Echeverria Tells is Jewish Leaders That the Mexican Government Does Not Identify Zionism with Racism

The Mexican government “in no way identified Zionism with racism,” President Luis Echeverria told a delegation of American and Canadian Jewish leaders he had invited to visit him in response to critical Jewish reactions to Mexico’s vote for the United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.

The 15 Jewish leaders, who met with Echeverria at a lengthy luncheon Friday, issued a statement declaring that the President had told them that Mexican Foreign Minister Emilio Rabasa “is now at the United Nations to ensure that future votes by Mexico cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood as equating Zionism with racism or opposing the national aspiration of the Jewish people.”

Rabasa spent five days in Israel last week in an effort to clear up what he called “certain misunderstandings” resulting from the Mexican vote on the resolution. One result has been suspension by American and Canadian Jewish organizations of tour programs to Mexico, with Mexican hotels receiving thousands of room cancellations.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY VOTE WILL BE A TEST

Lawrence Peirez, a member of the B’nai B’rith board of governors and one of the 15 members of the delegation, said after the meeting that B’nai B’rith will await “formal action” by Mexico in the United Nations disassociating itself from the anti-Zionist resolution before considering whether to reinstate its tours to Mexico. Peirez said he “anticipates” such a move by Mexico tomorrow when the UN General Assembly will consider an omnibus resolution that includes anti-Zionist declarations adopted by the International Women’s Year conference in Mexico City last summer.

The resolution contains an operative paragraph which specifically adds Zionist to its condemnation of racism, colonialism, apartheid, and imperialism. From a procedural approach, this paragraph is expected to be voted on separately from the remainder of the resolution which contains elements that can be supported, Peirez noted. “This should give Mexico an opportunity to offer formally the statements by President Echeverria that Mexico does not identify Zionism with racism and supports the right of the Jewish people to a national homeland in Israel,” Peirez said.

David Blumberg, B’nai B’rith president, who just returned from a visit to Mexico, also said that the current B’nai B’rith position on tourism to Mexico would continue pending further developments on Mexico’s UN actions. Will Maslow, general counsel of the American Jewish Congress, said Echeverria assumed full responsibility for the vote on Nov, 10 when the General Assembly adopted the anti-Zionist resolution.

Seymour Graubard, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said he was “entirely satisfied.” with the meeting with the Mexican President, Graubard said Echeverria told the Jewish leaders that he had hoped the Zionist-racist resolution “would lead the conflicting parties in the Middle East to make progress in their talks.” The President added that the vote did not accomplish the results he had hoped for. Graubard and Maslow were part of the 15 member delegation. (See Dec, 12 Bulletin for full delegation list.)

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