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Presidents’ Conference Bids United States Act to Aid Jews in Arab Lands

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The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations accused Egypt, Syria and Iraq today of a “systematic campaign of abuse” against the Jews in those countries, following the Arab-Israel war of last June. The organization said that “the barbarous treatment of innocent civilians of the Jewish faith in these lands has been attested to by witnesses of unimpeachable integrity.”

The Conference, in a statement endorsed by 22 national Jewish organizations, called on governments and religious and humanitarian organizations here and abroad “to demand that human rights and human dignity be restored to the defenseless victims of national and religious hatred.”

On behalf of the organizations affiliated with it, the Conference called on the United States Government “to take whatever steps may be necessary in its best judgment to alleviate the plight of the thousands of Jewish men, women and children in Egypt. Iraq and Syria who are being held as political hostages, victims of public abuse, private harassment and — at best — official indifference.”

Dr. Joachim Prinz of Newark, chairman of the conference, said that the Arab governments themselves “have not denied these atrocities which constitute a flagrant violation of the obligations of every member of the United Nations to promote and preserve human rights.” He charged that the governments of Egypt, Iraq and Syria had “carried out or tolerated cruel and inhuman treatment” of local Jewish populations and said this included “arrest, imprisonment, destruction of property, physical abuse and murder.”

The Conference made public a country-by-country survey of the plight of the Jews remaining in Arab lands. In Egypt, it said, some 350 persons were still being held incommunicado in Cairo and Alexandria prisons and their families left without means of livelihood. In Iraq, it said, “a veritable reign of terror” exists for the Jews. In Syria, it said, an unknown number of Jews had been arrested and held for ransom. None of the three countries permit Jews bearing their nationality to leave the country.

The report noted that Libya, “after an initial period” of mob violence, was permitting Jews to leave the country although mostly without their possessions. It also noted the “strong leadership” shown by President Bourguiba of Tunisia who halted attacks on the Jews and was permitting Jews to leave Tunisia each month.

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