NEW YORK (Nov. 5)
Despite cold weather, an estimated 8000 demonstrators massed for a rally today on behalf of Israeli prisoners of war captured by Egypt and Syria during the Yom Kippur War. The rally, under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was attended by demonstrators carrying American and Israeli flags and placards with slogans calling for the immediate release of the Israeli prisoners of war and condemning the “inhuman treatment” of the war prisoners by Egypt and Syria. Congressmen, New York mayoralty candidates and Christian religious leaders addressed the rally, held in Manhattan’s garment district.
Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah disclosed at the rally that, in addition to an earlier report that Syrians had murdered Israeli prisoners, there was “information of another place where Israeli soldiers were shot after having been taken prisoner. In one case, an imprisoned and wounded Israeli officer, who had difficulty walking was shot to death.” Tekoah also said that Egypt and Syria displayed Israeli prisoners on television and those prisoners were “forced to be photographed in humiliating positions.” He charged Egypt and Syria with flagrant violations of the Geneva Convention on treatment of war prisoners by refusing to transmit lists of prisoners they held.
The envoy also charged that Egypt and Syria were not concerned about the return of their prisoners held by Israel. He said, “it seems that humanitarian considerations play no role whatever in their thinking even in respect to their own men.” He said Egypt wants to free the trapped Egyptian Third Army to continue “to kill,” and he added that “savagery cannot be permitted to become a bargaining tool in international life.” Tekoah also said that Israel would attain its goals of secure boundaries and declared that Jerusalem will “remain forever united, forever Israel’s sacred capital.”
Sen. Jacob Javits (R.N.Y.) told the rally that where the United Nations rushed to enforce a cease-fire, when the Arab armies were near collapse, it did not show concern over enforcement of the Geneva Convention. He stated that one major aspect of the Mideast situation involves Israel being re-supplied with arms. Another aspect, the oil pressures by the Arabs, requires a summit meeting of heads of European nations and the United States to resolve the oil pinch. Javits said that “we will never forget the heroic stand of the Dutch people” against the oil squeeze and urged that the U.S. must help Holland. He declared that the United States must not “sell out” Israel for any reason, and not permit the Arabs to trade defeat for victory. He said it was in the interest of the U.S. to support Israel, and that appeasement, as past history showed, leads to war and disaster.
Mrs. Sylvia Pollack, of New York, a mother of an American POW in Vietnam who was imprisoned for five years and eight months, called on the governments of Syria and Egypt to release the names of the Israeli POWs, to permit the Red Cross to visit and to start negotiations for POW exchanges. Other speakers making similar appeals included Dr. James H. Sheldon, chairman of the executive committee of the Council of Churches of New York. Messages of solidarity arrived from Sen. James Buckley (C.N.Y.) and Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. Mrs. Rose Matzkin, president of Hadassah and vice-chairman of the Presidents Conference, presided. Demonstrators carried placards stating: “American Food Against Arab Oil”; “Hasten Exchange Of POWs”; “Assad and Sadat are War Criminals.”