GENEVA (Aug. 20)
The situation of the Jews in various parts of the world was reviewed here today by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, at the opening session of the four-day conference of the WJC executive board which is attended by more than 100 Jewish leaders from numerous countries. The conference will be combined with celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the World Jewish Congress.
In reviewing the international situation, Dr. Goldmann said that the Jewish people have no intention of taking a position in the cold war. However, he said, they must insist on the right of Jews not only to the equality of citizenship but also on the right of existing as a distinct Jewish group in all countries of the world, whatever the social and political regime there may be. He was especially referring to the situation of Soviet Jewry.
Touching on the situation of the Jews in North Africa, Dr. Goldmann said that the promises of the leaders of Morocco and Tunisia to recognize the Jews there as citizens has been kept, although some discrimination has occurred. The main problem, he said, was that freedom of emigration was practically denied to Jews in Morocco.
Dr. Goldmann denied reports that Jewish organizations have contacted Algerian rebel leaders. He emphasized that no plans exist for any such direct contact. Reviewing the position taken by the rebel leaders on the future status of Algerian Jewry in an independent Algeria, he expressed the hope that they would adopt toward the Algerian Jews the same position as toward French nationals, “allowing the Jews in Algeria to decide for themselves what status they would like to have.”
SITUATION OF SOVIET JEWS REMAINS ‘DIFFICULT,’ REPORT SAYS
The conference was presented with a report prepared by the WJC political department on the present situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union. The report said that the situation “remains acute and difficult.” It noted that some progress has been made recently in the field of Jewish culture, but stressed that “there is a painful absence of any improvement” in the general conditions under which the Jews live in the Soviet Union.
The report emphasized that there are “serious shortages of prayerbooks and ritual objects, ” and that the most important issue as far as Russian Jewry is concerned was “their enforced separation from their brethren abroad”–from their relatives and friends in Israel and in other countries.
Another section of the report dealt with the situation of the Jews in Cuba under the Castro regime. “Careful scrutiny, ” the report said, “has not been able to uncover any anti-Semitism whatever in Cuba. On the contrary, we are satisfied that the regime in power is determined to suppress any form of racial discrimination.”
However, the report noted in regard to Cuba, the social and economic changes in that country “have resulted in a complete transformation of the economic foundation upon which the Jewish community rests. As a result, it is no longer possible for them to maintain their institutions and services which had formerly been financed by members of the community. A large proportion of Cuban Jewry, once totaling about 10, 000, has left the island.”
‘INTERPOL’ ACCUSED OF INACTION IN EFFORTS TO APPREHEND NAZIS
The report disagreed sharply with the policies of Interpol–the International Police Organization–which was accused of “inaction” in efforts to apprehend former Nazis now hiding in various countries around the world.
Interpol’s “negative effort, ” the report declared, “has hampered the efforts of the West German Government toward bringing to trial those Nazis believed hiding in other countries. Interpol’s inaction has given the Nazis still at large an unexpected sense of safety and, in turn, may encourage them to make contacts with other Nazis and continue their abominable activities.”
The report pointed out that Interpol’s “failure to act on Nazi criminals is based on a constitutional prohibition against the organization’s intervention in matters having a military, political or religious character.” The rapporteurs, however, insisted that “the murder of 6, 000, 000 Jews by Nazi war criminals can not possibly fall within the scope of such a limitation on Interpol’s function.” The report urged strongly that Interpol review its policy in this respect and “assist the search for Nazi war criminals still at large.”
YOUNG LEADERS OF AMERICAN JEWRY PRAISED AT CONFERENCE
Samuel Bronfman, chairman of the North American executive of the World Jewish Congress, addressed the delegates, praising “the younger leaders of American Jewry.”
Pointing out that North American Jewry now is “the largest and potentially the most influential in the history of our people, ” Mr. Bronfman declared that “history charges us with the high, sacred duty, commensurate with our size and vigor. North American Jewry, he stated, must “marshal its forces in close cooperation with many other countries, which can best be done through the network of a stronger World Jewish Congress.”
“The size of our delegation, ” he added, “indicates there is this growing interest among the Jews of the United States and Canada in the work of our organization. It means that there is an increasing realization on their part that, through the World Jewish Congress, they can take action before misunderstandings become problems and often become dangerous situations. And they realize just as well that if trouble can be recognized in time, if preventive action can be taken by the World Jewish Congress to safeguard Jewish rights wherever they are threatened, then they can concentrate on the progress of their own respective community activities.”