Hadassah President: Weak Nations Need ‘preferential Treatment’
Menu JTA Search

Hadassah President: Weak Nations Need ‘preferential Treatment’

Download PDF for this date

“If Israel is to hold its own against the united Arab world–rich in geography, rich in people, super-rich in oil and money–the United States cannot realistically be even handed. It must favor Israel,” Bernice S. Tannenbaum, president of Hadassah, said tonight at the opening plenary of Hadassah’s 63rd annual national convention meeting at the New York Hilton Hotel. This was her first major public address since assuming the presidency last August.

Mrs. Tannenbaum declared that “In order to protect the rights of smaller, weaker nations, they must receive preferential treatment–call this the ‘righting of the diplomatic balance of power’. The Helsinki Accord illustrates ‘that might makes right’: despite the constitutions, amendments, resolutions and the Declaration of the United Nations guaranteeing the integrity and sovereignty of nations, Russia’s total absorption of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, and its annexation of large parts of Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Rumania–was legitimized.”

Furthermore, she said, “the recent Belgrade meeting confirms that despite President Carter’s valiant efforts, the Soviets have no intention of being held accountable for the human rights provisions to which they agreed in Helsinki.”


Linking human rights abroad to the United States’ responsibility for the social and economic rights of its own citizens, Mrs. Tannenbaum said: “Only too recently we, in New York, experienced what happens in a blackout. Doctors took over for machines in intensive-care units. Autos couldn’t get gas from pumps that depend on electricity, the entire railway transportation system–our security life-line-was immobilized. What happened in New York can happen here again and in other parts of the country as well.”

Noting that the Hadassah convention, which ends Wednesday, will devote “an important part” of its sessions to the question of energy conservation “because that is a national concern,” Mrs. Tannenbaum stated: “However, the other part of the blackout story in New York is equally important, and that has to do with the looting of small business in the ghettos by ghetto people. This, too, could happen anywhere in the United States where the long-time deprivation has been neglected. It is a warning which must be heeded.”

Last year when Hadassah held its convention in Washington, “a survey of our leadership revealed the two issues that concerned them the most were (1) jobs, even before the control of inflation, and (2) energy self-sufficiency,” the Hadassah-leader said.

“President Carter in his campaign also identified these two issues as his top priorities. In January of 1977, just before the inauguration, I repeated to the press in Israel, in response to questions about President-elect Carter, these two prime concerns of our members and I added, ‘The United States must be economically and socially sound if it is to be an effective leader of the free world. We hope therefore, that Mr. Carter will give top priority to these two challenging problems which are basic to peace at home and in the world. We still believe this.”

Returning to the energy issue, Mrs. Tannenbaum concluded. “We are an organization of 360,000 women, representing with their families and friends, millions of American citizens. We are prepared to cooperate with the President’s energy program. However, car pooling, turning off TV one day a week, and restricting the use of appliances, are not enough. We look to President Carter to lead the Congress and the people with bold and innovative programs.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund