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UN commemorates controversial Durban conference; 34 countries boycott event

South Africa's President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a prerecorded address during a meeting to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Durban conference, as part of the UN General Assembly 76th session General Debate at the United Nations Headquarters, on September 22, 2021, in New York. (Justine Lane/Pool/AFP)
South Africa's President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a prerecorded address during a meeting to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Durban conference, as part of the UN General Assembly 76th session General Debate at the United Nations Headquarters, on September 22, 2021, in New York. (Justine Lane/Pool/AFP)

World leaders at the UN General Assembly commemorate the 20th anniversary of the controversial UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, which was accused of veering into open antisemitism.

The US and Israel walked out during the meeting over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism to racism — a provision that was eventually dropped.

A total of 34 countries are boycotting this year’s event, according to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

“The original Durban Conference, a UN-hosted event, became the worst international manifestation of antisemitism since WWII,” The Foreign Ministry says in a statement. “The ‘World Conference on Racism’ actually ended up encouraging it, including through the parallel NGO forum, which displayed caricatures of Jews with hooked noses and fangs dripping with blood, clutching money.”

The ministry adds: “20 years later, some of the same organizations have waged a BDS campaign against the only democracy in the Middle East, but they have FAILED.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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