So here I am. My first blog in Warsaw during an 8 hour layover at a Polish Internet Cafe with clubbing music in the background when I would otherwise be asleep in my bed in my apartment at 4:19am on a Sunday morning. For those of you who don't know, I am on my way to Geneva, Switzerland to take part and be witness to the UN Durban Review Conference which "will evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001." For more official info, here is the UN's official site: http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/.
And am I nervous. With the last conference where the United States and Israel walked out in disgust and where for the first time in UN history, the governmental body could not accept the NGO's virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-Western document that did not recognize basic rights of gays and women around the world, eight years later, the world has witnessed: September 11th, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorist attacks in every corner of the globe from Spain to Mumbai, and not to mention the intensified, politicized Israel-Palestinian conflict with intifadas, the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the changing of leadership on both sides (remember Hamas was chosen by the Palestinian people), the Lebanon War, etc.
But what is important to remember is the purpose of this conference. It is NOT a political one. It is to address racism around the world. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is blatantly not a racial one. It is a political conflict between two peoples vying for national claims.
I don't know exactly what to expect with guests such as the most infamous Holocaust denier, Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which is a mockery of this conference on racism, as well as one of the most famous Holocaust survivors and a personal hero, Elie Wiesel.
I can't even say what my role will be. Just know that I will keep this blog updated and honest. I will discuss my personal experiences (I anticipate learning a lot) as well as the climate of the conference as a whole. The United States, Israel, Canada, Italy, and Australia have already refused to take part in this conference for very understandable reasons.
I am desperately hoping this conference will not be a repeat of the last. And I hope issues pertinent to this platform on racism and related human injustices such as the plight of women in Saudi Arabia and in Afghanistan, the genocide in Sudan and its criminalized President, Omar al-Bashir, the persecution of gays in Iran, tragically the list goes on...
Questions? Challenges? Thoughts? Let me know.