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Exclusive to the JTA U.S. Under Pressure to Reverse Its Rejection of the ‘program of Action’ Adopted

There is increasing pressure on the United States, in an upcoming UN General Assembly session, to reverse its rejection of the “Program of Action” adopted at the world conference of the United Nations Decade for Women in Copenhagen this summer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned. A campaign is being mounted through regional meetings where the Copenhagen vote is being discussed by local chapters of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA) and by various women’s groups. The women’s groups were not immediately identified.

At a recent West Coast meeting a resolution was passed calling for the U.S. to reverse its vote, with restrictions, and express its solidarity with women around the world, the JTA was told. On Tuesday, Oct. 28, UNA’s New York City chapter has reportedly scheduled a discussion on Copenhagen, followed by a meeting at the United States Mission with Ambassador Donald McHenry and other U.S. Mission personnel to discuss strategy when the World Conference for Women’s report comes up before the UN General Assembly.

Over the weekend of Oct. 31, the UNA New Haven Chapter is sponsoring a meeting at Yale Law School to interpret the results of the Copenhagen Conference. It is anticipated that pro-Arab forces wish to convey the argument that by the U.S. support of Israel the United States is selling out the women’s rights movement around the world.

The Program of Action adopted at Copenhagen is currently in a UN Committee and may not reach a vote in the UN General Assembly until after the U.S. Presidential election. The Program of Action is not valid until it is adopted by the Assembly.

Despite the many positive aspects of the Program, and its concern for developing valuable assistance programs for women internationally, the U.S. along with Canada, Australia and Israel, felt compelled to vote against it in Copenhagen for its equation of Zionism with racism and its legitimization of the PLO. The Program calls for the eradication of the “evils” of Zionism, racism, imperialism, and neo-colonialism, and for economic assistance to Palestinian women inside and outside occupied territories in cooperation and consultation with the PLO.

U.S. URGED TO REMAIN FIRM

In a letter sent to President Carter, Secretary of State Edmund Muskie and other officials, the president of the National Council of Jewish Women, Shirley-Leviton, urged that the United States remain firm in its opposition to the Program of Action as it was adopted in Copenhagen.

She further urged that the U.S. take the offensive in demonstrating its continued commitment to the achievement of universal women’s rights as long as this is not done at the expense of the security of Israel or the interests of the U.S. Mrs. Leviton stated, “It is those governments which are either indifferent to or oppress women in their own countries that are responsible for distorting the Program of Action adopted at Copenhagen.”

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