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The Peacemakers in Geneva Geneva What ever became of the petitions signed by more than a million Americans, calling for a comprehensive test ban treaty, and of the ribbons people crocheted, showing things they love about life that would die in a nuclear war? Half of the petitions, and one of the ribbons, were given to Mikhail S. Gorbachev here by a delegation of about 50 American peace people, including Sissy Farenthold of Houston, the lawyer and feminist. The peace activists brought the rest of the petitions and one more ribbon to present to the Reagans here, but the Reagans did not receive them, so they gave the petitions to a low-level State Department official, and the ribbon is being held until it can be presented to Mrs. Reagan or someone else. The activists represented four groups: Nuclear Freeze, SANE, the Rainbow Coalition, and an ad hoc group of about 35 women calling themselves Women for a Successful Summit. They had about 40 minutes with Gorbachev. Jesse Jackson did most of the talking to Gorbachev, as it turned out. Farenthold stood right behind Jackson, thus only a few feet away from Gorbachev. This city of peacemaking was decorated, as it were, by people advancing a variety of causes. A gay rights activist from Florida displayed a sign advocating that the superpowers forego ten missiles to cure AIDS. “Peace Bird” announced a continuous reading of letters about peace from 220,000 children. Mrs. Avitai Scharansky was present to protest the Soviets’ incarceration of her dissident husband, Anatoly, a Jew, for eight and a half years, lately in solitary confinement. However, officials in Geneva banned all demonstrations during the summit. A peace-activist folk singer from West Germany was deported from Switzerland at 8:30 the second night of the summit because she had held up a banner showing the hands of a clock at four minutes to midnight. Six women from the Greenham were deported. Even some Buddhist monks were arrested for demonstrating. Presenting petitions and a peace ribbon to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union did not qualify as demonstrating, however, at least not in Geneva. About Gorbachev, Farenthold said: “He did not have that glazed expression of most of our officeholders. . . . He seemed to be listening very carefully . His eye didn’t roam.” She was struck most of all by the fact that he said, “indeed, he wanted to work toward nuclear disarmament. He used the term, `disarmament.’ . . . He said he was fully aware of the dangers of advanced technology that we would be held hostage by.” In this small group, she said, “he was very soft-spoken.” He seemed intelligent and “in complete control.” Jackson raised the question of the mistreatment of Jews in the Soviet Union, to which Gorbachev responded, as Farenthold recalled, ” ‘The Jews are wonderful people and they’re intelligent people. We have no problems.’ ” \(Jackson later said to the press that this was not a Justine Mariott made the presentation of the ribbon, but this seemed to distract Gorbachev, who at that point said something in an aside to an aide. Then the petitions were presented. Later during the summit Gorbachev twice mentioned the visit from the American activists, whom he characterized as pacifists. Farenthold expressed displeasure with criticism of the American group on the theme, “Don’t you undermine your President.” “We’re called ‘dissidents,’ you know,” she said. “You see how we get to be mirror images. . . . I think dissidents are perfectly respectable people. But to call us dissidents when we’re exercising our own rights!” Naturally the remarks of one of Reagan’s three top aides here, Chief of Staff Don Regan, on women’s lack of interest in serious issues provoked retorts from among the Women for a Successful Summit. Regan told the Washington Post \(as that he expected that the coverage of Mrs. Reagan and Mrs. Gorbachev would have a high appeal to women. He said: “They’re not . . . going to understand throw-weights or what is happening in Afghanistan or what is happening in human rights. Some women will, but most women believe me, your readers for the most part if you took a poll would rather read the human-interest stuff of what happens.” In the predictable flap about these remarks, President Reagan stated: “I don’t think that he meant for it to be interpreted in that way at all. He was simply adding to that interest that they also had an interest in children and a human touch.” “I’m just outraged!” exclaimed Bella Abzug, the former congresswoman from New York. As she was leaving the farewell reception for the ad hoc women’s group here, she said: “Not only is he an anachronism, but he doesn’t understand that women are here participating because they do understand. . . . And I think part of his problem is that he’s afraid women will share power because they do understand.” As for Reagan’s remark, Abzug added: “The whole thing about it is that we do care about it because we’re nurturers.” Farenthold remarked about Reagan and Gorbachev: “What these two leaders have in common is that they are surrounded by male advisers.” During the activists’ audience with Gorbachev, she said, all his aides were male. R.D. 8 DECEMBER 6, 1985