GENEVA (Mar. 3)
Twenty-one nations have called on the U.N. Human Rights Commission to issue a public condemnation of Syria’s ritual blood libel accusation against Jews, made by a Syrian diplomat at a session of the commission here on Feb. 8.
A letter making the request was sent last Thursday to Jan Martenson, the U.N. undersecretary-general for human rights.
It has been signed so far by the United States and the 12 member states of the European Community, as well as Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.
Daniel Lack, representative of the World Jewish Congress, denounced Syria for “a hideous anti-Semitic canard, reviving the notorious medieval blood libel.”
Lack observed that such statements would be the subject of criminal prosecution under the laws of many countries.
Earlier, David Littman, representing the World Union for Progressive Judaism, urged the commission to name a special representative to inquire “into the situation of the Jewish minority community in Syria, particularly the approximately 200 single Jewish girls and women who wish to leave their country of birth for the purposes of marrying abroad a person of their faith, but have been forcibly retained in Syria for years.”
Lack and Littman spoke in response to a Syrian attempt to contain the mounting outrage in and outside U.N. circles here over the blood libel.
An official letter was sent to Martenson on Feb. 19 with the imprimatur of the permanent representative of Syria to the United Nations.
It claimed, among other things, that Syria respects Judaism and is a country known for its tolerance. But it evaded the libelous content of its statement accusing Jews of ritual murder.
The statement was read by Nabila Shaalan, the second-ranking member of the Syrian delegation, at a session of the Human Rights Commission presided over by Martenson.
It strongly recommended that commission members read “a valuable book” called “The Matzah of Zion,” by Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas, which justified ritual murder charges brought against Jews in Damascus in 1840 for the death of a Catholic missionary.
According to Shaalan’s statement, the book “confirms the racist reality of Zionism” and proves that Jews have engaged in ritual murder.
Littman described the book as “ethnic pornography.”