American Jewish Committee Appeals to United Nations Against Libya
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American Jewish Committee Appeals to United Nations Against Libya

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The American Jewish Committee today concluded its three-day executive board meeting with an appeal to the State Department and to the United Nations to intervene with the Government of Libya against her official policy of harsh oppression–religious, cultural and economic–against its Jewish citizens.

“These restrictive policies are carried out despite the fact that Libya was created by the United Nations which helped to frame the Libyan constitution,” the Committee pointed out. “The constitution promised equal rights to all citizens. Immediately following Libya’s recognition by the United Nations, a UN Mission to Libya was established and currently extends technical and economic aid to that country.

Disclosure of Libya’s flouting of UN principles and suppression of civil rights and civil liberties was based on information obtained last week from inside Libya, The report was made public yesterday by Committee president Louis Caplan who revealed that the following measures are now in operation against Jews:

1. Jews cannot vote, attain public office nor serve in the army or police.

2. The government is authorized by law to take title to “the properties of certain Jews.”

3. Jews are prohibited from acquiring new property.

4. All Jewish religious instruction and community affairs are regulated, and supervised by a Moslem Commissioner.

5. Jews cannot receive passports or certification of their Libyan nationality. If a Jew wants to leave the country he may obtain a special travel document which does not indicate that he has Libyan nationality. If he does not leave within six months after receiving the document, it expires and he automatically loses his nationality and property rights.

At the present time there is a new governmental decree in preparation which would compel all “non-Libyans”–this category includes Jews, despite their centuries of residence in the country–to register with the government all property they possess, the report indicated. It asserted that the Libyan press ceaselessly attacks the Jews and there are frequent mass demonstrations against Israel and France. Persons caught in possession of letters received from Israel even indirectly through other countries are jailed.

The 6,500 Jews currently residing in Libya are the remnants of a 1948 Jewish population of some 40,000. After pogroms in 1945 and 1948, more than 33,000 Libyan Jews emigrated to Israel. Those who remained relied on the assurances of the new Libyan constitution which guaranteed that “all subjects and aliens without distinction by race or religion shall enjoy all rights established by the Constitution.” In addition, they were encouraged by the Libyan government’s solemn commitments to equality of all its citizens, given when it was created by the United Nations.


Addressing the AJC national executive board meeting last night, Dr. John Slawson, executive vice-president, reported that a year-long study of youth involved in last year’s swastika epidemic has revealed that the youngsters came from middle class backgrounds and were not typical delinquents. The study showed too that extensive press, radio and television coverage of the religious vandalism had triggered widespread imitative acts among the youth, many of whom were found to be emotionally ill.

The study, begun last April and completed recently, was conducted by the Research Center of the New York School of Social Work, Columbia University, in cooperation with the American Jewish Committee. Research teams of social workers and sociologists, aided by psychiatric consultants, studied the of fenders’ backgrounds. The teams probed into the community and family environments of the youth, their psychological problems, their school records, neighborhood relationships, and all the complex factors contributing to the offenders’ personality structure.

Although the parents of boys who had engaged in the anti-Semitic vandalism denied any anti-Semitic tendencies, familiar anti-Semitic expressions were very much in evidence both among the boys and their parents during the interviews by the study team. The interviewers also concluded that the boys had a “fairly secure feeling” that anti-Semitic acts would not evoke too much criticism of the people in their surrounding environment, “not sanctions necessarily–just not disapproval.”

Jacob Blaustein, honorary president of the Committee and a member of the United States Delegation to the Tenth General Assembly of the United Nations, delivered a eulogy at today’s closing session for UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold whom he said had been “the world’s greatest practical exponent for peace and human rights.” He characterized the late world diplomat as a man who “knew that peace rests on the recognition and preservation of the rights of man.”

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