Sharett Charges Prague with Plotting Against Jews in “nazi Spirit”

Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett today charged the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia with “anti-Semitic plotting” against Jews in all countries behind the Iron Curtain and with anti-Jewish agitation “in the spirit of Nazism.” In an official statement made in Parliament in connection with the “purge” trial now taking place in Prague, Mr. Sharett said:

“In one respect this shameful spectacle constitutes an innovation. The majority of the accused are Jews and the prosecution has spared no pains to highlight their racial origin and to trace their alleged crimes to this prime cause. The indictment and the court proceedings themselves, as well as the publicity given the trial in the official Czech press are all permeated by a spirit of anti-Semitism.

“The staging of the trial is replete with propagandist effects and anti-Semitic incident in the undiluted tradition of Nazism,” the Foreign Minister charged. “The prosecution has unfolded a dark screed of criminal plottings and acts of conspiracy and subversion which these Jewish enemies of the Czech people either perpetrated or sought to perpetrate. But unsatisfied with impugning their Jewish origin, it denounced them as Zionists. Men who have never had any connection with the Zionist movement–some of whom have indeed persecuted Zionism with vengeance–have branded themselves with that stigma.”

Mr. Sharett stated that the whole Zionist movement, “the movement of liberation and return to the homeland,” had been “smeared and slandered as a gang of intriguers and spies bent on undermining the very foundations of the Czech regime, seeking to ruin the country, dishonestly exploiting the property of its citizens for its own nefarious purposes. Attempts of the Jewish survivors to recover a tiny fraction of the immense volume of property of which they were plundered has been denounced as an act of deceit and robbery, ” Mr. Sharett continued.

HITS SLANDER AGAINST ISRAEL AT PRAGUE TRIAL

“Israeli citizens who sought to serve the interests of the Czech Republic and its allies have been ensnared in this judicial plot and have been made to admit absurd charges of subversion and sabotage. Finally, libellous allegations have been made against Ministers and accredited representatives of the Israel Government, charging them with having conspired with enemies of Czechoslovakia, both within and without, seeking to encompass the destruction of her economy and undermine her security.

“The Israel Government holds it utterly superfluous to attempt any detailed factual denial of this tissue of libels and fabrications concerning the activities of its members and emissaries produced from the fertile imagination of the Czech secret police and the public prosecutor,” the Foreign Minister stressed. He stated that these slanders “contradict reason” and that “their falseness is obvious to the marked eye, denied as they are by patent facts.

“Israel,” he added, “has always entertained a sincere sympathy for the Czechoslovak people. Israel sought to establish and foster friendly relations with the present Czech state. Israel obtained valuable aid from Czechoslovakia during its war of liberation, for which it paid in full. This was arranged with the knowledge and authority of the heads of the Czech state, some of whom still occupy high seats of power.

SAYS ISRAEL ENVOYS NEVER SERVED AS SPIES OF ANY POWER

“At one stage, Israel concluded a commercial agreement with Czechoslovakia on terms agreeable to both parties.” Mr. Sharett recalled. “Israel admitted thousands of Jews who were officialy authorized to leave Czechoslovakia after they left most of their property behind. Under the terms of this commercial agreement Israel paid for a small percentage of her imports from Czechoslovakia with a limited proportion of the immigrants’ former possessions.

“None of these operations were performed in the dark,” he underlined. “They were not the result of any underhanded manipulation, but of official honorable negotiation between the accredited representatives of both countries. There was no trickery involved, nor any attempt to take advantage of imagined weakness of the opposite party or to damage its vital interests — it was an agreement freely entered into for mutual benefit.

“Israel representatives never served as spies or agents of any foreign power,” the Israel Minister declared, adding that “only those to whom espionage and sabotage come naturally as a matter of daily practice are capable of conceiving that such a fantastic charge can gain credence, and only those to whom international relations are a tangled web of machinations woven in the dark can invent about Ministers of Israel such stories of sinister plotting which every civilized citizen in a free country treats with ridicule and contempt.”

Mr. Sharett warned that “history has already passed judgment on those regimes which had recourse to the bogey of anti-Semitism in order to divert the attention of the masses from their own troubles and the failures of their rulers, and to turn their hatred toward the Jews as scapegoats. The liberation of Czechoslovakia from Hitler’s storm troopers stands desecrated before the whole world by this attempt to revive its vile spirit within its borders.

“This campaign of desecration is calculated to serve as a threat to the Jews of Czechoslovakia and of the neighboring countries,” he charged. “Its object is to discredit Israel in their eyes and to stamp out their Jewish pride. It seeks to make them hated by the masses and to provide in advance justification for any future acts of discrimination and persecution of which they become victims. In this hour our hearts are with the multitudes of our Jewish brethren who are cut off from the main body of the Jewish people and from any contact with the State of Israel.”

Concluding his statement, Mr. Sharett asserted that the “Prague trial has cast a dark and ugly blot on the glorious record of friendship between Czechoslovakia and Israel. It has imposed a heavy and grievous burden on the memory of the Jewish people.” A four-hour debate on the subject will be held tomorrow.

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