NEW YORK (Aug. 8)
The American Jewish Committee today called upon the Carter Administration “to clarify” news reports from Saudi Arabia that American Jewish reporters accompanying Secretary of State Cyrus Vance were presented on arrival to Saudi Arabia with hotel registration cards with “Christian” filled in as their religion.
In a statement issued here, Richard Maass, AJCommittee president, said: “The AJC-calls upon the Administration–and especially the State Department–to clarify the almost unbelievable news reports that immigration applications of Jewish correspondents accompanying Secretary of State Vance in Saudi Arabia had been submitted with the word ‘Christian’ inserted.
“If this was simply a stupid oversight by an inexperienced minor official perhaps it can be forgiven with a reprimand. But if this is the policy of the Department we demand an immediate apology and a definite pledge that such a medieval ploy will never be repeated.”
According to news reports, some of the reporters who arrived with Vance in Taif, the Saudi summer capital, were Jewish and at least three of them reportedly changed their cards at the hotel. An American official accompanying Vance was asked why all the reporters were identified as Christians. He replied that immigration cards had to be filled out in advance to speed registration at the hotel in Taif. A counselor with the American Embassy in Taif said the cards were filled out in advance to save time “with no thought at all to anyone’s religion.”