- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2001

DURBAN, South Africa — As the U.N. racism conference drew to a close, legions of victims' groups, ranging from the untouchables of India to the Turkish immigrants in Germany, fumed.
Arab delegations had stolen the spotlight with a campaign to brand Israel as racist, relegating other causes and grievances to little more than footnotes.
The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances had been slated to conclude last night with governments adopting far-reaching agreements to battle intolerance.
Instead, diplomats spent the day resolving a dispute between the Arabs and Europe over how far to go in censuring Israel, again without success.
Both disputes set up the conference for a lackluster ending today and left many participants preparing to return home both exhausted and disappointed.
Arturo Sanchez came here from Mexico to alert nations to the daily indignities faced by youth, particularly those who are "multiple minorities" such as young, black, poor and homosexual.
But he said his youth group had a hard time. "The governments aren't seeing us as a priority, because we are not Palestinian," he said.
Turkish-born Memet Kilic, who has suffered social and economic discrimination for the 11 years he has lived in Germany, appealed for migrant rights and recognition.
With the Middle East dominating the agenda, "we're all in their shadow at the conference, and it's not OK."
Jyothi Raj hasn't eaten since Thursday morning, and says her hunger strike will continue until the Indian government agrees to recognize the Dalits, or "untouchables," as victims of racism.
She said the disputes over the Middle East and the slave trade were distracting. But she found solace in having earned at least a mention in the conference document.
"Getting into the document gives us legal identity," she said. "It is a promise by the United Nations, and you can go to them for help. If you are not in the document, you have nowhere to go."
European negotiators agreed to a compromise over an apology for slavery yesterday, but the U.N. conference on racism remained deadlocked over the Middle East conflict and reparations for slavery.
The anti-Israel tilt of the conference proved too much for the United States, which walked out of the conference early in the week, followed by Israel.
A half-dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus came to Durban to press for a study of slavery reparations, and to seek an apology for slavery in the strongest language possible.
They declared themselves exasperated and left early.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson stayed behind with television cameras following his every move. Yesterday, he took another shot at the United States for its early departure.
"The United States has been leading from behind," he said. "This administration should be here. They should be showing commitment to issues besides the Middle East."


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