September 4, 2001
Agudath Israel letter to the President and
Secretary of State regarding Durban
September 4, 2001
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish
organization, I write to express both our admiration and our
for the strong stance you have taken in regard to United States
participation at the U.N.'s World Conference Against Racism, currently
taking place in Durban. The decision to withdraw our country's
was a bold and courageous step, and deserves the congratulations and
of our entire nation.
It is tragic - and sadly ironic - that a forum intended to discuss the
eradication of racism could itself become so infused with hatred and
bigotry. The proposed language of the final conference declaration, as
as the atmosphere and rhetoric of the entire proceedings, revealed the
venomous anti-Israel and anti-Semitic designs of those who saw the event
simply as a vehicle to castigate the Jewish State and the Jewish people.
The United States, and the entire world, can only be deeply disheartened
the fact that what could have been an opportunity to address some of the
international community's most pressing problems was deliberately turned
into nothing more than a sham, a deception which essentially doomed the
proceedings to irrelevance.
Mr. President, some have argued that an American presence at the
would have conveyed some symbolic message as to the evils of racism.
the truth is that your decision to bring the United States delegation
sent an even louder, an even clearer, message to the nations of the
When it became obvious that the conference had been hijacked by hate, it
surrendered its role and its mission - and any promise of fruitful
and resolution. American leadership was indeed needed - to show that our nation would have no part in this charade of "combating racism" while legitimizing animus and slander against a single nation and people.
We again thank you for that leadership and, through your actions in Durban, for upholding this nation's most cherished ideals.
Rabbi Shmuel Bloom
Executive Vice President
Director and Counsel, Washington Office
cc: The Honorable Colin Powell