NEW YORK (Jul. 9)
The United States voted against the United Nations Conference on Women’s “Declaration of Mexico, 1975” which called for the elimination of Zionism because “we could never accept a resolution that talks about wiping out another nation.” This was stated by Rep. Bella Abzug (D.NY) in an exclusive interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in her New York office. The Congress woman was appointed by House Speaker Carl Albert (D.Okla.) as one of the non-voting Congressional advisors for the U.S. at the conference in Mexico City which ended last week.
The “Declaration,” which only the U.S. and Israel voted against, contained the statement that women should “struggle against colonialism, neo-colonialism, Zionism, racial discrimination and apartheid.” All delegations from other countries voted for or abstained on the resolution which was pushed through committee by the Arab-Soviet bloc-Third World countries, Denmark originally voted with the U.S. and Israel but later decided to change its vote and abstained.
Abzug told the JTA that while the “Declaration” was still in committee Israel made a motion to eliminate the word Zionism from the text but was voted down 59-19 with 19 abstentions. Another motion to eliminate the word came up for a full vote at the general session, but this was also rejected by a vote of 63-25 with 25 abstentions.
The Congresswoman said she advised the women at the conference to vote against the entire “Declaration” if “we were unsuccessful in convincing them to change the language.” But when a motion was made to accept the entire “Declaration” only Israel and the U.S. voted against it, with approximately 18 abstentions, Abzug said.
She stated that “much negotiating” took place before the actual vote occurred to “convince the delegates not to put the word ‘Zionism’ into the ‘Declaration’.” Most of the delegates, she said, particularly those from Western Europe and Latin America, were opposed to the wording. However, many did not vote against the resolution because of what they felt were other positive items in the resolution, including a change in global economics, “Everyone I spoke to felt this should not have happened,” Abzug said.
Although the Congresswoman said she considered the “Declaration” was “totally improper” because of the attack on Zionism, she stressed that it was not a major document and that there were no special plans to implement it. Nevertheless, noting that the terrorist bombing in Jerusalem two days after the conference ended, in which 14 Israelis were killed and 73 wounded, Abzug stated the “Declaration” and similar actions “Perpetuate an atmosphere which encourages terrorism.”
The major plan to come out of the conference was the “World Plan of Action,” a document Abzug said “could be abided by all nations.” She said she felt many of the governments “manipulated” their delegates at the conference. She felt that this was particularly true of the 77-nation Arab-Soviet-Third World bloc where, she said, the status of women is “minimal,” “Many of the governments instructed their delegates how to vote,” Abzug said. “But I feel the women regretted finding themselves in this position. There were many who wanted to deal independently with women’s issues rather than with world political affairs.”
For example, she said that of the women she spoke to at the Tribune, the non-governmental, independent conference on the other side of the city that was being held simultaneously with the official conclave, attended by 5000 “interested” woman, all told her that they would not have walked out on Mrs. Leah Rabin. Abzug was referring to the incident when the Arab-Soviet-Third World delegates walked out of the conference hall when the wife of the Israeli Premier started to address the convention.
Referring again to the “Declaration,” Abzug condemned it as “UN political as usual” and as “more of the usual UN political rhetoric.” She praised the American delegates for having voted against the “Declaration.”