JERUSALEM (Apr. 9)
The Israel Government Tourist Office charged today that the American Express Company had surrendered to the pressure of the Arab boycott in closing down its operations in the State of Israel and had, more recently, prevented the Hertz Drive-Ur-Self Company from opening a branch in Israel. This is the first time that the State of Israel has publicly voiced its indignation against firms which give way before Arab pressure, and may be the beginning of a new policy in this direction.
The Israeli statement said that for the past two years Israel has been negotiating, unsuccessfully, with the American Express Company for re-opening of its branch in this country. (In New York, a spokesman for American. Express said that “for the time being” the company had no comment on the Israel statement.) The text of the statement reads:
“The American Express Company which is one of the largest travel and tourist agencies in the world has maintained an independent office in Israel since the time of the British Mandate and up to the beginning of 1956. In March 1956 the company closed its Israeli office, claiming that there is no commercial justification for its existence. The American Express Company left the management of its business in the hands of a local agent.
“We have been convinced beyond any doubt that the closing of the offices of the American Express Company was a result of yielding to the threats of the Arab boycott. During the last two years, the Government Tourist Corporation was in constant contact with the American Express Company asking them to re-open the offices, but with no results.
“During the last months the Government Tourist Corporation has been in contact with various firms in the field of ‘renting cars to tourists.’ Hertz Drive-Ur-Self was included in this contact. This company agreed tentatively to open a branch in Israel. We have been informed that the new partnership of American Express and the Hertz Company was a factor in the cancellation of the negotiations with the Hertz Company. This shows that not only did the American Express Company cease to function in Israel, but that it had kept another company from functioning there.
“Let us assume for the moment that the closing of the American Express office in Israel was indeed an outcome of a purely commercial consideration and that there was no commercial justification for its activities in 1956. Then we have to point out that since then other companies have widened their activities in Israel as a result of the mounting number of tourists in this country. The airlines have added many flights to Tel Aviv and the shipping lines have put in more or larger ships.
“The public should know that in spite of all this American Express Company not only did not re-open its offices in Israel, but is conducting a policy toward Israel which is in contradiction to every accepted commercial consideration.”