News Release

Racism Conference


Debate is now raging about the agenda for the World Conference Against Racism that begins in Durban, South Africa at the end of this month. The following analysts, most of whom will attend, are available for interviews:
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Executive director and founder of the National Center for Human Rights Education, Ross said today: “The U.S. government is resisting calling slavery a crime against humanity because that would raise the subject of reparations. Most reasonable people would consider slavery and Native American genocide to be crimes against humanity. The U.S. government has argued that a crime against humanity should not be condemned retroactively — but that’s exactly what the Nuremberg trials did. One suggestion going into the World Conference Against Racism is that the U.S. government address the crime of slavery by canceling the debt of the heavily indebted countries of Africa. This could be combined with economic development of African American communities.”

Director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland and author of The Price: Race and Reconciliation in South Africa and the United States, Walters said today: “Ari Fleischer, George Bush’s spokesman, recently said that the Bush administration had decided not to send a delegation to Durban to attend the conference if the agenda contained the issue of reparations. This position does not represent the interests of black Americans, who largely support reparations by 65 percent…. Bush is playing a kind of racial politics. Whether or not the issue of reparations is on the formal agenda in Durban, it will be discussed in my presentation and many others…. If the impact of the U.S. being at the conference is to weaken any statement that comes out of the conference, then it is best for the U.S. government not to go.”
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Communications director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Ibish said today: “The simplistic formula that ‘Zionism is a form of racism’ not only inhibits dialogue between Arabs and Jews, it serves as a sloppy catch-all for Israel’s elaborate systems of racial discrimination. We need instead to be specific. Every element of life in the occupied territories depends on whether or not one is Jewish: the laws under which one is governed, one’s right to vote, where one can live, the roads on which one may drive, access to education, the right to bear arms, torture, water and land use, etc. Inside Israel, although Palestinian citizens can vote…discrimination renders them third-class citizens. Finally, Israel grants any Jewish person from anywhere in the world automatic citizenship, but Palestinian refugees have been prevented from returning to their own homes since 1948 simply because they are not Jewish. Thus the racist practices of Israel simply cannot be excluded in Durban without rendering the entire conference a travesty.”
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A member of the December 12 Movement and a longtime observer of the UN, Wareham said today: “The Durban conference is in some ways the manifestation of what Malcolm X said about racial oppression in the U.S. being a matter not of civil rights, but of human rights that should be brought before the UN…. The UN held two conferences on racism, in 1978 and 1983. To assuage Western opposition, the scope of this conference was expanded to include xenophobia and related intolerance. Even with this broadened mandate, the U.S. was the last country to agree to hold the WCAR. Manifestations of racism continue in the U.S.: segregation in housing and education, disparate rates of incarceration, mistreatment in the criminal justice system, lower quality of health care….”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167