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U.S. Jewish Congressmen Divided on Israel’s Stand on Soblen Issue

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Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today told the House it was “astonishing” and “irrational” that “there should be people who have picked upon Israel as the culprit of the whole sad Soblen affair.”

Rep. Farbstein said it was “amazing” that no one here has lost patience with British legalistic quibbling as to methods of disposing of this case. Instead of handling the issue in a “straightforward” way, Britain decided to “pick upon Israel to act on its behalf,” he stressed. He pointed out that Israeli law, under the changed conditions arising from the delay in England, have put Israel in a situation where Israel’s flying of Soblen to New York would amount to “extradition, whereas Israel law permits no more than expulsion.”

At the same time Chairman Emanuel Celler, of the House Judiciary Committee, a veteran supporter of the Israeli and Zionist causes, today attacked the State of Israel for its role in the Soblen case. The New York Democrat caused surprise in capitol circles by a statement that he was “convinced the State of Israel must take it upon herself to break the impasse which has developed” in the matter of returning Soblen to the United States. He said “Israel should stop sparring” and return Soblen to New York.

Chairman Francis E. Walter, of the House Immigration subcommittee, today indicated that his subcommittee may be convened for early hearings on his bill, introduced yesterday, to terminate emigration from Israel because of the refusal of the El Al Israel Airlines to transport Soblen to the United States. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, of which the immigration body is a subcommittee.

Another bill submitted simultaneously by Rep. Walter to prohibit El Al Israel Airlines from landing in the United States was referred to the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce.

Rep. Celler said today that while the bill submitted to his committee providing for the punitive termination of emigration from Israel would “automatically” be referred to the immigration subcommittee under chairmanship of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Francis Walter, Mr. Celler would oppose cutting off Israel’s quota.

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