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Canadian Jews support the Durban Review

April 9, 2009

As Canadian Jews, we support and will attend the Durban Review of the World Conference Against Racism in Geneva, April 20-24. We do so because we are concerned about all expressions of racism. Unfortunately, there are Zionist and pro-Israeli groups coming to Geneva on April 20, working to derail this crucially important conference in the name of observing the Holocaust

For us, the holocaust legacy "Never again" means never again for all peoples. It is a tragic turn of history that the State of Israel, which espouses ideals of democracy and portrays itself as a safe haven for Jews, causes immeasurable suffering and injustice to the Palestinian people. Ironically, the result is less and less security for the people of Israel.

We are appalled by attempts on the part of prominent Jewish organizations and Canadian politicians to silence protest against the State of Israel. We are alarmed by their escalating use of intimidation and fear tactics. These efforts are designed to deflect attention from Israelâ' flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.

Israel's stance cannot be characterized as defensive. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, receiving the equivalent of $3 million per day. Israel has the fourth strongest army in the world. Even before its invasion of Gaza on 27 December 2008, Israel's siege had already created a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, causing severe impoverishment, malnutrition, and destroyed infrastructure. It is crucial that forums like the Durban Review process be able to hold Israel accountable to the international community for what are widely considered war crimes without being tagged with specious claims of anti-Semitism.

We recognize that anti-Jewish racism is a reality in Canada and elsewhere. We are committed to resisting any act of hatred against Jews. At the same time, however, we must condemn the laying of false charges of anti-Semitism against people who are exercising their democratic right to freedom of speech and association by criticizing the State of Israel.

Contrary to what its critics allege, the Durban Review offers a fitting forum in which to honour those who died in the Holocaust. At the Durban Review, nearly all of the nations of the earth will gather to affirm their commitment to implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, with its ambitious and admirable mandate to "end racism in all its forms."

The 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action is more than 60 pages long. The following is a comprehensive list of all of the items from that Declaration relevant to Israel and Palestine. All of them are scrupulously respectful of Jews and Judaism.

We recall that the Holocaust must never be forgotten.

We recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities.

We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion.

We recognize the right of refugees to return voluntarily to their homes and properties in dignity and safety, and urge all States to facilitate such return.

We condemn the persistence and resugence of neo-Nazism, neo-fascism and violent nationalist ideologies based on racial or national prejudice, and state that these phenomena can never be justified in any instance or under any circumstances.

As for the situation in the Middle East, we call for the end of violence and the swift resumption of negotiations, respect forinternational human rights and humanitarian law, respect for the principle of self-determination and the end of all suffering, thus allowing Israel and the Palestinians to resume the peace process, and to develop and prosper in security and freedom.

Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) condemns the Israel Lobby for attempting to derail the World Conference Against Racism and the Durban Review. We strongly object to the attempt by leading apologists for Israel's war crimes and violations of humanitarian law to discredit the Durban Review Conference and we condemn the Canadian government for colluding with them by refusing to participate in the Durban Review.

As Canadian Jews, we stand in solidarity with all of the world's victims of racism.


For more information contact:
Diana Ralph
Independent Jewish Voices NGO delegates to the Durban Review of the World Conference Against Racism
Phone: 613-321-2765

Fabienne Presentey
Independent Jewish Voices NGO delegates to the Durban Review of the World Conference Against Racism
Phone: 514-509-6829

Sid Shniad
Independent Jewish Voices NGO delegates to the Durban Review of the World Conference Against Racism
Phone: 604-314-5589

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