Durban II: Stop Reading Between the Lines

It is not worth responding to most of the predictable, simple minded attacks of some Republicans, but this one is too good to pass up.

This week, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) attacked President Barack Obama for "flip-flopping" on U.S. participation at the U.N. Conference on Racism in Geneva (Durban II). But the RJC seems to be confused and does not let truth stand in the way of a political attack.

The truth is that the Obama administration has a very clear policy toward Durban II and hasn't changed it since their policy was announced in February. It seems that in their odd and desperate attempts to prove that Obama is somehow anti-Israel, Republicans overlooked the facts once again.

The Jewish community is not buying RJC's patently ridiculous claims. In a piece titled, "Consistency, not flip-flopping, on Durban," JTA took RJC to task:

The headline on the Republican Jewish Coalition's press release today [April 14, 2009] calls on President Obama to stop the "equivocating and flip-flopping" on the Durban II conference, and the release expresses concern that the president might "renege" on his promised boycott of the conference. But the Obama administration hasn't actually flip-flopped on its position regarding the conference -- and always left open a possibility that it might attend the gathering next week in Geneva.

The facts of the matter are straightforward. If Republicans would bother to compare the State Department's most recent statement on the situation to the statement made on February 27th, they would see how ludicrous their attacks are. JTA agrees and notes that, "[T]he State Department statement doesn't indicate any change in position, but is merely reporting what progress has been made on meeting the conditions that it initially laid out for participating in the conference -- after pulling out of pre-Durban II meetings in late February."

Unwarranted criticisms are nothing new for Obama's right wing critics. Before the President even had an opportunity to announce its Durban II policy, as NJDC has previously noted, the administration's die-hard foes could not wait to attack.

Ira N. Forman, NJDC Executive Director, captured the situation perfectly in his March 3rd post:

As soon as the administration took its first moves to try to salvage the conference, they pounced. It was not just the knee-jerk Republican organizations who screamed that the President's actions represented an "extremely disturbing change in American foreign policy regarding Israel." One commentator at National Review online stated, "What is new is that the new president of the United States doesn't care about the U.N.'s reincarnation of 'Zionism is racism.'" At the rabidly right-wing American Thinker web site, we were told, "Well, file this info in the 'this was predictable' column." The article went on to breathlessly report that the U.S. would attend Durban II. Richard Heideman, a Republican-leaning Jewish activist, predicted, "the chances that U.S. President Barack Obama will boycott a conference against racism are slim....because that's his mindset."

Unfortunately, the Republican playbook of attacks against our president always remains predictable and simple-minded. Especially in the Jewish community, Obama's right-wing critics are so consumed with ideological combat that "positive policy outcomes take a back seat to scoring partisan points." Instead of trying to read between the lines and enhance the coffers of their groups, right wing groups, like the RJC, should be commending President Obama for his policy on Durban, not waging misleading attacks.

Crossposted on NJDC's blog.