India faces isolation for Zionism stand
New Delhi, Aug. 29: India is likely to be isolated in its opposition to the inclusion of caste-based discrimination in the official agenda of the United Nations conference on racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Arab nations, who had been fairly ambivalent on the issue, have turned against the Indian government position following the sudden decision here to support Israel's protest against the comparison of Zionism to racism in the draft declaration.
ate Zionism with racism at the UN meet with the result that strong references to this have been included in the draft declaration that will be taken up formally at Durban. Their success has led the US to scale down the level of its delegation with US secretary of state Colin Powell having had to back out of attending the UN meet in protest against the language used in the draft. Israel has been particularly strident on this count and a quick visit to Delhi by Prime Minister Shimon Peres' special envoy Y Biran succeeded in eliciting Delhi's support for its position.
In return, the Israelis have promised support to ensure that caste is not brought into the final declaration in any form. This has created considerable anger in the Arab world with the word out that their representatives at Durban should support the NGOs in the bid to get caste recognised as a form of racism. Biran, in what has become customary Israeli diplomacy in this region, was sent to Delhi just after a visit by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Although Arafat came for Indian support for his cause and his people's longstanding struggle against the Israelis, Biran succeeded in extracting support for the UN agenda.