paul Burns

    Maybe I should have made it cleare it was a response to Razor’s anti-semitism comment on 10. I agree with you absolutely, Peter Hollo.
    Of course you’re right. But now they’ve apparently proved it scientifically.

  17. Hal9000

    On the ‘we’re all Semitic’ meme – Israeli immigration law adopts the same definition of Jewish as the German authorities used in the ’30s and early ’40s, viz. having one Jewish grandparent. Religion isn’t an issue, although I believe it is possible (if difficult) for a convert to be accepted if a panel of rabbis so determines the case. That’s why all the Russian immigration (e.g. Avigdor Lieberman – a club bouncer from the former Soviet republic of Moldavia) in the 90s.

    Palestinian Arabs, meanwhile, can’t get in even if they were born there, nor can they get a spouse in even if she or he lives cheek by jowl with Israeli Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. So Israeli law has no difficulty whatever discriminating (a valid term in all senses) Palestinian Arabs from Jews, and affording them differential classes of citizenship.

    Screeds have also been written on discrimination against Israeli Jews from non-European backgrounds. But I’ll leave the last word to Peter Cundall, who served in Mandate Palestine in the 1940s with the British Army and who said in his ABC interview with Peter Thompson

    “I was passing through France and Germany – I mean, it was town upon town that was totally shattered and destroyed, and that’s when I first came into contact with the people who’d just been liberated from the concentration camps. It was appalling. It was a bit of a shock when I left Austria to be posted almost immediately to another war zone – Palestine, Gaza. And for the first time, I met some of the Jewish settlers, and I suppose the thing that shocked me more than anything else – and it was quite illuminating – that some of them were quite racist in their attitude towards the Arab people. And of course I’ve learned since that quite often the very worst tyrants can be the ex-slaves.” Source: http://www.abc.net.au/talkingheads/txt/s1884342.htm

  18. derrida derider

    Geez, people, can we all please forget the usual ME flame war just for a moment and look at the issue in the post? I’m especially tired of bad faith accusations of antisemitism designed to shut down, rather than help, discussion.

    Based on Paul’s description there doesn’t seem to be much reason to boycott the thing. And the disgracefully slanted “news” report of it on today’s front page of The Australian doesn’t give me any more reason to think there is a reason.

    But the one thing that makes me think there might be a good reason is the list of countries that are boycotting it. NZ, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden are hardly American satellites likely to be influenced by the Israeli lobby in Washington.

  19. moz

    derrida, NZ has recently gained a right-wing government who are very keen to curry favour with Washington. They were grovelling to Bush before him and Howard departed and I suspect they regret those departures. Key makes Turnbull look positively statesmanlike and decisively, not to mention firmly in control of his party.

  20. moz

    careless language to describe Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination?

    I regret that the language seemed casual. It was carefully chosen to reflect my belief that religious extremists in Israel will assassinate politicians that they strongly disagree with, and being seen to meet with Ahmadinejad could qualify. I think Netanyahu might disagree, but he’s likely to be aware of the possibility.

    I think one likely consequence will be a more strongly worded condemnation of white racism, and quite possibly some pro-Islamic material that I doubt will endear the forum to even many Muslims, let alone the non-muslim world. I am curious as to which will dominate, but I doubt that anything else will. There’s a lot of material that could usefully be covered, but Israel has again chosen to make itself the focus.

  21. paul

    Well done to the Australian government in kowtowing to the Zionist lobby and not attending the UN meeting on racism.
    Why would we want to reveal Israel as the only country in the world that permits only emigrants from one religion in.That ethnic cleansing is alive and well in the West Bank and a successful apartheid system..That Israel has a 22% Palestinian population yet due to gerrymandering only 3% of their MPs.That Israeli settlers continue to push the indigenous population out.That an Israeli Arab has to leave the country if he/she marries a foreigner.
    Well done Mr Rudd that should keep it quiet.

  22. consumer

    So much of those two documents looks reasonable and necessary, it’s a shame that it has this defence of religion stuff bolted on. Not to mention Israel-Palestine, where I’m feeling OT even bringing it up…

    Durban Review Conference Declaration para. 12 as quoted in the OP seems to lack the qualifications necessary to distinguish incitement to violence from criticism of religion. I feel that this encourages those who do violence when offended to feel justified in that violence. Not only that, it encourages state control of this kind of expression.

    Unacceptable to me as a secular person. Australia could do some ear-bashing of its own on that topic. I guess the benefits to participate in that way are very low though. Just gives reasons for people to hate us. Australia standing up for the principle of free speech about religion is not a risk free option. (If an Australian gets killed over it, the recriminations would be huge). Abstaining is low risk, but I think it confuses and depresses in equal measure. Whereas staying away is the safest (nothing on tv).

  23. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    I have my own objection to the Durban declaration. Not all of it – not even all of the parts quoted by Paul Norton. In fact, it is only section 63 with which I have issues.

    63. We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion;

    Should declarations be mandating the number of states for self-determination?

    A single state of Palestine as the border currently stands is untenable. It consists of two enclaves left over from two countries (Egypt and Jordan) that weren’t competent enough to hold their own in 1968. They’re not whole enclaves either – one has to subtract the territory stolen by Israeli settlers, and then the access roads to those areas. As an academic exercise, it is ridiculous; as left overs to the Palestinians, it is humiliating. The only reason we are talking two states rather than one is the (probably correct) assumption that the Israelis and Palestinians can’t live among each other.

    Personally, I’d prefer one state for Arab and Jew with full inalienable rights for both. No bantustans, no disenfranchisement for Palestinians, no bulldozers. Full democratic elections, with Hamas and Likud using ballots instead of bullets against each other. The Palestinians get back the land stolen from them in 1948, and the Israelis get the freedom to not worry about suicide bombings. Alternately – what if people want three states? West Bank is Fatah leaning; Gaza is Hamas dominant; there are cultural differences between the areas.

    I think a “happy” one state solution (as opposed to the “unhappy” one state solution that is the status quo) is unlikely to occur. But it would probably be more sustainable than a jerry-rigged two state solution consisting of two pieces unconnected with each other. It’s really up to the Palestinians to decide how many states they would prefer. Not declarations.

  24. Andrew E

    What about the inherent absurdity of a conference on racism ganging up on a people (Israelis, Jews) and a set of beliefs founded on religious teachings (Zionism)? Is that not inherently pointless? Any money, time or other resources spent on such a ridiculous exercise would be wasted – with the following exception.

    I suggest the Australian delegation set up a picture of a stereotypical Jew (a still from der Ewige Jude will do) and hand out boomerangs. Delegates can take a boomerang and throw it at the said picture. The boomerang will describe a graceful arc and smack each delegate in the head (there will be no complaints as there is no Israeli boomerang industry to speak of). When this is completed, the declaration will say “most constructive UN conference evar!!!!!1!111!!!” and all the whiteylands can suffer in their jocks!

  25. pablo

    I think the $38 million allocated to smooching Afro-Asian votes for an Australian seat on the UN security council can now be safely returned to consolidated revenue.
    As a former diplomat this no-show decision has Rudd’s fingerprints all over it. Be interesting to know how any Cabinet discussion went on the subject. Foreign Affairs rooster, Stephen Smith might have argued that it wasn’t a good look. Those with a responsibility for immigration and border security might have reasoned that they could have discussed discrimination and its refugee consequences with the dominant Pashtuns in Afghanistan; the Burmese generals and the Singalese of Sri Lanka. Oops hope I haven’t given a lifeline to Malcolm. My guess is his electorate has been lobbying hard for the Rudd line.

  26. Ilya

    Paul, I wonder if you still feel that we made a mistake to stay away after Ahmadinejad’s contribution. As I mention above, we do need to be part of this hateful circus, Durban II neither offers nor deserves an opportunity for construtive debate.

  27. Ilya

    ‘Do NOT need to be part of…’ that should above, #26.

  28. zozimos

    If Zionism is racism, then Arabism is Nazism. Just look at Sudan, yet no one dares
    propose arab racism against the indigenous Africans so much as even be mentioned for fear of offending arab sensibilities.

  29. Chef

    Bzzzzt – Godwin’s violation!

  30. Marks

    Ah well, at least now we can say we did NOT walk out on AhMADinejad.

  31. Paul Norton

    Ilya at #26/27, I wrote the last two paragraphs of my last comment in anticipation that Ahmadinejad would put on just the kind of wretched performance we’ve seen from him, and I stand by them, and I stand by my view that it would be a grave error for the wealthy white West to absent itself from an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation with the entire global East and entire global South because of the unpleasant activities of one screwball.

  32. Chav

    “Ahmadinejad […] criticised the creation of a “totally racist government in occupied Palestine” in 1948, calling it “the most cruel and racist regime”.”

    Lol. In what sense is this a false statement!? If it is then what was all the liberal angst about the siege of Gaza about..? Were the deaths of over a thousand Palestinians carried out by the other, nice and not at all cruel Israeli regime?

    This is even better,…

    “The United Nations conference that opened on Monday in Geneva had a goal that should have united and mobilised the international community: the struggle against all forms of racism,” said President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office.”

    Sarkozy, the current steward for French imperialism in Africa and the Pacific, want to carry on a struggle against racism by…not labeling any countries racist…

  33. Andrew E

    Thanks for proving my point, chav.

    If I could be sure that Israeli racism was the key to all racism everywhere, and that a blow against Israel was a blow for all oppressed and discriminated-against people everywhere (rather than just a fountain of snark), and that my Kenyan friends could walk the streets of western Sydney without having insults yelled at them or people crossing the street to avoid the sheer force of their gentle and generous personalities – I’d be all for Australian participation. It’s not, so I’m not.

    Interesting to note that the normally negative Opposition are very quiet on this. Can you imagine Downer going to this, even for the sake of [insert name of great Geneva restaurant here]? Me neither.

    Langmore’s article in today’s Daily Fairfax is based on a desperately silly premise: “Opportunity to end racism goes to waste” my arse. This provides no opportunity, no ending, not even with the magnetic presence of Stephen Smith wishin’ and hopin’.

  34. Chav

    Glad to be of help Andrew E, perhaps I could also help you in building a wall around your Kenyan freind’s houses and dousing their neighbourhoods with white phosphorous on a semi-regular basis?


    “If I could be sure that Israeli racism was the key to all racism everywhere, and that a blow against Israel was a blow for all oppressed and discriminated-against people everywhere…”

    Well, given that the majority of delegates who stormed out of the conference were from Western nations and that apparently, “… other delegates who stayed to hear him speak greeted his words with applause.”, it would seem the oppressed and discriminated do in fact see the struggle against Israeli racism as a key step.

  35. Paul Norton

    Well, some of the other delegates applauded Ahmadinajad, but I’d be interested to know which ones and what their democratic credentials are.

    Perhaps a more pertinent question for supporters of a boycott is why the democratically elected governments of such important countries as India, Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Korea, which can’t be placed with the Ahmadinajads and Kim Jong-Ils of this world, don’t share the white fliers’ view that the uttering of actual or possible insults against Israel by rogue elements is sufficient cause to walk away from a global anti-racism forum where there is the possibility of agreement on many important issues.

  36. PeterTB

    dousing their neighbourhoods with white phosphorous

    You really have no idea about the use of phosphorous in artillery shells – do you Chav?

    Some would find your childlike innocence and ignorance attractive.

  37. GregM

    I stand by my view that it would be a grave error for the wealthy white West to absent itself from an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation with the entire global East and entire global South because of the unpleasant activities of one screwball.

    Paul, you are touchingly niave and sadly misinformed if you think that the people attending this conference in any way represent the entire global East and entire global South.

    First, not all countries from what you call the global East and global South are attending the conference. Second, many of the countries from the global East and global South will be represented by governments which do not represent their own people so having dialogue and cooperation with them is in no way having dialogue and cooperation with the entire of anything.

  38. Katz

    If Israeli state discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens isn’t racist, what form of discrimination is it?

  39. Nana levu

    Both Israelis and Palestinians are Semitic people. Maybe the Israelis have a bit more European blood from the long exile in Europe. Maybe the Palestinians have more Arab and other blood after so long as the hub of Islamic trade routes. But basically the difference is religious. So it is not discrimination on the basis of race but discrimination on the basis of religion. Same with Northern Ireland, Bosnia. In how many conflicts have they dug up bodies in mass graves and can not tell from the DNA which side the slaughtered were on.

  40. Paul Norton

    GregM, see my comment at #35.

    Also, what alternative process do you propose for inter-governmental cooperation on ending racism and racial discrimination? Are you able to light a candle as well as cursing the darkness?

  41. Paul Norton

    Further to GregM at #37, are you suggesting that global governance and inter-governmental cooperation should only involve democracies?

  42. tigtog


    If Israeli state discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens isn’t racist, what form of discrimination is it?

    Some would argue that the word du jour should be “sectarian”. The cultural rules about inheritance of Jewish status by blood (although there have always been converts as well) complicate things when looking at Jewishness as simply a religious or a racial status (insert all usual caveats about race being a social construction rather than a biological fact here).

  43. Ambigulous

    I-had-a-dinner-jacket really let the cat out of the bag on the first day, eh?

    Perhaps it wasn’t just some aspects of the “proposed outcomes document” the Australian Govt objected to.

    Might it have been because the Pres of Iran was going to speak?
    He who so delicately suggested that a UN member state be obliterated?

    May I suggest that in the light of PM Rudd’s strong condemnation of that particular speech of the Pres, it was quite consistent behaviour to refuse to attend? TV footage of many delegates walking out on the Pres’s speech was interesting. It seems that Australia, NZ, USA, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Canada are in good company.

    Andrew E: your boomerang scenario is excellent! Why shouldn’t diplomats have fun??!!

  44. Paulus

    I honestly don’t see what the point of this conference is.

    For a start, racism is intrinsically bound up with political, social and economic issues inherent to each nation and region. They have to be tackled and solved by each nation on its own terms.

    Many of these solutions will require political settlements that are utterly beyond the scope of this conference to achieve. However the Israel-Palestine conflict will finally be ended, I’m damn sure its not going to be at a UN talk-fest.

    So, lacking the power to resolve the underlying political conflicts, the conference will inevitably lapse into either ‘racism is bad’ motherhood statements, or political slanging-matches. Why waste taxpayer money attending this?

    There’s another problem. This is a conference for UN member states. NGOs can participate as “observers” only.

    This means that particular instances of racism only get a mention if there’s a state who wants to discuss them. Lots of nations wish to complain about anti-Muslim sentiments — which apparently equates to racism — so one of the official themes of the conference is “hate against Muslims”.

    But what about, say, “hate against Bahais”? Perhaps someone could ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he’s aware of any country that’s been systematically discriminating against and harassing Bahais for the past few decades? No, of course the question isn’t going to be asked, because Bahais, unlike Muslims, have no state sponsor.

  45. Katz

    Some would argue that the word du jour should be “sectarian”

    I wonder if you asked a Palestinian and a Jew whether the other was a member of a different race, they would answer in the affirmative.

    Tigtog’s formulation is one that western liberals, with their inheritance of “scientific racism” can agree with.

    But isn’t the point about racism that race is whatever persons who are inclined to discriminate and to persecute declare it to be?

  46. Paul Norton

    Short answer to Ambigulous at #43. Walking out in protest at one obnoxious speech by one obnoxious head of one obnoxious state is not the same thing as absenting oneself from an entire global conference.

    It would appear that the reasonable people from the European Union, having made clear their disapproval of the Mad Mullah, have nonetheless decided to stay on and find ways of doing business with the reasonable people from other parts of the world.

  47. tigtog


    But isn’t the point about racism that race is whatever persons who are inclined to discriminate and to persecute declare it to be?

    Exactly, which is quintessence of a socially constructed identity scheme. No matter how many people quibble over how Palestinians and Jews are Semitic cousins, historically most people in both groups have viewed themselves as separate races for centuries. Where does tribalism end and racism begin?

    In the end it’s all Other-ism. While classifying various manifestations of Other-ism has its analytical uses, arguing about exactly which sort of Other-ism is happening instead of acknowledging/examining/resolving the resultant discrimination/oppression/persecution is a distraction of the crassest kind.

  48. Paul Norton

    There is a more general issue here which is touched on in the exchange between GregM and myself, and which has also been brought up in a thread at Catallaxy.

    Obviously we would all prefer that all the world’s states were authentic democracies, and that all the forums of global governance and inter-governmental cooperation were communities of democratic states. Unfortunately this is not the case in the world we live in. The difficulty is that there are a range of pressing global and international problems which can only be solved by global and/or intergovernmental cooperation, and the non-democratic and deficiently democratic states of the world are sufficiently numerous and (in aggregate) sufficiently populous and geographically large that attempts at global and intergovernmental cooperation are unlikely to succeed without them being on board. That is the hand which history has dealt us, and we have to play it as best we can.

  49. RobWeaver

    Both Israelis and Palestinians are Semitic people

    Quite probably not true, FWIW*.


  50. Fi

    A few points about the racist UN – Durban “anti-racism” conference

    Why Western countries tend to boycott it.

    1) Since Muslim nations (OIC & Iran) push to criminalize criticism of Islamists’ bigotry, doesn’t it mean that anything being said in that conference is the opposite of tolerance and of truth?

    2) How can the UN avoid the largest practitioner of racism, which is Arabism (against: Kurds, Berbers, Africans, Jews, Assyrians, Asians, etc.), but focuses on the so called “anti-Arab racism”?
    [ Arabism is racism! ]

    3) When will Arab racists & Islamic bigots let go of the UN and stop hijacking it with it’s lobbies (silencing Arab racist genocide in Darfur, yet daming innocent Israelis who merely try to survive)?

    4) Why is Arab terror singling out Jews not racist?

    5) Why is the essence of the entire “conflict'” in the M.E. not a form of bigotry by Arab Muslims who can’t “accept” the non Arab non Muslim pluralistic democratic Israel?

    6) Are Jews living, or even allowed to live in racist “Palestinian” controlled territories (Judenrein – ethnic cleaning)?

    7) When will lefty radicals (Meretz/B’Tzelem) talk about preferential treatments to Arabs OVER Jews inside Israel, like in Hebron and in other cases?

    8) Why are (Arab Palestinian or Hezbollah) the ones using its own kids as cannon fodders considered “innocent victims”?

    9) Is Israel battling just terrorism or an ARAB MUSLIM CAMPAIGN OF GENOCIDE since the 1920’s?

    10) Is it not anti-Jewish racism to brand Israel’s fight to defend lives as “racism”?

    11) How more racist can the Durban-conference get, If the two oppressive regimes: Libya & Iran are the “stars”?
    Libya – whose Muamar Qaddafi (besides his own persecution of non-Arabs, especially blacks in his country, who describe themselves as living like: slaves or animals) the one of the champions in today’s racist Arabization, and Arabist racism push against Africa (whose “vision” has been compared to Hitler’s “lebensraum”), in: Chad, Nigeria, etc., ultimately his crimes in the Sudan region helped in leading the current Al-Bashir’s genocide on Millions of Africans (financed mainly by Libya and S. Arabia).
    Iran, the regime of Islamic bigotry’s oppression on its own population with an added special persecution on all on-Muslims: Christians, Baha’i, Jews, etc. or on non-“pure-Persians” like: Ahwazi – Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, Baluchis, etc. now under the leadership of: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [EichmannJihad – the Islamic Hitler] who plays as if he “denies” the holocaust only in order to prepare for (his wishful) the second, “wiping off Israel”.

    Thus, the shame of the UN, kidnapped by the epitome of intolerance today, the infamous twin fascism: Arab racism, as in Gadhafi, and Islamic bigotry as in Amadinejad, are going to be “preaching” (and determine) to the world on tolerance.

  51. Paul Norton

    FI, your comment is in moderation whilst I seek advice on whether or not sections of it constitute anti-Arab racism.

  52. Geoff Honnor

    “Perhaps someone could ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he’s aware of any country that’s been systematically discriminating against and harassing Bahais for the past few decades?”

    On past form, he’d say that just as with homosexuals – and contray to uninformed Zionist-inspired opinion – there actually aren’t any Bahais in Iran so he really couldn’t comment. Which reminds me, samesex discrimination was supposedly going to be on the Durban II Agenda along with an acknowledgement that along with Europe and the US , the Arab world too is culpable for the millenium old trans-Saharan and Indian ocean African slave trade – a fact totally overlooked for some reason when Durban I composed its declaration on the subject.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens….

  53. Ambigulous

    Paul Norton: within diplomacy there are several levels of protest. Absenting one’s representatives completely is but one level. Walking out on one speech is another. If a nation’s govt believes (for example) a conference is going to be a waste of time, why attend?

    If a national govt believes the clearest diplomatic signal is given by boycotting, that’s fine with me.

    There are dozens and dozens of other opportunities for “reasonable people” to meet, many provided by the UN, as it happens.

  54. Paulus

    Indeed, Geoff.

    Paul Norton, I agree with you that “there are a range of pressing global and international problems which can only be solved by global and/or intergovernmental cooperation”. Like trade rules, arms control, and many others.

    But why is racism in that category? No country needs “intergovernmental cooperation” to tell them what to do on that score. Did Eisenhower need a memo from the UN before he acted on school segregation? Did Kevin Rudd need other countries’ OK before the apology to the Stolen Generations? Each countries’ actions will be unique to their own circumstances.

    National leaders either know racism is wrong, and will take appropriate steps, or they don’t care — in which case, this conference won’t change their minds.

    Let me draw an analogy to the crime of murder. Would there be any point in holding the Adelaide Conference on the Prevention and Punishment of Murder, in which world leaders would assemble to denounce murder, and solemnly promise that their nation would do everything possible to prevent it?

    It’d be silly, wouldn’t it? You trust each country to put appropriate laws in place against murder. Well, why don’t we leave it to each country to take appropriate measures against racism within their own political context?

  55. Paul Norton

    Ambigulous and Paulus have made some good points just when I need to run for a bus.

    I’ll consider them overnight and consider a response tomorrow (unless I find myself persuaded…).

  56. Geoff Honnor

    “Within diplomacy there are several levels of protest. Absenting one’s representatives completely is but one level.”

    Indeed. For instance, many countries that did decide to attend deliberately refrained from naming a cabinet minister as Head of Mission (which would be the normal protocol) in order to express discomfort and dissatisfaction – and I doubt very much that anyone who did attend did so in the expectation of “honest and open dialogue” about racism and discrimination.

    After all most of the more committed Durban II participants (including South Africa) recently signed up to a declaration angrily opposing the decision of 66 other UN members to support extending Universal Declaration of Human Rights coverage to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity.

  57. Katz

    Would there be any point in holding the Adelaide Conference on the Prevention and Punishment of Murder, in which world leaders would assemble to denounce murder, and solemnly promise that their nation would do everything possible to prevent it?

    Agreed Paulus.

    To hold it in Adelaide would be perverse.

  58. furious balancing

    Katz – “I wonder if you asked a Palestinian and a Jew whether the other was a member of a different race, they would answer in the affirmative.”

    My father, who was Jewish, corrected me when I described a comment by an Arab leader as being anti-semetic..he told me that would be a bit perverse, since Jews and Arabs are all semetic peoples. Interestingly, he also described Israel’s policy re: the Palestinians as ‘racist’, which in retrospect, is a quite contradictory.

    It is not a discrimination on religious grounds either though, because non-religious Jews are eligible for citizenship. I don’t identify as being Jewish, I am not of the Jewish faith, but I could become a citizen of Israel based on having two Jewish grandparents. It’s crazy..I’m probably more anti-zionist than your average Palestinian.

  59. Mercurius

    ……and, with that remark, Katz goes into serious contention for One-Liner of the Year!

  60. Ambigulous

    I second the nomination by Mercurius.

    And did Durban especially merit the first conference on racism??

    Pisa Conference on Skyscrapers.
    Amsterdam Conference on Mud Foundations.
    Sydney Conference on Bureaucracy and Architecture.
    Los Angeles Conference on Gun Control.
    Paris Conference on Politeness.
    Warsaw Conference on Pacts.
    Buenos Aires Conference on Air Quality.
    Griffith Conference on Multicultural Integration and Maintenance of Honour in Society.
    Canberra Conference on World’s Best Practice.

  61. Nana levu

    Katz says “No matter how many people quibble over how Palestinians and Jews are Semitic cousins, historically most people in both groups have viewed themselves as separate races for centuries.”
    That’s is what I thought. But then I married a Palestinian who watches very natural Israeli movies and comments on how the practices of the Jews are so like those of his people.

  62. Paul Norton

    Ambigulous #53, there are indeed several levels of protest within diplomacy. Walking out on an unambiguously disgraceful speech by Ahmadinajad was, in my view, an entirely justified response to something specific which deserved condemnation.

    As to whether the Conference as a whole is a waste of time, the Conference has the following objectives:

    To review progress and implementation by all stakeholders of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Through an inclusive, transparent and collaborative process the Review Conference will assess contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, while identifying concrete counter measures to eliminate these manifestations of intolerance.
    To assess the existing Durban follow-up mechanisms and their effectiveness, as well as other relevant United Nations mechanisms dealing with the issue of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
    To promote the universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and proper consideration of the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination;
    To identify and share good practices in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

    and will be focusing on the following themes:

    Transatlantic slave trade, slavery
    Africans and African descendants/Anti-black racism
    Hate against Muslims
    Indigenous peoples
    Migrants and refugees
    Hate crimes
    Sexual orientation
    Intersectional issues
    Information, communication and the media, including new technologies

    In any event, the justification for boycotting the conference put forward by boycott supporters comes down to the fact that the draft Conference Declaration reaffirms the declaration of Durban I, which is objected to not in its entirety, or even mostly, but on the basis of passages which inter alia affirm Israel’s right to exist and right to security, but which also affirm the national rights of the Palestinians.

    Also, as I have previously argued, the fact that the boycott has come to take the form of a white flight and only a white flight, and that, for example, as Greg Sheridan laments, it is supported by none of the countries in our region except for the two Anglo-Celtic states with unresolved issues with our indigenous peoples, may well take on a life of its own which may overshadow whatever reasons were put forward to justify the boycott.

    In response to Paulus #54, I think it is clear that at least some of the Conference objectives and themes are of a nature that crosses national boundaries and/or requires intergovernmental cooperation. And the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is hardly irrelevant to the capacity or willingness of individual nations to act against racism. The fact that Australia is a signatory to the Convention, and has enacted Federal legislation to give effect to it, has since 1982 empowered Federal Governments to overrule delinquent states on race-related issues.

  63. Ambigulous

    Thanks, Paul.
    Plenty to ponder.

  64. Paul Norton

    No worries, Ambi.

    I’ll be a busy lad today so won’t be commenting much, if at all, but look forward to your response.

  65. Paul Norton

    BTW, a genuine thank you to all those commenters who have done the decent thing and argued with me civilly yet frankly here on this thread rather than misrepresenting my views and libelling me on other blogs.

  66. CptR

    Paul, respectfully, have you listened to or read a complete transcript of Ahmadinajad’s speech? I ask this because much of the MSM coverage of the speech has reified as a bogeyman in its own right, but very little description or discussion of the content seems necessary. Few people even seem aware of what was said. What parts of the speech did you find most appalling, most disgusting, most unbecoming for an international statesman? What would have been your critical moment, when you would have walked out on that unpleasant man? Durban II has been, for months at least, characterised by a nauseating spin war of frames and iteration. In the latest iteration the spin axis is the Iranian President, and frankly I could have learnt as much about him being a nasty so-and-so and the ins-and-outs of Durban II’s place in international politics from the Australian as I have learnt from Paul’s analysis.

  67. Paul Norton


    The BCC has posted a full translation of the speech. I think a phrase such as “the ambiguous and dubious question of Holocaust”, especially on the light of Ahmadinajad’s previous statements on this issue, would be the straw which broke this camel’s back.

    Once again folks, I don’t have time to stoush today.

    P.S. Beyond succinctly stating that the events of 1948 in Israel/Palestine, occurring as they did in the shadow of the Holocaust, and the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict, come closer than anything else I can think of to satisfying Hegel’s definition of tragedy as the clash between right and right.

  68. Paulus

    Would there be any point in holding the Adelaide Conference on the Prevention and Punishment of Murder …

    To hold it in Adelaide would be perverse.

    ……and, with that remark, Katz goes into serious contention for One-Liner of the Year!

    This is so unfair. I make a little passing joke yesterday, quite deliberately, just to see if anyone ever reads what I write, and then Katz responds to it and gets all the credit!

    Now people everywhere will recognise him as Mr One-Liner of the Year, and sexy women will want to sleep with him, and he’ll appear on Australia’s Got Talent, and record companies will offer him deals, and Bono will become his best friend, and he’ll be rich enough to buy his own Caribbean island, and he’ll marry Scarlett Johansson … and … and … no one will ever remember me. *weeps*

  69. FDB

    For the record Paulus, I saw what you did there and found it most amusing.

  70. Katz

    If it’s any consolation, Paulus, I predict that you will continue to be huge in Adelaide.

    Modesty forbids any comment on the allure I exercise upon devastatingly intelligent and stunningly beautiful women.

  71. Paul Norton

    Stop bragging Katz. You’re no match for Graeme Bird. 😉

  72. Katz

    I’m not bragging. I have much to be modest about.