France and England Advocate Reunion of Families at U.N. Discussion
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France and England Advocate Reunion of Families at U.N. Discussion

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The question of reunion of families–in which Jewish organizations are particularly interested in view of the fact that Jews in the Soviet Union are not permitted to leave the country to join their relatives in Israel and in other lands–was raised today by the representative of France at the session of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. The session is discussing a UN report advocating the right of everyone to leave any country, including his own.

Jean-Marcel Bouquin, the French delegate, told the session that the right to leave their country should be especially granted to members of groups discriminated against on the ground of religion or ethnic origin. He spoke at length on the “tragic problem” of broken-up families and stressed that they are entitled to reunion under paragraph 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Pointing out that the above paragraph makes it clear that everyone is entitled to exert his right to be reunited with his family, the representative of France said that thousands of families are now living separated by all kinds of walls and he urged the Sub Commission to give special attention to the problem and to appeal to governments to act to allow reunion of families without political considerations.

Peter Calvocoressi of Britain Joined in that appeal and added that the problem concerned hundreds of thousands of people.


Dr, Maurice Perlzweig, World Jewish Congress representative, told the mission that his organization appreciated deeply the report prepared for the Sub-Commission by Jose D. Ingles, Philippine delegate, as the Sub-Commission’s request and the recommendations therein acknowledging the right of everyone to leave a country, including his own. However, he added that he would like to emphasize that more place should have been given to the problem of reunion of families, a problem that concerns a Jewish community of 3,000,000 persons. These Jews, he said, must be given the right to associate in order to be able to practice the freedom to live. He said this was not only an individual right but also a collective one.

Without mentioning the Soviet Union, he said that “certain Jewish groups” who desire to maintain their cultural and spiritual traditions in Eastern Europe live in an atmosphere of “collective claustrophobia” caused by discrimination. He emphasized that the World Jewish Congress was not involved in the cold war and on the contrary, was anxious to contribute to the promotion of international understanding.

Nevertheless, he continued, this should not be allowed to stand in the way of the scrutiny of the practices of states whether of the East or the West which resulted in suffering or the abridgement of rights for large numbers of people. He strongly pleaded for understanding and human insight into the needs of Jewish groups which in order to maintain the values precious to them deserved to move from their present environments to places where these values and traditions can be cultivated in creative freedom.

Speaking on Poland, Dr. Perlzweig said that its leaders had shown a high degree of human insight in removing obstacles to Jewish immigration to Israel and elsewhere despite problems which this policy posed for them.

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