Jewish Leaders Excoriate Austria
Menu JTA Search

Jewish Leaders Excoriate Austria

Download PDF for this date

Jewish leaders in this country excoriated Austria’s announced decision to close facilities for Jews enroute to Israel and termed it a capitulation to the blackmail of Arab terrorism. At the same time they expressed hope that the decision was only a temporary one and appealed to the Austrian government to reverse itself. Jacob Stein, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, announced that the Conference will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow morning to deal with the Austrian government’s decision and to plan united action.

Stein and Richard Maass, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, sent telegrams to Arno Halusa, Austria’s Ambassador to the United States, declaring:

“This yielding to the blackmail of Arab terrorists is immoral and unbecoming to a sovereign state. At a time when the Congress of the United States is declaring in the clearest’ terms its concern for the right of free emigration, action by the Austrian government in refusing entry to Israel is reprehensible and merits the condemnation of the entire civilized world.

“The history of Jews deported from Austria to death camps during World War II remains a black page in the annals of human relations. Today, Jews who are seeking freedom are entitled to Austria’s complete and continuing cooperation. We call on the government of Austria to reconsider its position and not to surrender to Arab terrorists but to reopen its gates to Jews seeking freedom.”

Stein also sent a telegram to United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim urging him to use his full official weight with the Austrian government to reverse its decision “which is a blatant violation of international rights and obligations and a frightening reminder of Austria’s attitude toward Jews during the pre-World War II days.”


Bertram H. Gold, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, expressed the hope that Austrias decision was temporary and that Austria’s “customary hospitality” would be

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress, urged President Nixon “to use every possible influence on the government of Austria to reverse its shameful capitulation to Arab terror.” Austria’s decision, he stated, “affronts not only those seeking to emigrate from the USSR; it threatens the very basis of international order and national sovereignty, including our own.” The U.S. and every member of the world community has a direct interest in seeing to it “that national policy and international obligations are not to be at the mercy of a handful of killers,” he said, adding that “surrender to blackmail leads only to more blackmail.”

Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the American Zionist Federation, sent a telegram to the Austrian Ambassador in Washington urging him “to make known to your government the deep sense of indignation and outrage we feel at the capitulation of the Austrian government….We urge your government to rescind its outrageous and shameful surrender to those terrorists. Any other action will serve to encourage terrorist elements everywhere and bring disgrace upon the Austrian people and government.”

David M. Blumberg, president of B’nai B’rith, in a telegram to the Austrian Ambassador urging that his government reverse its “inexplicable decision,” said it was “incredible that Austria would abruptly forbid the humanitarian purposes” of the camp by an “ignominious action that suggests it will submit to the dictates of a couple of gunmen. It is shocking to the point of absurdity that a free nation, and indeed, the international community, will allow itself to be reduced to paralyzed submission by the gangster bravado that has been the ploy of the Arab terrorist movement.”

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