WASHINGTON (May. 14)
The United States is offering haven to Syrian Jews if they are able to get out of Syria, it was disclosed today. The offer is contained in a new letter defining U.S. policy on the matter of Syrian Jews which has been drafted by the State Department for circulation to persons inquiring about their plight. “In addition to trying to help Syrian Jews through diplomatic channels, the U.S. policy is that any Syrian Jew who reaches any one of seven designated countries may enter the United States under provisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Act as either refugees or on the basis of family relationships,” a State Department spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.
“The purpose clearly is to facilitate entry into America for Syrian Jews able to get away from Syria,” the spokesman said. Of the seven designated countries, only Lebanon is contiguous to Syria. The others are Austria, Belgium, France. West Germany, Greece and Italy. Once a Syrian Jew reaches one of those countries, he is eligible to apply for conditional entry into the U.S., an official told the JTA. He cautioned, however, that the processing of such applications “may take a long time.”
The new letter replaces one drafted earlier that defined the situation of Syrian Jews as an internal matter of Syria without expressing concern for their plight. A Department spokesman said today that the original letter had been in circulation about three weeks and that his “guess” was that about 50 copies had been sent to persons making inquiries about Syrian Jews. He said it was “technically impossible” for the Department’s public affairs bureau to send the “new standard response” to persons who had received the old one because the bureau does not keep “a log on public inquiries at large” though it does keep records of Congressional inquiries. (By Joseph Polakoff)