United States Middle East Policy Outlined by Murphy at J. D. C. Meeting
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United States Middle East Policy Outlined by Murphy at J. D. C. Meeting

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The present American policy with regard to the Middle East was outlined here tonight by Robert Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary of State, addressing the 42nd annual meeting of the Joint Distribution Committee. Mr. Murphy said that the United States Government “is not solely concerned with the immediate problem, but looks forward to the day when peace and stability will be established in the Middle East.”

“We would hope,” the State Department official stated, “that a new and more flexible spirit could be developed among the countries directly involved. If that can be done surely there should be nothing insoluble in a problem such as the Jordan water supply, the refugee question, or for that matter the question of frontiers. This assumes, of course, an honest recognition that the State of Israel is a fact of life. The United States wants to contribute to that new spirit of understanding just as it wishes to work for a better standard of living in the area which will be possible once a general settlement is achieved.”

Mr. Murphy spoke at length on Soviet discrimination against Jews in the USSR. “The Soviet Jew,” he said, “has little hope of escaping the discrimination and stigma directed at him thanks to the contradictory policy of the regime which singles him out as a Jew while at the same time trying to assimilate him. On the one hand, the Soviet Jew is denied his own cultural institutions on the ground that he is supposedly not interested in them and is being assimilated. Jewish children are cut off from religious instruction and their faith attacked. At the same time, an accordance with the Soviet practice of indicating ethnic groups, individual passports are stamped with the word ‘Jew.’ He remains a Jew to be discriminated against despite the denial to him of his culture and history and the assault on his religion.”


Edward M. M. Warburg, who was re-elected JDC chairman, said that the European Jewish communities having been able to rebuild on the rain and debris left as a legacy of the Hitler regime, tells us some very fundamental things about Jews and man in general. It tells us that the human personality is indestructible as long as there is any slight will to survive; that the human personality is resilient, and will make use of whatever is at hand and will adapt itself to almost any environment and circumstance in obedience to the will to survive.”

These two conclusions, the JDC leader continued, can act as lodestones to guide JDC in making an assessment of the changes that have taken place in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. “The nature of JDC’s aims will not change,” Mr. Warburg declared, “although its responsibilities may. We will continue to extend the warm hand of affection and help to our fellow Jews in whatever part of the world they may be and whatever the nature of their trouble.” A budget of $26,550,000 was adopted for 1957.

Moses A. Leavitt JDC executive vice-chairman, reviewing the world-wide activities of the JDC, told the gathering that he was in Israel on October 29, the day the invasion of the Sinai Peninsula took place. “I left the following day,” he declared, “full of admiration and respect for the morale and spirit that the people of Israel had demonstrated. I feel that with such a spirit one can never be beaten no matter how much pain and suffering one must endure.”


Noting newspaper reports that Egypt is preparing to expel all of its 50,000 Jews, the JDC leader warned that “the all too familiar pattern of confiscation, internment, expulsion of a helpless, hapless minority is repeating itself. Will the world sit by and permit this crime to take place as it did in the past when Hitler set his SS men among the Jews of Europe?”

Mr. Leavitt reported that “in the three major areas of JDC work–Europe, Israel and North Africa–we are of course deeply affected by the tensions and upheavals that have and are taking place.” He said that “as the pressures, economic social and political, increase, the movement of Jews in North Africa to escape these pressures will mount. No one and nothing can keep the lid down on a boiling kettle, and regardless of the dangers and difficulties, those in danger will do everything possible to get away. Nothing more graphically illustrated this than the flight of the Hungarians to Austria. Despite blown-up bridges, icy marshes and Russian bullets, tens of thousands braved death and hardship for liberty and freedom. The same is true in North Africa.”

At a business session earlier in the day, the delegates from all parts of the country heard an eye-witness report from Charles H. Jordan, acting director general for JDC operations overseas, of conditions among Hungarian Jewish refugees in Austria. The JDC leader, who had left Austria only a week earlier, told the delegates that he could foresee no immediate decline in the influx of Hungarian refugees.

Mr. Jordan warned that “it is dangerous to continue thinking, as we have been thinking till now, of an emergency lasting a limited number of days and affecting a limited number of people. Despite the willingness of the nations of the free world to admit large numbers of Hungarian refugees, the problem in Austria continues to grow instead of diminishing.”

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