U.S. Official Links Arab Boycott of Americans with Arab-israel Issues

A Department of Commerce official indicated here today that American citizens cannot expect easing of Arab boycott practices and discriminations until progress is made toward a “general solution of the Arab-Israel problem.”

The official, Bernard Blankenheimer, acting director of the Africa-Near East Division in the Department of Commerce, made it clear, however, that the Arab actions against Americans constitute “a matter of continuing and deep concern to our Government.”

Mr. Blankenheimer’s statement was made in response to a protest against Arab boycott and blockade tactics affecting American citizens, made by Joseph J. Barr, national executive director of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States. After receiving Mr. Blankenheimer’s reply, the executive of the veterans’ group again called for “positive steps” on the issue by the United States Government.

In his letter to Mr. Barr, replying to the latter’s original protest, Mr. Blankenheimer declared: “The boycott and other facets of the Arab-Israel problem, including the unfortunate circumstance by which nearly one million Arab refugees remain without permanent homes, can most effectively be treated by concerted international action.” He saw “progress toward a general solution of the Arab-Israel problem” as offering “the most effective prospects of abating all such discriminatory restrictions and related problems.” He said the United States Government would support “all concerted efforts toward this end.”

The official said that American companies may be assured that discrimination against them by Arab Governments “is a matter of continuing and deep concern to our Government. Their cases will be cited as we continue to register our Government’s disapproval of Arab boycott activities. Meanwhile, we shall continue to do what we can to facilitate progress toward a solution of the root problem from which these regrettable boycott and blacklisting practices stem.”

Commenting on the Government’s letter, Mr. Barr replied that “in our judgment, such action is not enough.” He wrote Mr. Blankenheimer that “we recall a time when this attitude, which we consider placid, was not the keynote of those activities which our Government mobilized to overcome such discrimination.”

“One of the finest moments in our history,” Mr. Barr continued, “came with the denunciation of the treaty of commerce and friendship with (Czarist) Russia because the Russian Government had exercised discrimination against Americans on account of their religious adherence… merely reiterating disapproval is not enough. Positive steps must be taken to make the disapproval by our Government and our people an effective action which will bring about an end to such practices and threats.”

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