THE DURBAN CONFERENCE
Massoud Shadjareh, Chairman
Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
7 October 2001
IHRC sent a team to attend the UN World Conference
Against Racism in Durban (Aug-Sept 2001). Three out of the team
of twelve were anti-zionist Orthodox Rabbis from the Neuteri Karta.
In this lecture Massoud Shadjareh describes what happened and how
the NGO conference managed to achieve its historic declaration condemning
zionism as racism and Israel for genocide, resulting in a US/Israel
walkout. The lecture is in two parts (to accommodate prayer time
in between), each part is about 25 minutes long.
Rabbi Mordecai Weberman (R) and Massoud Shadjareh
IHRC team at a press-conference
"We were standing with the Rabbis with
placards, each holding the others shoulders and walking through
the NGO campus and saying that we have come united shoulder to
shoulder united against zionism.
We were giving 30-35 interviews a day... And
the message we were giving was very clear, both ourselves and
the Rabbis were giving the same exact message:
We were saying that the way you got rid of
apartheid and black and white could start living together, if
you get rid of zionism then we have no problem living together
either here or anywhere else, we don't have anything inherently
against each other, we have lived together for generations in
the past and there is no reason why we cannot live for generations
together in the future, but its the evil of zionism which is actually
The Rabbis were giving talks on that, we were
giving talks on that. Every single night we didn't get to our
home and able to go to bed before 12:30 - 1:30 because we were
giving talks all everywhere...
And I think in many ways this was the turning
point in the whole conference because the one thing we went down
there to remove is the fear that the minute you stand against
zionism you are going to be accused of being anti-Semitic and
we wanted to remove this fear and we felt if we remove this fear
and expose this then ordinary NGOs will stand up on the right
side and this is exactly what happened...
The NGO declaration included : zionism is racism,
Israel is an apartheid state, and Israel has committed 'genocide'...
At this point the Americans and Israelis decided its too much
for them and got up and left..."
50,000 people in Durban demonstrate against zionism
Photos of Muslims and Jews united against zionism
appeared all around the world.
South Africans demonstrating against racist Israel
"There were many press conferences and
interview that we took with the Rabbis, on one of those occasions
they asked the Rabbi:
What is the solution for Palestine?, he replied
- the total dismantlement of the state of Israel and every inch
of land to be given back to the Palestinians,
and the reporter said how can you say that,
don't you think they will massacre you?
He said no, we lived together for generations
it was only the zionists that created this conflict between us.
And those hard-core zionists have to leave, they come as trouble
makers, they have to go and I am sure the Palestinians will allow
the rest of us to stay and live with them as they have in the
One of the reporters was being very hostile
and said "these guys are Muslim fundamentalists, they promote
Islamic State, you have come with them - do you also want an Islamic
State in Palestine or in Israel?".
The Rabbi turned around and said "We don't
want to choose any state except that we are saying that it shouldn't
be a Jewish state - it should be a Palestinian state, we don't
want to have a choice - its up to them what sort of state they
want but if its an Islamic State we would prefer it than if its
a secular state.
That annoyed many of the reporters. Afterwards
I was talking to the Rabbi, you said this why? how come?
He said the concept of morality, the concept
of justice, we don't want to live in a secular state.
You know in many way they were like us, for
example going to BBC, CNN giving interviews ladies were coming
to shake hands and the Rabbi was saying no I'm sorry we don't
shake hands with ladies, same as us - we found they were very
similar in many many ways.
We became very good friends to the extent
that when I got back here [England] and two days later this thing
happened [sept-11] in the United States I actually phoned the
Rabbis, because they live in New York, first to find out if they
and their families were fine and then I phoned my own family living
in the States. I was wondering why I called the Rabbis first -
its because we became so close to each other, and really the whole
thing was a testimony that there isn't anything inherently between
us and them, the Jewish community, except those that are zionists"
Rabbi Dovid Feldman, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss
& Massoud Shadjareh
Orthodox Jews and pro-Palestinian supporters
united in a protest march against zionism in Durban, South
Africa, Friday Aug. 31, 2001 to coincide with the opening
of the UN Racism Conference. The series of photographs on
the banner show Mohammed al-Dura, 12, crouching behind his
father Jamal al-Dura with Israeli forces shooting at them
(September 2000). Mohammed was shot dead by the Israelis,
the murder was captured on video. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)
"On one occasion when me and the Rabbi
were giving a talk, the host announced that there is someone special
who is going to come in a few minutes time. The I saw, the brother
came, it was the father of Mohammed al-Dura, the little child
who was shot and killed and he himself was shot and wounded badly.
He came in and gave a very moving talk, and then Rabbi Weiss actually
got up and took the mic by force and said I want you to translate
this for the brother and he said to Jamal al-Dura:
I want to apologise to you, not because we
were involved in the atrocities that were committed against you
and your son but because those that committed these were people
who have gone astray from our religion and have done this in the
name of our religion. I also like to apologise, knowing that my
apology will mean nothing to you in comparison to the atrocities
and things you have had to go through and you have faced but I
still have to do it for my own sanity.
And that was translated - it was really moving,
the two came together and shook hands and they embraced each other
and they hugged each other..."
anti-zionist Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss warmly embraced
zionism is racism
Resources on Durban Conference