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U.S. to Boycott U.N. Racism Conference

In a simple decision to skip a meeting, the Obama administration has made several powerful statements on its positions on Israel, international race relations, and diplomacy. The State Department announced Saturday that, "with regret," it will be boycotting the United Nations' conference on racism next week due to fears that the meeting's pre-established agenda will unfairly damage Israel and free speech. The meeting's text contains implied support for speech restrictions and the findings of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism—a conference that Israeli and American envoys walked out on to protest an attempt to liken Zionism to racism. Obama's administration's boycott of the U.N. meeting signals that it will stick to the Bush administration's ideological foothold when it comes to race relations and Israel. American officials were reportedly considering attending the conference until the announcement that Iran's Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would attend. Though the U.N. boycott is likely to please pro-Israel and Jewish groups in the U.S., human rights organizations and members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged the U.S. to attend and will likely be disappointed.