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B’nai B’rith International Council Leader Urges Boycott of Geneva Parley

August 26, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

All nations which believe in the “rule of law” and the founding principles of the United Nations were urged by B’nai B’rith International to shun the UN Conference on Palestine scheduled to convene in Geneva, under a cloud of controversy, starting next Monday.

Philip Lax, chairman of the B’nai B’rith International Council, made that appeal when he released a report he said indicated the Geneva conference would be used as “a staged attempt to discredit Israel and undermine its right to exist.”

Lax stressed that, at a time when Israel is demonstrating its strong desire for peace by its pact with Lebanon and its planned troop withdrawal while the PLO and the other Arab states are “intransigent and hostile,” the conference should not get serious attention from the west.


The report, prepared by Dr. Harris Schoenberg, director of the International Council’s Geneva office, charged that the conference’s predatory committee already had taken steps to exclude pro-Israel groups and viewpoints and that the committee had formed a “mini-working group” which has censured and rejected more than half of the background papers submitted so far to the conference.

The report indicated that on June 14, the predatory committee adopted a proposal, demanded by the PLO, requiring that all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wishing to attend the Geneva conference to submit material documenting their sympathies.

Schoenberg said this decision “excluded any sentiment favorable to Israel.” He said the proposal, approved by Madagascar, the Laos Peoples Democratic Republic, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, had been opposed by the Egyptian representative, who argued for open participation.

Schoenberg said 12 papers approved for the conference, after screening of all papers offered for the event, were “rife with anti-Israel themes,” portraying Israel as a “dark and evil nation.” One paper revives the “Zionism is racism” slander and another claims that the 1948 recommendation by the UN General Assembly, partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, was illegal.


Meanwhile, it was reported from Geneva yesterday that envoys of the 10-nation European Economic Community failed to reach a common position on the Geneva conference but diplomatic sources said only Greece will participate. The envoys met for several hours in the West German Mission in Geneva and sources said most of them favored sending only observers.

Some, including West Germany, said they favored boycotting the conference. Greece announced some time ago it would participate. The other nine ECC nations agreed to postpone a public announcement of their generally unfavorable attitude for a few days.

Switzerland, the unwilling host to the 10-day conference, said it would send an observer but would not participate. Some EEC diplomats called the $6 million conference a waste of money.

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