- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

On Nov. 10, 1975, the U.N. General Assembly passed by a more than 2-to-1 vote Resolution 3379 which condemned Zionism as (1) "racism" (2) as "a form of racial discrimination" and (3) as "a threat to world peace and security." Daniel P. Moynihan, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, described the U.N. action in these words: "A great evil has been loosed upon the world …The United States … does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act."

Sixteen years later on Dec. 16, 1991, the resolution was rescinded by a heavy majority. But the U.N. paid a price for that 1975 resolution. As David Malone, former Canadian ambassador to the U.N., said: "No single measure adopted by the U.N. has done the institution more damage than the 'Zionism-is-racism' resolution." Those who pressed for Resolution 3379 are about to do it again.

On Aug. 31, the United Nations will open in Durban, South Africa, a one-week session with this electrifying title: "World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance." (Short title: WCAR). But this conference promises to be just as depressing as two earlier U.N. conferences in 1978 and 1983 which the United States ignored, since their primary raison d'etre, as far as Arabdom and its allies were concerned, was how to crush Israel. These are the same U.N. member countries who recently voted the United States off the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, leaving behind as commission members, among others, Algeria, Burundi, Cuba, Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Led by representatives of Middle East countries, attempts in U.N. preparatory meetings are already under way to revive in a different form Resolution 3379, the Zionism/racism resolution. There are also attempts to bar from conference documentation and agenda any reference to anti-Semitism as an example of intolerance. For the U.N. conference to condemn anti-Semitism would, of course, mean condemning Arab media and school textbooks, which day after day publish the kind of anti-Semitic libels that would make Josef Goebbels proud.

Apart from the Israeli issue, there will be other complications to preoccupy and frustrate the WCAR delegations. Will India allow "caste," with its stigmatized untouchables, numbering perhaps 150 million people, to be considered as racism or "related intolerance"? The African delegations have already prepared what they call a "Declaration of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery as a Crime Against Humanity." The declaration's geographical restriction excludes, of course, Arab countries which had pioneered in the African slave trade for centuries long before the Founding Fathers began to worry about man's inhumanity to man.

The target of the declaration is Europe and the United States, whose existing governments will be asked to pay reparations to whom is not quite clear. Whether consideration will be given by the declaration sponsors to the billions of dollars paid out to African countries by the United States, and by onetime colonial countries like Britain, Germany, France, Belgium and Holland as development investments or as humanitarian relief efforts is doubtful.

The WCAR organizers hope to establish acceptable international standards for racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. It will be interesting to see whether China's imperialist conquest of Tibet and its attempt to turn Tibetans into a dwindling minority by forced immigration of Chinese settlers into Tibet would be included in a definition of racism or xenophobia. Will Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe's war against white farmers come under WCAR scrutiny let alone criticism? Will race-related refugee crises or discrimination against people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean get on the agenda?

A preparatory committee will meet in Geneva from July 30 to Aug. 10 to negotiate a final draft declaration and program of action. What emerges from that meeting will indicate whether WCAR will be a slugfest or a love-in. My bet is a slugfest.


Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution fellow and a former U.N. correspondent, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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