Major Jewish organizations today announced that they considered unsatisfactory the explanation of Secretary of the Army Frank R. Pace, regarding discrimination against Jewish workers by Army contractors in recruiting labor for military construction projects in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Pace had stated that neither the Army nor its contractors practiced discrimination, but that it avoided hiring Jewish workers for the Saudi Arabian project because Saudi Arabia refused to grant visas to Jews.
The Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans of the United States and Union of American Hebrew Congregations, through the National Community Relations Advisory Council, coordinating body for them and for 27 local Jewish councils throughout the country, addressed a letter to Dwight R. G. Palmer, chairman of the Committee on Government Contract Compliance, declaring:
“We take note of the statement of Hon. Frank Pace, Jr., Secretary of the Army, that contractors recruiting workers in this country for military construction in North Africa have conformed to the policies laid down by President Truman barring discrimination based on race, creed, color or national origin in the recruitment of such workers. We also note, however, that contractors are, in fact, discriminating against workers of Jewish faith in recruiting for military construction in Saudi Arabia. Although the contractors assert that they are doing so contrary to their own wishes, and solely because Jews are refused visas for entry into Saudi Arabia by officials of that country, the net result is discrimination on government contracts in clear violation of Executive Order 10308.”
The Jewish organizations asserted that acceptance of this Saudi Arabian policy without objection would be for the United States “to acquiesce in undemocratic discrimination against American citizens by a foreign power with which we are cooperating for the defense of world democracy,” In their letter, they called attention to a precedent for dealing with such situations established during the administration of President Taft. At that time, they pointed out, in retaliation against Russia’s refusal to grant visas to American citizens, including those of Jewish faith, the United States abrogated its trade treaty with Russia.
“It is our belief,” the letter stated, “that the government of the United States, if it is to remain true to its basic democratic principles, must advise the government of Saudi-Arabia that it will not accept the discrimination against U.S. citizens practiced by that country in granting visas, and will insist that Saudi-Arabia admit those American citizens hired by our country to work on military construction there.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.