Presidents Conference Announces Steps to Help Jews in Iran

Following a special committee meeting on the situation confronting the 80,000 Jews of Iran, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said today it will establish regular liaison with U.S. Jewish groups operating in Iran to monitor the swiftly changing situation there and take immediate action if required. The Presidents Conference acted on the recommendation of Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization-American Section.

Mrs. Jacobson told the meeting that the Presidents Conference should be prepared to act immediately should conditions deteriorate and threaten the lives of the country’s Jewish population. If necessary, intervention with the White House and the State Department would be undertaken by the Presidents Conference to protect Jewish lives in Iran, she said. She noted that Iranian officials were currently not placing any obstacles in the path of Jews wishing to leave the country but that only a small percentage of Jews were taking the opportunity to do so.

ENCOURAGING IRANIAN JEWS TO EMIGRATE

Carl Glick, president of HIAS, said his organization was “actively encouraging” Iranian Jews to emigrate to Israel, although many Jews in Iran felt they could “ride out the storm.” Paul Bernick, executive director of the American ORT Federation, reported that the ORT school in Teheran was closed by the local ORT leadership, not the government, as a safety measure for the students and faculty.

Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the Presidents Conference, who chaired the committee meeting, said the Presidents Conference would continue to meet with HIAS, ORT and the Joint Distribution Committee and local representatives of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, a French Jewish institution which operates a network of schools in Iran.

Rabbi Bernard Rosensweig, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, and Rabbi Mordechai Waxman, former president of the Rabbinical Assembly, told the meeting that Iranian Jews who were members of their congregations–in Kew Gardens, Queens and Great Neck, N. Y. respectively–were “deeply concerned” about their family and friends still in Iran and hopeful but not optimistic that the situation would improve soon.

Meanwhile, according to reports from Teheran, Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar of Iran, in presenting his program to the lower house of parliament several days-ago, called for Iran to “fully support” its Arab neighbors, “especially the Palestinian people, in the goal of achieving their legitimate rights.” He reiterated that Iran would not resume oil shipments to either Israel or South Africa.”

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