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In Unprecedented Event, Wife of Egyptian Envoy Addresses Jewish Women

In an unprecedented event, Mrs. Samiha Badawi, wife of the Deputy Ambassador of Egypt to the United Nations, Abdal Hulim Badawi, broke bread, accepted a gift of a menorah and established warm relations with 100 members of the National Board of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism even as she said to them that the Palestinians must have a homeland and that “Israel’s security cannot be underwritten by the insecurity of others.”

Mrs. Badawi was warmly introduced by Mrs. Ruth Perry, president of the League, who presented the menorah to the visiting Arab dignitary. In her remarks, Mrs. Perry, who had invited Mrs. Badawi to address the League, pointed out that the meeting here was taking place on a very significant day the opening of talks in Cairo that, hopefully, would lead to an ultimate peace. She added that the entire Jewish world applauded the sincerity and courage of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and prayed for Arab-Israel peace.

Despite Mrs. Badawi’s seemingly hard positions–she also called for Israel to give up territories–her major thrust and emphasis was on the hopeful side. Several times she stressed the values and affinities that Jews and Arabs share “as grandsons of a common prophet, Abraham.” Decrying the misunderstandings, prejudices and suspicions that had been allowed to develop between the two peoples, she accented the positive. “The light seems to glint at long last,” she said, “at the end of the tunnel,” and attributed the new atmosphere to the courage and visions of Sadat.

APPEALS FOR ENDURING PEACE

Mrs. Badawi, 36, who has sons aged 13 and 8, appealed to women everywhere–as mothers and sisters of sons and brothers who die in battle–to bend their utmost efforts toward a just and enduring peace in the Mideast, for which she saw bright hopes.

Saying that she was speaking “as an ordinary Egyptian woman and mother,” she declared: “The Middle East is a land not only rich in its spiritual treasure, but also abundant in human and natural resources. The ingenuity of all the peoples in the area working together can restore to that region its past glory. Hopes have been reborn, on both sides. Peace must not be delayed much longer.”

The occasion marked the first time that the wife of a high-ranking Arab official was paid a tribute by a major American Jewish organization. The League is the parent body of 800 sisterhoods of Conservative synagogues in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Israel. It is associated with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

The League had also invited Mrs. Eglal Esmat Meguid, wife of the Egyptian Ambassador to the UN, Ahmed Esmat Meguid, but she was unable to attend because she returned to Cairo with her husband where he is Egypt’s chief delegate at the Cairo conference.

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