Nigerian Envoy to UN Says U.S. Jews Pressured U.S. to Boycott UN Confab
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Nigerian Envoy to UN Says U.S. Jews Pressured U.S. to Boycott UN Confab

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The Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations today blamed the political power of American Jews for the refusal of the United States to participate in the UN-sponsored World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination.

“I think that the problem in the U.S. is that the Jews play a major role in the politics of the country,” the Nigerian envoy, Leslie Harriman, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Even though they are only 8 million (Jews in the U.S.), they are very, very, very strong indeed.” (The 1978 edition of the American Jewish Year Book estimates the Jewish population in the U.S. at 5,775,935.)

Harriman, who is also chairman of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid, said that the “U.S. was apprehensive that the conference would be made a forum for anti-Zionist motions and condemnations of Israel and it chose therefore not to participate.” Israel has also boycotted the conference for its linking of Zionism with racism.


This linkage was seen in a draft resolution being circulated at the conference today by the Soviet Union and other East European countries which would reaffirm the General Assembly resolution that labels “Zionism as being a form of racism and racial discrimination.” The resolution also expresses support for the oppressed peoples in southern Africa and the Arab people of Palestine.

Syria, supported by Jordan, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates, suggested that the resolution also condemn countries that engage in military cooperation with South Africa, especially in the nuclear field. This was aimed at charges of military cooperation between Israel and South Africa, including nuclear know-how.

Israel has been attacked throughout the conference and has been linked repeatedly with South Africa. Tanzania charged that Israel, by denying the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” was reducing them to a subject race similar to South Africa’s apartheid policies. Egypt, despite the upcoming Camp David meeting, compared the regimes in Israel and South Africa to the Nazi doctrines of racial superiority.

Attacks have come from other countries, including the People’s Republic of China, which said Israel was a base of imperialism. Syria, which is taking the hardest line against Israel at the conference, has demanded that it be expelled from the UN.

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