Head of N.o.w. Says Jews and Women Are Both Victims of Bias
Menu JTA Search

Head of N.o.w. Says Jews and Women Are Both Victims of Bias

Download PDF for this date

Nations and groups that discriminate against Jews are also prone to discriminate against women, and vice versa, the president of the National Organization of Women (NOW) declared here. Karen DeCrow, who was reelected last week to a second term as president of the feminist organization, told the top policy-making National Executive Council of the American Jewish Committee which is holding its annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, “In many ways, we have a joint fight on our hands.”

She cited as an example the fact that the International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City last June, where the majority of delegates came from Arab and Third World countries, refused to endorse a statement condemning sexism but passed a resolution condemning Zionism.

“It was disgraceful,” she said, “but it was also unfortunately part of a pattern. Even though the delegates to the conference were women, they couldn’t endorse a statement condemning sexism because most of the nations of the world, which they represented, approve of sexism and practice it. On the other hand, they could endorse a statement condemning Zionism because, tragically, the same nations are anti-Semitic and practice anti-Semitism.”


Ms. DeCrow recalled the scene at the Mexico City conference when the Arab and Third World delegates walked out of the meeting as Leah Rabin went to the podium to speak. Mrs. Rabin, wife of Israel’s Premier, headed the Israeli delegation to the International Women’s Year Conference.

It was a humiliating experience, not only for Ms. Rabin, but for all of us there who believe in sisterhood and justice,” Ms. DeCrow said. “I have left strongly since Mexico City that anti-Semitism is so alive and well that it is incumbent for everyone to do what she or he can in fighting it, and not push it under the rug. I call on everyone who believes in democracy and justice to help–to be concerned about it.”

From earliest times, Ms. DeCrow asserted, both Jews and women have been “scapegoats for the dissatisfactions and unrest of society,” During the Middle Ages, she pointed out, Jews were killed in the Inquisition, while women were killed as witches. Both kinds of murder were means of diverting public attention from the excesses of the privileged classes and the evils of the government, she said. Even today, she continued, “where we find discrimination against one group, we find it against the other.”

As an example, she noted that “private clubs in the United States today often refuse to accept Jews because they say it will diminish the status of the club. And they give the same reason for refusing to take in women members,” Ms. DeCrow, who has just returned from a two-week trip to the Soviet Union, where she was a guest of the government, cited that country as a prime example of one that discriminates against both Jews and women.


At another session of the Council meeting which began today and concludes Sunday with a scheduled address by Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, it was reported that almost 100 colleges and universities throughout the country have assured the AJCommittee that they would not discriminate against Jews were that a condition for obtaining lucrative contracts from Arab countries.

The assurances were contained in letters to Elmer L. Winter, AJCommittee president, who had written to the presidents of a selected group of colleges and universities expressing concern that “Arab nations may seek to impose discriminatory hiring practices on colleges and universities” as the quid pro quo for contracts to supply personnel and technical information.

A report on the replies, together with an analysis of the potential dangers to the security of American Jews as well as to the freedom of America’s educational institutions, was presented by Alfred H. Moses of Washington, the AJ Committee’s Domestic Affairs Commission chairman.

In discussing the report, which was prepared by Marilyn Braveman, AJ Committee’s director of education, Moses stressed the fact that the human relations organization was not opposed to colleges and universities entering into contracts with Arab countries, but was concerned about restrictive clauses that might be part of such contracts. He pointed out that several prestigious universities dropped contract negotiations when it became apparent that Saudi Arabia was insisting on barring Jews from participating in a proposed project.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology last May turned down a $2 million contract to plan and design Saudi Arabia’s water and electric power facilities. Harvard University, in 1974, had declined to become involved in a Saudi program for improving “including Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State, recently suspended work on a project to aid Saudi Arabia’s University of Riyadh when a Michigan State dean, who is Jewish, was told he could not get a visa from the Saudi government.

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