FLORENCE, Italy (Oct. 7)
The opinion that the Mediterranean Conference of Christians, Moslems and Jews residing in countries along the Mediterranean shores holds a promise of “reconciliation” among the three civilizations, was expressed here last night by Moulay Hassan, Crown Prince of Morocco who, presided at the parley.
Addressing the closing session, he said: “The three civilizations co-existing on the Mediterranean must find understanding.” He invited all participants to a second Mediterranean Conference to be held in Morocco. Delegates from Israel were among the principal speakers at the conference, and Arabs and Israeli participants mixed freely during the session exchanging views. This was the first time since the establishment of Israel that Israelis and Arabs met jointly to discuss common problems.
Speaking in Arabic, Roustom Bastoune, an Israel Arab and member of the Mapam executive committee, told a session attended by all the Arab delegates that Israel-Arab peace was a necessary step “because Israel is an integral part of the Middle East and participates with Jordan, which has been transformed into a homeland for the Palestine refugees, in a common destiny.” He added that he was “proud” of the Islamic cultural and religious heritage while understanding Israel’s return to “the motherland with the goal of reconstructing its national life.”
“The Israeli Arabs,” he continued, “symbolize the historical necessity of cooperation between the Jewish progressive national movement and the Arab liberation movement.” Within Israel, he said, Jews and Arabs fight in a common movement for equality and the abolition of all discrimination against the Arab minority.
ARABS DELIVER MODERATE SPEECHES; ISRAELIS PROPOSE COOPERATION
The speeches of the Arab participants were moderate and Israelis, attending in a non-governmental capacity, refrained from replying sharply to what they considered objectionable statements. Reuven Barkatt, leader of the Israel delegation and member of the Histadrut executive committee, said he would refrain from replying to “hurtful and incorrect statements made by certain speakers.” He said the Israel participants were bringing a message of peace to the conference.
Noting that Israel had contributed to the place which the Middle East “holds in human civilization,” Mr. Barkatt offered to share with Israel’s Arab neighbors the social, economic and cultural achievements of Israel in a spirit of “equality and cooperation.” He praised the cultural and economic exchanges between Israel and many Asiatic-African countries and he advocated “sincere collaboration” between the workers in Israel and in the Arab countries.
Allal el Fassi, Morocco’s Istiqulal party president, said the history of Morocco demonstrated his country’s belief in the principle of equal rights for all without regard to color or creed. The proof, he said, was that in Morocco Jews were allowed to “thrive” and in the proclamation of equality of Jews and Moslems after Morocco achieved independence.
The Moroccan leader said that there was also “the problem of occupation of countries,” which he called “the central problem.” The Jewish people, he said, had the right to establish a Jewish State but they should not have sought “the Arab homeland.” Acknowledging “the ability and dynamism of the Jews, who have always been active elements in all civilizations.” he said Israel must not forget the problem of the Arab refugees.
MOROCCAN DELEGATE EXPRESSES HOPE FOR ARAB-ISRAEL PEACE
Asking that Israel take back all the Arab refugees, the Moroccan leader said discussion on such issues “must take place elsewhere.” He concluded with an expression of “faith and determination” for the achievement of peace between Jews and all the Arab countries.
Georges Henein, an Egyptian poet and writer, called the 1948 Palestine partition a “physical tragedy like vivisection.” He said: “Problems cannot be resolved by resuming the tradition of displaced person. Anti-Semitism is a European phenomenon and the Arabs should not suffer separations because of the disasters of European life.”
Adel Sabet, Egyptian editor, declared that Islam requires of its followers that they respect Christianity and Judaism. Arab nationalism, he said, originated from a revolt against Western power politics. Arab relations with the West since the Crusades, he said, has been dominated by solutions sought by force. He criticized the creation of Israel “without consideration of the rights and justice due to the Arabs, causing more than 1,000,000 Arabs to be forced out to make place for the European refugees.”
(Joseph Golan, World Jewish Congress official in Italy who attended the Mediterranean Conference in Florence, was not representing the Congress at the Conference, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, President of the Congress, said in Jerusalem today. Dr. Goldmann said the WJC was not invited to attend the conference. He added that he had been invited to attend on a personal basis but that he had decided not to participate because of his position as WJC president.)