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State Dept. Says No Bias Practiced in Assignments to Diplomatic Posts

March 15, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A report that the American Jewish Congress protested to Secretary of State Dean Rusk against the practice of excluding Jews from diplomatic posts in Arab countries, today elicited a reply by Robert McCloskey, State Department spokesman, that the Department does not have a policy of not assigning persons where they may be unwelcome.

Mr. McCloskey told a press conference that although some foreign nations might not accept American Jews, there was “no discrimination peruse” practiced by the State Department. He said that the Department could not explain — in view of Federal executive orders against listing of religious background of U. S. employes — how the Secretary of State determined the identity of Jews in making assignments to Arab states.

He was asked about a case last year in which Secretary of State Dean Rusk ordered subordinates to determine whether Malta would object to a U. S. ambassador of Jewish faith. Malta did not object. Ambassador George J. Feldman was assigned to that post. Mr. McCloskey indicated he had no knowledge of that specific episode but that this Government felt it necessary to obtain prior agreement on persons considered for assignment.

He denied reports that the State Department has in the past not assigned U. S. foreign service officers of Jewish faith to Israel. He stressed that the U. S. Government did not believe that acceding to wishes of other nations on U. S. personnel — in terms of the American’s personal background — was tantamount to a policy of discrimination by the United States.

At the conference, a quotation by Assistant Secretary of State Douglas MacArthur 2nd was cited. Mr. MacArthur had written Rep. Richard S. Schweiker, Pennsylvania Republican, that “while the United States does not normally take into account the religion of its employes in assigning them for duty abroad, this is regrettably a factor which cannot be ignored in the case of certain countries whose policies in this respect we cannot control, however much we disagree with them. “

Mr. McCloskey said he would have to confirm the authenticity of the quotation. Rep. Schweiker later displayed the signed letter by Mr. MacArthur containing the quotation cited. State Department sources meanwhile revealed that Mr. Rusk makes “informal inquiries” either directly to prospective appointees or to their colleagues when considering assignments to diplomatic posts where Jews might be unwelcome.

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