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Jewish Groups Urging Carter to Ease Plight of ‘boat People’

June 26, 1979
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American Jewish organizations are urging President Carter to take action on the plight of the thousands of Southeast Asian refugees fleeing the Communist regime in Vietnam.

American Jewish Committee president Richard Maass sent a telegram to Carter asking him to double U.S. aortas for admission of the refugees and to provide necessary funding for such action. “As Jews who have suffered the trauma of being abandoned by the world when our brothers and sisters were being systematically put to death, we find it morally impossible to stand by idly while such destruction of human lives, all created in the sacred image of God, takes place before our eyes, ” Mass explained.

The American Jewish Congress sent a letter to Carter on the problem of the “boat people. A JCongress president Howard Squadron, recalling the horror of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, also urged the United Nations to use its influence to save the Southeast Asians.

Maxwell Greenberg, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith also asked the United States to take the lead in “spearheading an international movement to open up the doors of nations for the homeless victims of Vietnamese cruelty.” At the ADL’s 66th annual national commission meeting here recently, Greenberg announced the ADL’s plan to convene a meeting with leaders of religious and human rights groups to discuss the refugee problem.


Elie Wiesel, the noted writer and chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, made on appeal to all countries to provide asylum for the refugees. “I implore all countries to open their borders and to extend rights of refuge and asylum to the boat people,” Wiesel said. Pointing to the inhumanities of the Nazi period. Wiesel said, “We hope that this nation will grasp this clear opportunity to learn from the history of the Holocaust and not to err again.” Wiesel expressed confidence that President Carter in the “spirit” of his commitment to human rights and human dignity “will do all within his power to alleviate this situation and assume a leadership role in resolving this problem”.

Wiesel was joined in his plea by the National Coalition for Refugee Resettlement. The Joint Distribution Committee, HIAS, the A JCommittee are members of the Resettlement Committee.

Other Jewish groups have expressed their concern about the refugee problem. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia sent a letter to Carter and also made a plea to the Ambassador of Malaysia, Zain Azroai to ease Malaysia’s position on the boat people.

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