U.S. Comments on ‘jewish’ Hostages

The State Department’s Office for Counter-Terrorism said today it was “repugnant and reprehensible” for the hijackers of TWA Flight 847 to have separated “Americans of the Jewish faith” from the other hostages “because of ‘Jewish-sounding names’ or supposed ‘Zionist links.’”

But that statement, which gave the impression that the U.S. was confirming that the hostages with Jewish-sounding names are in fact Jewish, was promptly clarified by another State Department spokesman who said the original statement was merely quoting a wire service report.

The statement by the Counter-Terrorism Office noted that Lebanese Justice Minister Nabih Berri, leader of the Shiite Moslem militia, Amal, “has assumed responsibility for the safety of the hostages. We take this assumption of responsibility seriously, and underscore our view that this responsibility extends to all the hostages.”

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