President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team have a lot on their plate. The ordinary problems of a presidential transition are exacerbated by the economic crisis, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to these obvious problems, Obama and his administration will face a host of smaller, yet still troubling, problems to deal with once he's sworn in on Jan. 20.
Not least of these is the decision they will have to make about whether the United States will participate in the upcoming United Nations Conference on Racism to be held in Geneva, Switzerland. That conclave is better known by the name "Durban II," since it's a follow-up to the infamous U.N. Durban conference that took place in 2001, which was hijacked by anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist forces, and turned it into a festival of Jew-hatred.
The preparations for Durban II have shown that it is likely to be a repeat of the earlier debacle. Israel and Canada have already wisely decided to boycott it, but others, including some Jewish groups, are hopeful that diplomacy may yet salvage the conference. Given the ingrained bias against Israel in the U.N. and the way anti-Zionism has become a socially acceptable form of Jew-hatred at the world body, we think such optimism is unjustified.
Nevertheless, Obama needs to decide soon what America will do about Durban II. The best option would be to join a boycott of the event. But if the United States does decide to go, our delegation must bring with it more than Obama's popularity. If the rise of a new anti-Semitism is to be nipped in the bud, it will require Washington to make sure our representatives are prepared to condemn the proceedings and walk out if, as is likely, Durban II follows in the footsteps of its predecessor.