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British Deputies Protest Anti-mancroft Move by Chamber of Commerce

Sir Barnett Janner and 12 other Members of Parliament of all parties sent a joint letter today to the London Chamber of Commerce protesting the withdrawal of an invitation to Lord Mancroft, Jewish business leader, to become the Chamber’s next president. The action was taken by the Chamber under Arab boycott pressure.

The letter of Chamber president Lord Verulam expressed “considerable misgivings and surprise” over the development. The letter cited reports that the reason for the withdrawal was Lord Mancroft’s association with firms trading with Israel and others that the Chamber was yielding to Arab boycott pressures. “We hope very much that this is not so,” the deputies said in the letter, “and that the Chamber will reaffirm its previous statement that it was opposed to being influenced by such pressures and does not and will not countenance them.”

The “previous statement” was a reference to a stand in the Chamber’s journal, “Commerce,” early this year, reaffirming the Chamber’s support of resolutions adopted in 1956 by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce on the issue. The resolutions deplored the intervention of political questions in the field of international trade by recourse to “boycotts based on racial or religious criteria.”

CHAMBER TOP OFFICIALS HOLD SECRET MEETING ON MANCROFT CASE

Top officials of the Chamber held a secret meeting today to discuss the Mancroft matter. A statement was promised on the meeting, but after the two-hour session ended, no statement was issued. It was indicated that the question of a replacement for Lord Mancroft would be discussed tomorrow.

Press comment on the developments continued to be severely critical. The Daily Mail said that it was impossible to say how many British firms followed a policy of giving in to such Arab pressures but that “Israelis say that the boycott has more effect in Britain than anywhere else in the world.”

Since more firms give in to it, the newspaper said, greater Arab pressure on Britain is encouraged, adding that nowhere else had the Arabs tried to get a director removed from office — a reference to the forced resignation last year of Lord Mancroft from the board of the Norwich Insurance Company. The blame was placed partly on the fear by British businessmen of losing trade and partly on the Government’s Board of Trade, which was accused of paying only lip service to its official policy of opposing the boycott.

Britain’s trade dealings in the Middle East are handled through the Council for Middle East trade which has contacts with all the Arab countries. Israel has been refused membership in that Council. Britain does more than 200,000,000 pounds sterling ($600,000,000) export trade annually with the Arab countries and the Council has said that if it included Israel in its activities, some of the Arab countries would turn elsewhere.

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