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Eban, Board of Deputies of British Jews Concerned over Fate of 40 Iraqi Jews

Foreign Minister Abba Eban expressed “great concern” last night over the fate of about 40 Iraqi Jews reportedly awaiting trial in a Baghdad jail. Reliable sources said at least three of the Jews face summary execution and that death sentences may be pronounced on several others. Eban said “this serious development is yet another reminder of the sad state of Iraqi Jews.” He dismissed an “off-the-cuff” denial by the Iraqi Embassy in Paris that any Jews are being held. “There are rumors that the Iraqi rulers intend to stage executions of Jews,” Eban said. “We should like to believe that the Iraqi rulers would not dare to repeat the barbarity of public hangings in the squares of Baghdad and that the civilized world will not stand by idly.” He said “The Israel government has taken and will continue to take all possible steps and will not rest until there is an end to the persecution of Jews in Iraq and in other Arab countries and until these Jews are freed.” (In London today, a delegation representing the Board of Deputies of British Jews presented a letter to the Iraqi Ambassador expressing “shock” over reports on the fate of the 40 Iraqi Jews. The letter, signed by Board president Michael Fidler and Lord Janner, also referred to reports that 136 Jewish men, women and children were facing trial in Iraq. It appealed to the Iraqi government to act in accordance with human rights concepts permiting any person to leave any country including his own.)

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