Australian Jewry Offers Aid to Jews Forced to Flee from Indonesia

The Australian Jewish community offered today its assistance to any Jews forced out of Indonesia in the current anti-Dutch disorders. The offer was made by Sidney D. Einfeld, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, to the Dutch community in this city. He pledged that his organization would provide temporary accommodations and other care to Indonesian Jews expelled or fleeing from their country.

The Indonesian Jewish community has dwindled since the end of World War II from some 2,000 to 450, chiefly Iraqi Jews with a sprinkling of European Jews. The main center of Jewish community life, meagre as it is, is in Surabaja where the only synagogue in the country is located. There are 80 families in that city, 30 in Jakarta where the Jewish community of Indonesia is located and a number of other families in Bandung H. de Vries is president of the community.

Since the Indonesians took over control of their own country the economic position of the Jews has worsened. Together with other non-natives in the population, they have been forced out of business and well paid positions by government regulations and laws aimed at putting control of the economy in the hands of Indonesians.

The Jews of Indonesia have become increasingly restive under the economic disabilities and the anti-alien atmosphere complicated by the fact that the preponderant portion of the population is Moslem. Because of pressure from the Arab League, which is extremely active in the country, the Indonesian Government has withheld recognition from the State of Israel.

The World Jewish Congress was in communication with the community three weeks ago when an attempt was made to have Jacob Halevi of the British section, who was in the area, meet with community leaders in Jakarta. However, Mr. Halevi’s plane landed very far from the city and, because of the state of martial law in effect at the time, was unable to contact the Indonesian Jews.

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