ADC Pleased that UN World Racism Conference Continues to Examine Israel’s Racism
WASHINGTON, DC — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today expressed deep disappointment that the United State has withdrawn its representatives from the United Nations World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa in an effort to shield Israel from international scrutiny of its discrimination against Palestinians. ADC was gratified, however, that the Conference as a whole was not deterred from examining the issue, and continues to accord it the importance it clearly deserves. ADC has strongly suggested that the issue not be framed in a discussion of the nature of Zionism, but focus instead on a specific analysis of the extraordinary systems of discrimination which the Israeli state practices against the Palestinians. Such as focus is reflected in much of the language remaining in the draft final communique.
ADC President Ziad Asali said “we are disappointed that Secretary of State Powell withdrew our nation’s representatives from this important meeting simply because the international community is determined to discuss Israel’s abuses against the Palestinian people. There is no way in which the world could be expected to turn a blind eye to Israel’s racism, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories, which is the most egregious system of discrimination in the world today. This pull-out only shows how distant the views of the Bush Administration are from those of the rest of the world on this issue. But even given that disagreement, it is unfortunate that a nation as powerful as the United States was simply unwilling to have an honest, open conversation with the international community on these vital issues.”
In the run-up to the Conference, and in its efforts to convince the Bush Administration to participate fully in it, ADC has pointed out that all Israeli governments have been unwilling to grant any group of Palestinians, whether they are citizens of Israel, the three million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation or refugees, equal legal rights. ADC has emphasized that every aspect of life in the occupied territories–East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza–depends on one’s ethnicity: Where one can live, the roads on which one may drive, freedom of movement, access to education, the right to bear arms in self-defense, land and water use, and the entire range of social services all are administered in favor of Jews by Israel in a manner at least as discriminatory as that of apartheid-era South Africa.
ADC has also pointed out that Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated as second-class citizens and that Israel also practices racial discrimination against the Palestinian refugees who have been prevented from returning to their homes since 1948 simply because they are not Jewish.