‘’Even if we would have preferred a clearer position, especially in light of the position of our neighbours and allies who are boycotting this outrageous conference, it is certainly an intelligent decision that aims to clearly denounce anti-Semitism. Therefore, we are very grateful to all those who heard our call and defended the dignity of our country,” said Yohan Benizri, president of COOJB.
Several western countries have announced that they
The Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations (CCOJB) in Belgium has expressed relief at the Belgian government’s decision not to send ministers to the upcoming Durban IV conference on racism ‘’which has served as a sounding board for anti-Semitism since 2001.’’
The CCOJB had called on Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès not to participate in the conference, scheduled for September 22.
CCOJB president Yohan Benizri said: “This is obviously a very positive development, which contrasts sharply with the Belgian position until now. The absence of any ministerial representation, but even more the reasons that motivated this decision, honor our country.’’
He added: ‘’Even if we would have preferred a clearer position, especially in light of the position of our neighbours and allies who are boycotting this outrageous conference, it is certainly an intelligent decision that aims to clearly denounce anti-Semitism. Therefore, we are very grateful to all those who heard our call and defended the dignity of our country.”
The Belgian diplomacy is examining the possibility of ensuring a presence at the conference, maybe via a diplomat, in order to convey a strong message against racism and anti-Semitism at the upcoming conference.
Michael Freilich, an MP from the opposition N-VA party, deplored what he considers to be “a lack of courage” on the part of the federal government. ”It’s a Belgian-style compromise,” he said. ”Either we think this conference is worthwhile and we send all the ministers, or we think we can’t go and we boycott the conference completely. With the N-VA in power, we would have had a much clearer position.”
Several western countries have announced that they will not participate at all in the Durban IV conference due to its history of antisemitism.
Last week, Italy and Croatia joined twelve other countries in boycotting the event marking 20 years since the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, due to antisemitism at the conference and anniversary events.
The Durban IV conference is set to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The 2001 Durban Declaration singled out Israel as racist. At the parallel NGO forum, activists disseminated copies of the antisemitic conspiracy theory The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, flyers saying Hitler was right and other materials featuring Jew-hatred.
Other countries boycotting this month’s Durban Conference are Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.