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U.S. Condemns Anti-Israel Declaration at Conference to Combat Racism

August 29, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The United States today condemned the anti-Israel Declaration and Program of Action adopted by a vote of 88-4 by the World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination at its conclusion Saturday in Geneva. However, the United States noted with approval that the document did not define Zionism as racism.

A statement read to the press at the State Department pointed out that the members of the European community, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway walked out of the conference and did not participate in the adoption of either the Declaration or the Program “because of language condemning Israel.”

The United States and Israel did not participate in the Conference, sponsored by the United Nations, because it was based, in part, on the UN General Assembly resolution of 1975 that equated Zionism with racism. The nations that walked out of the meeting did not participate in the final vote of the Geneva action, which was 88 to four. Austria, Finland, Switzerland, and Sweden voted against it, while San Marino and Malawi abstained.


“We are pleased that the document did not contain a definition of Zionism as racism,” the State Department statement said. “We also applaud the decision of our Western allies to cease participation in a conference on racism when its participation in a conference on racism when its participants used it to launch politically inspired attacks on Israel. We share their view that such selective condemnation deviates from the purpose of the Decade which is to foster and promote universal principles to guide an effective struggle against racism.”

While the text of the final declaration did not contain a definition of Zionism as racism, the Conference did attack Israel for “racist” policies in occupied territories and for relations with South Africa. The State Department statement did not refer to these elements. Privately, however, U.S. officials assessed Israel’s relationship with South Africa as “insignificant” and deprecated “racist practices” as being an allegation unworthy of repetition in formal comment.

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