Jewish Letter to the German Government

AsJews committed to confronting racism, we regret that the Simon WiesenthalCenter is on the wrong side of justice yet again: It has demanded that Germanywithdraw from the international meeting scheduledSeptember 22, 2011, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of theDurban Declaration and Programme of Action on Racism (Durban Review).  The Simon WiesenthalCenter is using its clout and undeserved reputation to whitewash Palestiniandispossession and provide cover for racism and apartheid.

We urge the government of Germany topursue its obligation to stop the racism of today and redress the injustices ofyesterday by re-committing to its participation in the Durban Review.

TheDurban Review process seeks todevelop mechanisms for confronting systemic racism internationally. This is deeply needed because we continue to live in a worldthat is built on theexploitation of labor and the theftof land and resources, primarily thoseof indigenous people and people of the Global South. The Durban Declaration and Program of Actionspotlights legacies of racism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, apartheid andxenophobia, and calls attention to the need for reparations in order to redress these injustices-not merely to end them.

What the Durban Process embodies is a crucial step towards overcoming racism and creating accountability for these crimes. The victims of racistoppression, displacement, and persecution are innumerable: descendants ofslaves on both sides of the Atlantic, descendants of survivors of the genocideof indigenous people of the Americas, ongoing victims of resource confiscationand labor exploitation from Congo to India to Haiti, as well as Palestiniansfacing land confiscation, ethnic cleansing, colonial domination, and apartheid.

Throughelaborate, well-funded campaignsof misinformation, the US, Israel and European states are accusing proponents of the Durban Process ofantisemitism as a means of avoiding thecrucial issues that it has raised, not only for Israel, but also for theUnited States and other countries whose wealth is built on stolen land andlabor and in which racism is still rampant. Thus, for example, it was notsurprising to find among the list ofcountries withdrawingfrom the Durban Review Conference the Czech Republic, whose government usesfeigned concern over antisemitism to avoid the attention that the Durban process has focused on its racist persecution of the Roma.

By makingfalse claims about what the Durban declaration says about Israel, thewell-orchestrated campaign against the Durban Review is pushing to weaken and, if possible, derail the processentirely, hoping to drive a wedge between the Palestinian struggle and those of other victims of racism.

The SimonWiesenthal Center’s letter underscores the fact that this organization has never been consistentlycommitted to combating racism. In addition to fanning Islamophobia by opposingthe Park 51 Muslim community center in LowerManhattan, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is building what it calls a Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem atop a Muslimgraveyard. When completed, the museumwill literally cover up vitallyimportant aspects of Palestinian existence and history in that city. In 2006, the SimonWiesenthal Center leveled falseaccusations of antisemitism at the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, prompting a sharp rebuttal from the Jewish community there. It is unsurprising that theWiesenthal Center would now also defend the perpetrators and enablers of racismby encouraging them to not attend the Durban Review.

AsJames Baldwin wrote to Angela Davis while she sat in prison, "If they come foryou in the morning, they’ll come for me at night." If they came for us 70 yearsago, they can come for you today. If they come for you today, they can come forothers of us 70 years from now. Theonly principled, effective defense against racism is one that insists oncombatting it through resolute action.

Wefeel betrayed by the exploitation of the memory of the millions of Jews, Roma,gays and lesbians, Poles, Communists, trade unionists, people with disabilitiesand others who died in the Nazi genocide and whose tragedies are being misused against today’s victimsof racism, including Palestinians, African Americans, Indigenous peoples,immigrants and so many others. We are outraged by those who would manipulate that history to prevent Germany fromassuming its responsibility andaccounting for a devastating history of racism and xenophobia, which its participation in the Durban Reviewwould assure.

The Jewishorganizations below urge the German government to not succumb the pressure ofspecial interest groups like the Simon Wiesenthal Center. We urge you to commityour participation in the Durban Review:

En NuestroNombre No (Argentina)

The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Jewish Voice for Peace (USA)

Jews for a Just Peace(Fredericton, Canada)

Kritische Jüdische Stimme(Österreich) – Critical Jewish Voice (Austria)

Not in Out Name(NION): Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism (Toronto, Canada)

St. LouisWomen in Black (USA)

Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)

Hajo G. Meyer PhD, Nazi Holocaust survivor (The Netherlands)

Hedy Epstein, NaziHolocaust survivor (USA)

Kamal Chenoy, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi,and Vice President, All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation (India)

Moshé Machover, Professor (emeritus) (UK), founder Matzpen

PaolaCanarutto (Italy)

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