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Press Releases
September 4, 2001

Agudath Israel letter to the President and
Secretary of State regarding Durban

September 4, 2001

The President
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 appreciation 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 delegation was a bold and courageous step, and deserves the congratulations and praise 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 well 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 by 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 conference would have conveyed some symbolic message as to the evils of racism. But the truth is that your decision to bring the United States delegation home sent an even louder, an even clearer, message to the nations of the world. When it became obvious that the conference had been hijacked by hate, it surrendered its role and its mission - and any promise of fruitful dialogue 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.

Sincerely yours,

Rabbi Shmuel Bloom
Executive Vice President

Abba Cohen
Director and Counsel, Washington Office

cc: The Honorable Colin Powell

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