US Boycotts United Nations Racism Meeting

Obama bows out over Israel critique; black caucus upset
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2009 8:10 PM CDT
President Barack Obama pauses during the opening ceremony of the Summit of the Americas on Friday, April 17, 2009 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration will boycott "with regret" a UN conference on racism next week over language in the meeting's final document that could single out Israel for criticism and restrict free speech, the State Department said today. The decision will likely please Jewish groups that lobbied against US participation, but it has upset human rights advocates and some African Americans who wanted Obama to send a delegation.

At issue is an affirmation in the final text of findings from the first World Conference Against Racism, held in South Africa 8 years ago. Although the document no longer likens Zionism to racism—a conclusion that prompted the US and Israel to walk out in 2001—it "singles out one particular conflict and prejudges key issues that can only be resolved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians," a State Department rep said.