NEW YORK (Feb. 19)
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will establish a central body to coordinate efforts to counter Arab propaganda in the United States. This was announced today by Rabbi Israel Miller, Conference chairman. Expressing concern over intensified Arab propaganda here, which according to Rabbi Miller, is “much more subtle and clever” than it used to be, he said that the new central body would include Jewish organizations and individuals alike in order to have a unified approach in dealing with the Arab propaganda, Rabbi Miller said that the Presidents Conference is requesting the State Department and the City of New York to deny official diplomatic recognition to any representative or office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is supposed to arrive here for the next UN General Assembly.
Rabbi Miller disclosed that he met last week with John Scali, the United States Ambassador to the UN, and discussed with him the question of the PLO treatment on the part of the U.S. According to Rabbi Miller, the questions raised were the granting of a diplomatic status and diplomatic immunity to the PLO, the intention of the PLO to create a semi-governmental agency in the United States, and the request by the PLO to be listed in the UN Directory.
Rabbi Miller added that Scali was “very sympathetic in terms of his recommendation that the United States government will take a strict stand” on the PLO issue. He also disclosed that the Presidents Conference requested a meeting with Mayor Abraham Beame of New York to discuss the PLO and to tell the Mayor that “the American Jewish community is unanimous in its feeling that the PLO be not accorded any official diplomatic status when its leaders come to New York as UN observers.”
Turning to the Middle East issue, Rabbi Miller said that the Presidents Conference will be requesting a meeting with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger very soon to discuss his recent exploratory mission to the Middle East. He also declared that the American Jewish community “will stand behind whatever steps the Israeli government will or will not take in the next steps of negotiation” with the Arabs.
EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF SYRIAN JEWS
Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the Presidents Conference, who opened the press conference, announced that the Presidents Conference was intensifying its efforts on behalf of the 4500 Jews in Syria. He reported that more than 1000 communities throughout the country have reported their intention of observing this weekend as a Shabbat of Remembrance to call attention to the plight of Syrian Jewry.
The Presidents Conference also opened a campaign to collect about one million signatures on a petition to be presented to President Ford asking him to intervene personally to urge the President of Syria, Hafez Assad, to insure the human rights of Syrian Jews and to bring the Syrian government to permit their emigration. Hellman also disclosed that apart from Israel, several other countries have already expressed their willingness to accept Syrian Jews.