TEHERAN, Iran (May. 8)
Angry clashes erupted here yesterday between the Soviet and Israeli delegates to the International Conference on Human Rights. At one point the session was interrupted for ten minutes in order to reach an agreement on whether Israel had the right to refer to the Soviet Union by name in the discussion of a resolution on the protection of minorities. Israel won the right by a vote of 26 to 16 with 18 abstentions. A Polish move to suspend debate on the subject for an indefinite period was defeated. At another point in the proceedings, during a discussion of human rights in occupied territories, the Soviet delegate, Yakov Lev, delivered a tirade against Israel which he charged, was worse than the Nazis in its treatment of Arabs. “While the Nazis were shooting people and killing them by poison gas, Israel tries to save the cost of bullets and let Arabs die of hunger and thirst in the desert,” he said.
He was answered immediately by the chief of the Israel delegation. Ambassador Michael Comay who said it was disturbing to see that, in addition to the 50 million Arabs who strove for Israel’s extermination, “a nation of 200 million has joined the attack on Israel.” Ambassador Comay read into the record exerpts from a letter which the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to the Human Rights Commission at its meeting in New York last year, dealing with the repression of Jews in Russia. Ambassador Comay also referred to the “doctors trials” of the Stalin era and said the Soviet Union would do better to put its own house in order before attacking others. Mr. Comay was interrupted repeatedly by the Soviet delegate who said afterwards that the Soviets would reply.
An angry debate was anticipated when, earlier this week, an Israeli delegate, Judge Zeev Zeltner, introduced a resolution calling on the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities to investigate the situation of minorities in various countries and submit a report to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Yesterday, Judge Zeltner brought up the subject of Soviet Jews. He was interrupted ten times by the Soviet delegate, Ostrowski, who shouted that “the hands of the Israelis are stained with blood.” He demanded that Justice Zeltner not be permitted to refer to any specific minority. This led the chairman to suspend the session to take up Israel’s right to refer to Soviet Jews.