Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the President's Meeting With Jewish Women Leaders

August 16, 1984

The President met this morning with a group of distinguished women leaders representing a cross section of the American Jewish community. Their discussion focused on foreign policy issues and concerns, including U.S.-Israeli relations. The President expressed his commitment to the security of Israel and his belief that the United States can play an important role in assisting the dialog between Israel and her neighbors.

The President stressed his administration does not condone anti-Semitism in any form. The President discussed the third International Women's Conference which will take place next year in Nairobi, marking the end of the United Nations Decade for Women, noting that while the original goals of the previous two United Nations Women's Conferences (in Mexico City in 1975 and Copenhagen in 1980) were noble, both conferences became dominated by political issues extraneous to these goals. Specifically, these conferences became fora for attacks on the State of Israel and an infamous association of Zionism with racism.

The President made clear today that the United States will actively oppose any conference agenda item which deviates from important women's issues and calls for the discussion of nongermane political issues, including any agenda item that could be used as a vehicle to defame Israel. The United States has consistently opposed such efforts, most recently at the United Nations Population Conference in Mexico City earlier this week.

In particular, the President noted that the United States will oppose any agenda item at the Nairobi Conference which associates Zionism with racism. If, despite our efforts, such an agenda item is adopted, the United States will have no choice but to consider seriously canceling its participation in the conference.