WASHINGTON (Nov. 3)
Appointment of an investigation commission of neutral observers to go to Iraq to ascertain the facts of Iraqi persecution of Jews was asked of the State Department today by seven national Jewish organizations.
Jewish leaders called on George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, today, following the State Department’s assertion earlier that it found no evidence to support charges of widespread anti-Jewish action in Iraq.
A memorandum documenting specific acts of persecution was presented to Mr. McGhee by Frank Goldman, president, B’nai B’rith; Milton King, vice-president, American Jewish Committee; Rabbi Irving Miller, chairman, executive committee, American Jewish Congress; Louis Lipsky, chairman, American Zionist Council; Adolph Held, president, Jewish Labor Committee; Jackson J. Hoitz, national commander, Jewish War Veterans; and, Rabbi Bernard J. Bamberger, president, Synagogue Council of America.
Referring to a statement released Tuesday, in which the State Department indicated its belief that current reports of the number of Jews arrested in Iraq were exaggerated, and which added that those arrested “are understood to be under charges of having violated specific Iraqi laws,” the delegation told Mr. McGhee:
“The basic allegation is not that the Government of Iraq has been arresting Jews in violation of its own laws, but that the laws themselves are in violation of the United Nations Charter, fundamental human rights and the generally accepted principles of civil liberty. There is illuminating if tragic precedent for the fact that a campaign of persecution and terrorization can be no less successful because it is cloaked in the mantle of legality; the exploits of the SS and of the Gestapo were clothed in the Hitlerian law.”
As spokesman for the delegation, Mr. Goldman said that the delegation was “graciously received” by Mr. McGhee and came away satisfied that the matter will receive the appropriate attention of the Department. Mr. McGhee was asked to note the tenor of anti-Jewish stories in the Arab press and radio and reports of arrest and imprisonment of Jews carried in Iraqi newspapers.
The delegation informed Mr. McGhee that, in its opinion, “the situation was deteriorating from hour to hour and immediate action must be taken if the 130,000 Jews of Iraq are not to be crushed irreparably through terror and economic strangulation.” In addition to requesting the dispatch of an investigating committee, the Jewish representatives asked that the State Department use its good offices with the Iraq Government to halt the persecution.