Behind the Headlines Israeli, U.S. Jewish Delegates Ready to Combat Anti-zionism at Nairobi
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Behind the Headlines Israeli, U.S. Jewish Delegates Ready to Combat Anti-zionism at Nairobi

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More than 250 items are on the agenda for the conference marking the end of the United Nations Decade for Women in Nairobi, Kenya, July 8-16.

But one of the items, Palestinian women, which is number 227 on the list, is threatening to turn the conference into an anti-Israeli forum, dominated by Palestine Liberation Organization propaganda and anti-Zionist slurs, much as was the case in the last Women’s Conference in Copenhagen in 1980.

But this time, Israeli diplomats and American Jewish delegates, who plan to attend the Nairobi conference, promise that they are going “to fight back” and not be intimidated by the Arabs’ attempt to politicize the meeting and use it in their struggle against the state of Israel and its legitimacy.


“There is no doubt in my mind that the PLO will launch a virulent anti-Israeli campaign in Nairobi, and that it will succeed in passing anti-Zionist and , anti Israeli resolutions,” said an Israeli diplomat at the UN. “But we are not going to let them dominate the conference this time. We hope that we will be able to avoid a public debate on the situation of Palestinian women.

“In Copenhagen the conference was busy for almost three days with Palestinian women. Our argument is: If you discuss the situation of Palestinian women why not discuss the situation of Cambodian women, or Afghan women who are under Russian occupation, or even the situation of Soviet Jewish women,” the Israeli diplomat said.

Dr. Harris Schoenberg, director of the UN office of B’nai B’rith International, who attended the Copenhagen Conference, and plans to attend the Nairobi Conference, asserted that the Jewish delegates in Copenhagen were “traumatized” by the “virulent anti -Zionist, anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli” propaganda at the meeting. PLO terrorist Leila Khaled, was an honored guest at the Conference, Schoenberg recalled, and the infamous UN Zionism is racism resolution was adopted by the delegates.

The objectives of the Women’s Decade, described as “Equality, Development and Peace,” were totally forgotten in Copenhagen, Schoenberg said. Instead the Conference became an anti-Israeli forum resembling almost any other UN meeting, where the Arabs have the majority of votes.


The obsession with anti-Zionism was already manifested at the opening conference of the Women’s Decade in Mexico City in 1975. It was there, for the first time in history, that the Zionism equals racism declaration was adopted. This was the seed that produced, a few months later, the November 1975 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.

According to diplomats at the UN, thanks to efforts by the United States and Israel, the Nairobi conference will not refer directly to the Zionism is racism resolution in its final declaration. Instead there will be general reference to previous “relevant” UN resolutions without citing their content.

“The status of the PLO at the UN these days is at an ebb,” one diplomat explained. “Five years ago they could get away with almost anything. Now they could not fulfill their wish to have the Zionism is racism resolution clearly spelled out in the final declaration of the Women’s Decade,” he said.


In preparation for the Nairobi Conference, delegates of Jewish Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in Israel and the United States, as well as other countries in the world, explored issues directly relating to women as well as political facts about the status of the Palestinian woman in Israel in relation to her status in other Arab countries, facts that might be needed to challenge false PLO propaganda.

More than 10,000 women representing governments as well as NGOs are scheduled to attend the Nairobi conference. Two separate forums will be held. One for NGOs’ delegates and one for official delegations representing the various countries.

The official Israeli government delegation will be headed by Dr. Niza Libai, Premier Shimon Peres’ advisor on women’s issues. The United States delegation will be headed by Maureen Reagan, President Reagan’s daughter. Miss Reagan has already declared that the U.S. delegation will oppose any attempt to politicize the conference by PLO or any other extremist groups.


Evelyn Sommer, President of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), U.S., and permanent representative of WIZO to the UN, will head the WIZO’s delegation to the Nairobi Conference.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency she said that in the last two and half years, during the UN’s preparatory meetings and seminars toward the conference in Nairobi, the Communist and Arab countries joined forces together to disrupt the End of the Decade Women’s Conference.

“A coalition of Communist and Arab countries orchestrated the inclusion of highly divisive issues such as the situation in Central America, disarmament, new economic order, women under apartheid and Palestinian women, hoping in this way to disrupt the proceedings in Nairobi,” Sommer said.

She added: “It has become painfully clear that the Soviet-Arab axis is planning to build on the previous women conferences — in Mexico city in 1975 where Zionism was equated with racism and in Copenhagen in 1980 which provided that UN’s aid to Palestinian women be given through the PLO — in order to divert and manipulate the Nairobi conference into an anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist international platform.”

Sommer said, however, that the more than 200 Jewish Women and men, representing all the major national and international Jewish NGO’s at the conference “will bring and share in Nairobi their knowhow in the fields of child care, employment, education and women’s health.”

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