NEW YORK (May. 15)
A prominent American diplomat and Catholic educator today called on moderate Third World leaders to work together with Christians and Jews in combatting anti-Semitic attacks “by a small handful” of Arab and African political figures. Dr. Thomas P. Melady, former U.S. Ambassador to Uganda and Burundi and director of the Office of International Studies at Seton Hall University, addressing a dinner meeting of the Interreligious Affairs Commission of the American Jewish Committee, pointed out that unless overt anti-Semitism was successfully and openly opposed by men of good will, genocidal acts against Jews and Gentiles could result.
The Commission dinner, which was presided over by Leonard C. Yaseen, Interreligious Affairs chairman, was one of a series just prior to the opening of the American Jewish Committee’s 68th annual meeting. The meeting starts tomorrow morning and continues through Sunday at the New York Hilton Hotel.
Citing personal experience while he was U.S. Ambassador in Uganda, Dr. Melady recounted that its President, General Idi Amin, had frequently made anti-Semitic statements, questioned the U.S. Ambassador about Jewish tourists and Jewish members of the Embassy staff, and expelled all Israeli citizens. While this was going on in 1971-72, Dr. Melady continued, “we placated General Amin. We acted under the assumption that he did not know any better. In those days we did not want to offend Amin as we did not want to offend Hitler in his early days of power.”
Subsequently, the former Ambassador continued, thousands of people in Uganda had been killed “in what appears to be selective genocide. Again, verbalized anti-Semitism has been followed by brutality.” Others who have openly preached anti-Semitism, Dr. Melady went on, have included King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and Col. Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator. All their outbursts have been treated with silence by world statesmen, the speaker insisted. To develop an effective barrier to the spread of such attacks, Dr. Melady declared private and governmental leaders of the West, as well as African leaders who have demonstrated their commitment to human rights, should be mobilized. Among the latter he listed the leaders of Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria and Senegal.
EXPLORE CHRISTIAN-JEWISH CONCERN
Turning to Catholic-Jewish relations in the U.S. Dr. Melady noted that one of the areas of what he termed irritation between the two groups that should be jointly explored is a feeling in “centrist Jewish communities” about a lack of concern by Catholics about Arab hostility toward Israel and Jews. “There is just Jewish concern about past Catholic inaction, not only in the Nazi era but, more recently, to some extent in 1967 and again in 1973,” he said.
Pointing to the progress in developing fraternal feelings between Jews and Christians in recent years, the Catholic educator urged that the utterances of a few articulate anti-Semites should not be allowed to cast a shadow on such advances. “Catholics, Protestants and Jews have a responsibility to speak out and to act whenever prejudice is articulated or implemented in their respective communities,” he declared.