Presidents Conference Blames Greece for Acts Leading to Hijacking
Menu JTA Search

Presidents Conference Blames Greece for Acts Leading to Hijacking

Download PDF for this date

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today sharply assailed the Greek government for having played host to “terrorist leaders” and welcoming them as “heads of state.”

“We condemn all those governments including. Greece that have welcomed terrorist leaders and treated them as heads of state thus validating and encouraging terrorism everywhere,” Presidents Conference chairman Kenneth Bialkin declared in a statement.

Bialkin also criticized Greece for having failed to maintain adequate security precautions at its airports in order to prevent hijackings. The heavily armed Shiite Moslem hijackers of TWA flight 847 boarded the plane in Greece, apparently slipping through security checkpoints.

Furthermore, Bialkin said the Presidents Conference deplored the decision by Greek authorities to exchange a small group of Greek nationals for one of the Shiite hijackers who did not board the plane in Athens with the other hijackers.


“We deplore the Greek authorities for cravenly surrendering the terrorist they had captured in exchange for a handful of Greek nationals aboard the plane disregarding utterly the fate of the other passengers who are not Greek,” said Bialkin.

Continuing, the statement said: “We express our horror and revulsion at the racist philosophy that lies at the essence of Arab terrorism. These hijackers and killers — whether Shiite Moslems or PLO members — are not freedom fighters but gangsters motivated by hate. Arab Moslem terrorism is the scourge of the modern age. It must be destroyed lest it destroy the West.

“But Arab terrorism will never be eliminated as long as there are governments and politicians that receive and welcome their leaders. Our country has acted carefully and correctly in this latest crisis but surely the murder, the beating and the kidnapping of the hijack victims — selected as in the days of Hitler because they are Jews — cannot go unanswered. All Americans await the appropriate response.”


Meanwhile, the Rabbinical Council of America, representing 1,000 Orthodox Rabbis, described as an “affront to human dignity of the worst order” the hijackers’ selection process whereby Jews were separated from persons of other races and religions during the hijacking of the TWA airliner.

Rabbi Milton Polin, first vice president of the RCA, compared the taking of the Jews off the plane while in Beirut and the separation of them from the others with the selection process in the Nazi concentration camps by the infamous Auschwitz death camp doctor, Josef Mengele. Polin urged all rabbis and clergy to hold prayer meetings for the safety of the hostages.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund