I do hope that President Obama is learning a bit about true diplomacy. His decision to first attend the Durban II conference in Geneva was the wrong one. It sent the message to the world that the United states does not support its friends and allies.
For whatever reason, his decision to now boycott the Durban II conference is being seen as one of leadership and courage, taken that he has been trying to make amends with the Muslim world. In this case, he may have lost some clout with the Muslim world, but as gain a lot of respect with Europeans.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday that Italy will not attend the Durban II conference scheduled for April in Geneva because of “aggressive and anti-Semitic statements” in resolutions being prepared for the summit on racism. Israel, Canada and the United States already have said they will not attend.
Foreign Minister Frattini also announced a postponement of a trip to Iran due to anti-Israeli and anti-American remarks by Iranian leaders.
Like the U.S., Frattini said that the decision to boycott Durban II could be reconsidered if the draft resolutions against Israel are changed. Several pre-conference motions have singled out Israel for alleged racism and have accepted Palestinian Authority recommendations supporting its claim that Arab descendants of former Israeli Arabs have the right to immigrate and live in Israel.
The committee preparing resolutions for Durban II also rejected a suggestion for condemnation of anyone denying the Holocaust.
Israel has called on all European Union countries to follow Canada and the U.S. and boycott the conference, a follow-up to the first conference held in Durban, South Africa in 2001. The U.S. walked out of the parley because of harsh anti-Israel resolutions that compared Zionism with racism.
Holland has also put the Durban II planners on notice that it also will join the boycott if the resolutions are not modified.
Italy has now stated that they will not attend. They are in very good company. Three nations are boycotting the Durban II conference. Italy is joining the ranks of Canada, Israel and the United States. Holland will be joining their ranks soon.
Now will France, Germany and Great Britain join in the boycott? Will they have the moral courage to do the right thing? Or will they give in to the pressure from their Muslim communities, and join in the anti-Semitic rhetoric that this conference has become? I hope that they will join the groundswell and boycott the Durban II conference.