- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

The suddenly acute focus on what Secretary of State Colin L. Powell correctly calls the "hateful language" of the United Nations' splendiferously if erroneously named World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, offers a perhaps fleeting opportunity for eye-opening instruction.
It's not only, as Mr. Powell put it this week in announcing the Bush administration's dramatic decision to walk out on the conference, that "You do not combat racism … that singles out only one country in the world, Israel, for censure and abuse." This, of course, is patently true and patently obvious as a conference ploy since the official agenda was set in a final preparatory session in Geneva. But there is more to learn from the U.N.-sanctioned Arab animus against Israel, reprised in all its ugliness for the Durban gathering.
With its spectacularly slanderous declarations that Zionism is racism and that Israel is a land of a new apartheid guilty, in the words of one conference report, of "racist crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing" the Durban conference has at least momentarily shocked the Western world. Indeed, it looks as if even France will exit the conference in a huff.
"Wherever one looks," writes Italian journalist Fiamma Nirenstein in this month's Commentary, "from Cairo and Gaza to Damascus and Baghdad, from political and religious figures to writers and educators, from lawyers to pop stars, and in every organ of the media, the very people with whom the state of Israel is expected to live in peace have devoted themselves with ever greater ingenuity to slandering and demonizing the Jewish state, the Jewish people, and Judaism itself and calling openly for their annihilation." After reading the chilling examples included in Miss Nirenstein's article, provocatively titled, "How Suicide Bombers Are Made," the Durban draft declaration seems almost kindly by comparison.
Miss Nirenstein reports on a culture drenched with indeed, sustained by a rancorous animosity for Israel. Students from Syria to Gaza learn a rationale for Israel's "extermination" and their own "martyrdom." Newspaper readers from Egypt to Jordan regularly read about how Israel is "worse than the Nazis." Speaking of the Nazis, Holocaust denial has become as much a part of Arab mythology as Scheherazade. Newspaper colonists and academics throughout the Arab world regularly rewrite Holocaust history as a Jewish "lie" and "international marketing" tool. Amid this perverted context, innumerable outrages, such as an Egyptian columnist's expression of "thanks to Hitler, of blessed memory, who on behalf of the Palestinians took revenge in advance on the most vile criminals on the face of the earth," begin to make their own twisted sense.
Miss Nirenstein goes on to make a shrewd, if chilling, point. The relentless vilification of Israel can serve no peace, actual or possible. On the contrary, she writes, there can be no Arab accommodation of a people depicted as "nothing but murderers of children, instruments of world conspiracy, sworn enemies of religious and historical truth, and perfecters of Nazi brutality." Such rhetoric caught the world's attention this week. It is vital that it be understood for what it is.


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