The Statement of His Excellency

Mr. Farouk al Shara

Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Syrian Arab Republic

At the Conference on

Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and all kinds of Intolerance

Durban August 31-Sept. 7, 2001.

September 2, 2001


Madam President,

May I congratulate you for chairing this important conference and convey to you, and through you, to President Nelson Mandela, the symbol of fighting against racism, and to the friendly people of South Africa, the warmest regards of President Bashar al Assad, the President of Syria and his best wishes for the success of this conference.

There is no doubt that one of the most important contributions to the success of this conference is the fact that it has been convened in this country, whose people were able, through a very long struggle, immense sacrifices, the support of their African brothers and the solidarity of the world, to crush one of the most atrocious citadels of racism, both in Africa and the world at large.

Allow me, in this context, to indicate here that my country, Syria, Arabs and Muslims, have stood firmly with the struggle waged by the people of South Africa, sincerely expressed solidarity with them and boycotted their enemies without the slightest hesitation or reservations for two essential reasons:
First: because racism is one of the most dangerous social evils as it combines in its layers the substance of all evils in the world: a blind fanatic mind that may transform itself in a scientific fashion, or at random, under the eyes of the entire world to practices that are more horrid and appalling than anything witnessed by human beings.

Second: Because the resistance of our people to racism has ancient historic and cultural roots which might not be widely known. In the sixth century A.D. for example the virtuous people in Mecca, at the heart of the Arab peninsula, agreed not to leave any person of the residents in Mecca or the new comers to it suffer from injustice without supporting him until the injustice is eradicated. Later on, Prophet Muhammad blessed this ethic that is in harmony with the sanctified Islamic teachings.

Many contemporary historians have registered with admiration, not shorn of surprise, the human and religious diversity in Syria (Belad al Sham) as many of the oppressed people, both in the close and distant neighborhood found a generous and secure haven in it, so they lived, and are still living, as Syrian citizens, who enjoy equality in both rights and duties.

But the history of Arabs and Africans, in particular, and that of the Third World in general, is neither objective nor accurate, because most historians do not belong to their culture or heritage. Therefore both writer and reader, on both sides of the globe, often forget or marginalize the grave injustices from which those people have suffered. That is why the suffering of two thirds of the world's population, which, in some cases, were beyond the human capacity to bear, seemed as if they were third degree sufferings.

The most serious danger facing the peoples of the Middle East is the racist Israeli practices, particularly if the Israelis believe that the killing of Palestinians and the perpetration of massacres against them, beginning with Dier Yassin in 1948, and ending up with hunting children, shooting them at random and killing them and assassinating Palestinian leaders selectively, may all continue without accountability. The Israelis will also be wrong to believe that they can continue for long in behaving as though they are above the law and international legitimacy, ignoring what the Arabs have of resolve and belief in justice and equality among people, added to a human culture that never resigns itself to subjugation or humiliation.

Circumstances, times and rules have changed. Most peoples of the world have been liberated from colonialism. Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa have gotten rid of Racism, of which Zionist Israel was the closest ally. Hence the world no longer accepts occupation, colonization and racism. Only Israel, the last bastion of racism, has failed to recognize this very fact.

One does not need research and studies in order to get to know the racist manifestations in Israel, because racism in Israel has never been merely a matter of intentions, rather it has always been, right from the beginning until today, practices that are governed by racist laws and legislations such as the law of return for the year 1950, the law of the properties of the absentees for the year 1950, the law of national fund for the year 1953, the law of urban planning for the year 1965 and many others.

If these racial practices were to continue they are going to make the idea of peace with the Arabs unattainable. The rulers of Israel want to combine the strangest anomalies in history: They want security with the continuation of occupation, and they want a pure Jewish state with the land but without Palestinians and, yet, they reject the right of Palestinians to establish their independent state on their occupied Palestinian territory.

Hence the Israeli occupation forces demolish the houses of Palestinians under the pretext that these houses are not licensed, and in the mean time, they facilitate the building of settlements for Jews coming from the furthest point on earth and grant them licenses and financial assistance in order to build on occupied Palestinian territory. Yet, despite all this, the Israelis are very keen to appear in the world media as victims attracting sympathy and, in the mean time, they would like to appear as heroes who deserve admiration because when they shoot Palestinian children they boast that they accurately hit their targets.

The strangest irony in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is that Israel claims that the return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with United Nations resolution 194 means the end of Israel, as a state, whereas the return of Palestinian refugees will only mean the end of racism in Israel.

Madam President,

The United States has exerted pressure for the last few months so that the final declaration of this conference omits the request of Africans for reparations for the period of slavery as well as the phrase equating Zionism with Racism. But the interesting fact is that these attempts to cross out these requests have made them more widely known and have made their substance clearer for public opinion to the extent that it is only a matter of time before the issue of reparations will be resolved and that the substance of resolution 3379 that equated Racism with Zionism has become more popular today than it had been in 1975.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite all what we have heard and seen of different forms of injustice, oppression and aggression in more than one place in the world, let's look forward to a future in which justice will triumph over injustice and equality over oppression, a bright future for all human beings without racial discrimination of any sort.

I thank you all.