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ADL Commends Brown for Ending Plan to Send Engineers to Saudi Arabia

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The Pacific Southwest regional office of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League has commended Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. for ending a plan to send California state engineers to Saudi Arabia to work on highways there because of the Saudis’ refusal to admit any person “with Zionist beliefs.”

Harry B. Schecter, director of the ADL regional office, said in a telegram to Brown that the ADL believes that “individuals seeking employment in Saudi Arabia have a perfect right to avail themselves of employment in that Arab country, but it is our contention that neither the State of California nor the federal government should be a party to a contract which would violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws.”

The State Transportation Department had devised the plan to send highway engineers, slated for layoffs in 1976, to build highways in Saudi Arabia. But Brown suspended the talks on the plan after complaints by state officials and civil rights organizations that the Saudi Arabian government would bar entry to Jews, Blacks and women.

VIOLATION OF LABOR CODE CITED

J. Anthony Kline, Brown’s legal secretary, who headed the investigation of the plan, said the state could not proceed with the project without violating the state labor code which bars the state from entering any contracts involving discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin, Kline said that “It came down to the fact that the Saudi Arabian government would not grant entry to Zionists. It is hard to tell exactly what they mean by Zionists…But in the end, realistically speaking, the Saudi government defines Zionists as all Jews.”

Kline said there was no evidence of entry discrimination by Saudi Arabia against Blacks and women. Public statements by State Transportation Department officials included remarks that Blacks and women would not be welcomed by the Saudi government, but transportation officials who went to Saudi Arabia in early stages of the talks denied that there had been any discussion of discrimination in the talks.

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