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Jewish Group Requests U. N. Body to Draft Declaration on Religious Bias

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An appeal to the United Nations urging immediate action by the UN Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities on formulating a draft declaration against religious discrimination–practiced against Jews in the Soviet Union–was submitted today by the World Jewish Congress to UN Secretary-General U Thant.

The Subcommission opened its annual session here yesterday, but it was doubtful whether its discussions will reach the point of formulating a declaration on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, in accordance with UN General Assembly instructions. The session is scheduled to devote its discussions primarily to racial discriminations as distinct from religious bias.

In submitting the World Jewish Congress appeal, Dr. Maurice L. Perlzweig, WJC representative here, pointed out that the General Assembly requested this formulation as far back as 1962, and that “at least two years must now elapse” since the request was made, before the General Assembly can act on a draft. He added that “in view of the gravity of the issues involved, and the disabilities under which adherents of religious continue to suffer,” the WJC calls for a special effort to formulate a draft declaration.

The WJC memorandum drew attention to two important problems with which the declaration should deal. It pointed out that one of these problems has already been defined by the Subcommission in the following principles that it had submitted some years ago.

“1. The members of a religion or belief shall not be prevented from acquiring or producing all materials and objects necessary for the performance or observance of prescribed rituals or practices, including dietary practices; and 2. Where the Government controls the means of production and distribution it shall make such materials or objects, or the means of producing them, available to the members of the religion or belief concerned.”

To deny the enjoyment of such facilities, the WJC stated, “amounts to a form of religious intolerance of a kind which must have the effect of gravely jeopardizing the survival of the religions concerned.” It also urged that “in any draft declaration, the free movement of ideas and persons across frontiers, and the rights of assembly and association on an international scale, should be clearly reaffirmed.”

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