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American Oil Co. Admits Not Hiring Jews for Work in Saudi Arabia

April 23, 1957
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Arabian American Oil Company today denied any discrimination against Jews in employment practices, but said it can not hire Jews to send to Saudi Arabia.

“We have to abide by the laws and practices of that country,” an Aramco spokesman said. “If we were to hire a Jewish engineer or technician, and apply for his visa to Saudi Arabia, it would not be granted.” He emphasized that “Aramco has no discrimination policies. In hiring personnel to work anywhere except in Arabia, we make no inquiry as to race or religion.”

“The Arabs do not want Jews in their country who might be suspected of working as Zionists in behalf of Israel with whom they remain technically at war,” the Aramco official stated.

The Aramco statement was made in connection with a complaint filed against the company yesterday by the American Jewish Congress with the New York State Commission Against Discrimination. The AJC called upon the Commission to forbid the Arabian American Oil Company from discriminating against Jewish applicants in recruiting civilian employes for work in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The oil company’s “disregard” of the rights of the Jewish citizens, the AJC alleged, “constitutes not only a serious affront and source of concern to the Jewish community, but a continued symbol of condoned and unchastened bigotry.”

In view of what the AJC calls Aramco’s “flouting” of the state’s anti-discrimination law, the Commission has been urged to halt the firm’s discriminatory employment practices and also to deny Aramco access to the New York labor market and New York advertising media in recruiting workers. The charges were detailed in a 31-page legal brief filed by the American Jewish Congress.

Aramco, the brief asserted, “does not challenge the truth” of the allegations that it discriminates against Jewish workers, and therefore the allegations “must be taken as admitted.” Aramco has taken the position that its discrimination is dictated by the Saudi Arabian government and is prompted by the visa policies of that country over which Aramco allegedly has no control.

In reply to the Aramco argument, the American Jewish Congress charges that the oil company, as an employer, is using the “attitudes and policies of another party as a shield or justification for its own discriminatory practices. The fact that here the business associate, at whose behest the discrimination is undertaken, is a foreign government and controls the entrance of persons to the site of the business operation does not change the basic defense nor elevate its status,” the AJC stressed.

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