UK urged to stay away from ‘anti-Jewish’ Durban conference by community leaders

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UK urged to stay away from ‘anti-Jewish’ Durban conference by community leaders

Board of Deputies and JLC say it would be a signal that Britain ‘takes a firm stand against anti-Jewish racism’

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

United Nations Headquarters
United Nations Headquarters

Jewish leaders in Britain have called on the UK government to follow other countries in boycotting the anniversary of an anti-racism conference because its legacy criticising Israel.

Australia, Canada and the United States have all withdrawn from plans to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Process, named after the South African city where the first conference was held.

The 2001 event was marred by antisemitic comments from some participants, while a number of countries attempted to equate Zionism with racism, prompting the US and Israel to stage a walkout.

The countries have kept away from subsequent conferences, although Britain was represented at some.

Writing to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Friday, the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies urged him to confirm the UK will stay away.

“The event due to take place later this year is the latest in this series of events based on a legacy of open antisemitism,” they said.

“This one-day event is not a serious attempt to defeat racism internationally but a commemoration of a supposedly anti-racism conference which itself was antisemitic.”

Their letter said the reasons for the UK staying away from commemorations for the 10th anniversary of the Durban Process in 2011 “remain true”.

It added: “we are seeking confirmation that the UK will not dignify this year’s commemoration with its attendance. This will be a signal that the Government takes a firm stand against anti-Jewish racism.”

The Foreign, Commenwealth and Development Office has been approached for comment.

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