— by Katrina Lantos Sweet, daughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (z”l)
As the start of Durban III quickly approaches, I have often thought back to the first Durban conference which degenerated into a global diplomatic pogrom aimed at demonizing the Jewish state of Israel. My father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos, was proud to lead the walkout of the official US delegation from that shameful farce that he referred to as the Durban Debacle. So while much of the world is optimistically celebrating the hoped for dawn of a new “Arab Spring”, this gathering in New York is yet another reminder of the challenges that we continue to face.
Photo (right): Rep. Tom Lantos and his wife, Annette, left the press center at the racism conference in Durban, South Africa. Lantos said the conference was “hijacked by extremist elements.” Associated Press photo by Karel Prinsloo.
More after the jump.
At the Lantos Foundation, we share the hope for a more democratic and progressive future for the Middle East, but the Durban meeting is another sign of concern. We are alarmed at the naïve and dangerous willingness of too many in the West to ignore the appalling and disturbing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric that is spewing forth from many of the new revolutionary leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere. And lest anyone be tempted to dismiss such displays as regrettable but harmless chatter, I would remind you of the violent assault on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo just a few days ago.
I will travel to New York this week armed with the determination to continue fighting against the scourge of anti-Israel sentiment that will surely be on display. As a child of the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, I will focus on continuing my father’s legacy of standing up to the ever present danger of hatred and anti-Semitism.