NEW YORK (Nov. 23)
A charge that the United Nations “Decade for Women” activities have been “hijacked” by PLO supporters and sympathizers was made here in a position paper released by the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC).
The nation-wide coordinating council expressed fear that the Decade’s final conference, scheduled for Nairobi in 1985, might be marked by attempts” to manipulate the conference” by “forces indifferent and even inimical to women’s programs” as were the Decade’s two previous conferences.
The NJCRAC position paper pointed out that the Decade activities, launched in Mexico City in 1975 to improve the status and condition of women, had become “deeply politicized,” and “despite its lofty ideals,” have been “in large part subverted as yet another vehicle for the PLO and Soviet bloc propaganda at the expense of women.”
MEXICO, COPENHAGEN CONCLAVES RECALLED
It noted that the 1975 International Women’s Year Conference, which launched the Decade, “is remembered in many quarters, less for its significant achievements on behalf of women, than for the adoption of the Declaration of Mexico which equated Zionism with racism. The Mexico City conference marked the beginning of the intensive assaults against Israel and the democratic Western nations in United Nations conferences. In fact, that conference became a forum for vituperative attacks by those governments which suppress women most against those countries whose freer atmosphere permits women to improve their status.”
Continuing, the NJCRAC statement said: “As outrageous as the Declaration of Mexico was, the working document, The World Plan of Action, adopted separately was not contaminated with the anti-Zionist venom which was contained in the Declaration of Mexico. The World Plan of Action was, therefore, used as a basis for a U.S. National Plan of Action, supported by the women’s movement and many in the Jewish community.
“Unfortunately, the 1980 Mid-Decade Conference in Copenhagen began where the Declaration of Mexico left off. From the outset of preparations for Copenhagen, procedural rules were ignored and extraneous political considerations were allowed to dominate. Parliamentary procedure was disregarded when it did not meet the needs of those who had ‘hijacked’ the conference, namely, the PLO and their Arab and Soviet bloc allies.
“Waiving all the rules, an official conference document rewriting the history of Palestine and Israel and viciously slandering the Jewish people was accepted as a basic reference for the conference. It was prepared by the UN Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) composed primarily of Israel’s hostile neighbors who had denied Israel her rightful membership in that body.”
In addition, the Copenhagen conference not only equated Zionism with racism, but also provided that “United Nations aid to Palestinian women should be given in consultation and cooperation with the PLO”–items strongly opposed by the United States, the NJCRAC statement said.
However, it continued, “despite the outrages perpetrated at Copenhagen and, for that matter, in many other United Nations agencies, critical participation remains a port of our own approach to the Women’s Decade.”
FEAR ABOUT NAIROBI CONFERENCE
But past experience with the Decade’s activities “leads us to fear that, at the third and final conference scheduled for Nairobi in 1985, similar attempts to manipulate the conference will be made for their own political purposes by forces indifferent and even inimical to women’s programs,” the NJCRAC position paper charged.
It noted that during the first stages of planning for Nairobi at the Vienna UN Conference on the Status of Women earlier this year the U.S. “played a more forceful hand and in some cases blunted the most radical initiatives of those antagonistic to both Israel and the United States. However, the Vienna planning conference once again adopted the proposed inclusion of Palestinian women as a major agenda item and included several anti-Zionist resolutions, thereby demonstrating that the planning process for 1985 remains under the control of the same anti-democratic forces.”
The NJCRAC’s concerns were expressed to Nancy Reynolds, President Reagan’s representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The Jewish group called on the U.S. government to “use its excellent resources to overcome disruptive exploitation of women’s issues” in future UN Women’s Decade activities.
The NJCRAC statement’s release was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the U.S. National Women’s Year Conference in Houston, Texas–the American convocation which developed a “Plan for Action for Women” for the United States. The policy paper was prepared by NJCRAC’s Ad Hoc Committee on the United Nations, chaired by Shirley Joseph, of Buffalo, New York.