WASHINGTON (Apr. 8)
In the midst of an address by Dr. Norman Salit, president of the Synagogue Council of America, the ambassadors of the Arab League states angrily and noisily left a banquet hall today in protest against the rabbi’s remarks. The occasion was a diplomatic luncheon jointly tendered by the Department of State and Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield for member countries of the Universal Postal Union. (See earlier report on Page 5.)
Dr. Salit began by reference to America’s religious faith in freedom and democracy. But when he referred to Israel as the only true democracy in the Near East, the Arab Ambassadors began to stir uneasily in their chairs. Finally, Dr. Salit mentioned Arab raids into Israel territory, specifically implicating Jordan. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles glared at Dr. Salit. The Arabs conspicuously banged their seats back, and paraded noisily out of the room.
An aide to Mr. Summerfield arose from his seat and rushed after the Arabs, He begged them to return to the meeting, explaining that he considered them to be honored guests. He said there was no opportunity to see Dr. Salit’s remarks in advance. The purpose of the affair, he said, was to promote goodwill between nations and religions on the occasion of the debut of the first regular U. S. postage stamps to bear the national motto. “In God We Trust. ” The Arabs refused to return unless permitted a chance to reply to the “Zionist attack. ” They accused Dr. Salit of “exploiting” a religious address to make a “political attack” on them.
At the program’s end, Secretary Dulles visibly annoyed at Dr. Salit, got up and stalked out of the room with Assistant Secretary of State Henry A. Byroade at his heels. Mr. Byroade is in charge of Near Eastern Affairs. Previous to Dr. Salit’s address, President Eisenhower participated in a telecast honoring the new stamp but the President was not present in the hall where the subsequent incident occurred.
Postmaster General Summerfield addressed an official letter of apology to each of the four Arab Ambassadors involved. He enclosed a letter of apology which he received from Dr. Salit.