Congressman.charges State Dept. ‘appeasement’ of Arabs in Travel Curbs
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Congressman.charges State Dept. ‘appeasement’ of Arabs in Travel Curbs

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Rep. Seymour Halpern of New York told Secretary of State Dean Rusk this weekend that the State Department’s position on discrimination against American citizens of the Jewish faith by Saudi Arabia was “indicative of a tendency of appeasement.” The effect, he asserted, “is the translation of Arab bias into United States discrimination among its own citizens, officials and employees.”

The New York Congressman’s charges came in a letter replying to a communication from the State Department dealing with the refusal of Saudi Arabia to grant him a visa for a stopover at the Dharan airbase. The letter, signed by Brooks Hays, Assistant Secretary of State, said that, as long as the Arab-Israel conflict continued, the Arab States “will normally refuse entry to persons who have strongly supported Zionism or Israel. Rightly or wrongly, they view such activity as inimical to their security interests.”

The State Department official, dealing with Mr. Halpern’s question as to why Section 108 of the Mutual Security Act had not been invoked, said that “discrimination is a worldwide problem, and is scarcely likely to be eliminated by pressure or coercion. ” The clause gives-the President discretionary power to withhold Mutual Security aid from a country discriminating against American citizens because of their race or religion.

“What is required, ” said Mr. Hays, “is persistent, patient persuasion which will, hopefully, ultimately break down such disturbing practices.”


Alluding to the State Department reference to the Arab position that a visit such as his might be “inimical to their security interests,” Rep. Halpern said: “I find such reasoning a gratuitous insult to my patriotism as an American citizen, and certainly will insist that the Department defend my rights to travel freely abroad in any nation receiving U.S. assistance, on a basis of equality with any other American citizen. I hereby formally request the Department of State to assist me in obtaining the necessary visa for this contemplated private tour at my own expense.”

Rep. Halpern said: “My work and private travel are those of an American. They have nothing to do with my personal faith, and I am shocked that the Department is convinced that it would be ‘pressure and coercion,’ as you put it, to defend the rights of Americans abroad in nations benefiting from U.S. assistance programs.”

Rep. Halpern termed it “puzzling” that the State Department policy differed from that voiced by R, Sargent Shriver, Jr. , head of the Peace Corps, who told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Peace Corps would not assist nations that discriminated against its personnel on grounds of race on religion. Rep. Halpern said “the evasive and equivocal stand of the State Department is in sharp: contrast to that of Mr. Shriver. 1 can see no reason, if the Peace Corps can effectively insist on defending the religious and racial rights of its personnel, why the State Department cannot implement the same policy.”

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