NEW YORK (Apr. 24)
Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, expressed “deep concern” today to the United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim at the “ongoing persecution” of the Jews of Syria by the Syrian authorities. Rabbi Yosef stressed that the free emigration of a people to the land of their choice is a basic humanitarian right and cited the right of emigration under the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
He maintained that, the Syrian authorities denial of the right of emigration was a grave violation of the Declaration, He also referred to reports of discrimination, arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of Syrian Jews by the Syrian authorities, and also mentioned increased obstacles lately put in the way of Soviet Jews who wished to emigrate. Waldheim told the Chief Rabbi of his efforts through methods of “quiet diplomacy” on behalf of Syrian Jews and Soviet Jewry–and assured Rabbi Yosef that these efforts would continue.
The Chief Rabbi is expected to voice his feelings on Syrian Jewry again when he meets next week with Vice-President Gerald Ford in Washington. Rabbi Yosef was accompanied to the offices of the Secretary General by Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah and Ambassador Ovadia Sofer. The U.S. visit of Rabbi Yosef is sponsored jointly by the American Sephardi Federation and the Sephardi Leadership Council of the United Jewish Appeal.