Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

U.S. Accepts Arab Ban on Admission of Jews Serving in Armed Forces

August 2, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An exchange of letters with Secretary of the Air Force Harold E. Talbott revealing that the United States accepts the discrimination practiced by Arab states against Jews in the American armed forces, was made public here today by Senator Herbert H. Lehman.

A Jewish chaplain in the U.S. armed services drew Sen. Lehman’s attention to the section of the Air Force manual which states that individuals of Jewish faith will not be issued visas for Jordan and Saudi Arabia. “Why aren’t the rights of free passage through these countries demanded for all American citizens regardless of their religion or creed”# the chaplain asked in his letter to Sen. Lehman. “Why does our government recognize a religious distinction in the partial distribution of international privileges accorded to its traveling citizens.”

Senator Lehman in relaying the chaplain’s queries to the Defense Department said:” My objection is not directed, of course, against the quoted language in the manual, but against our tolerance of the condition to which the regulation is directed.”

Secretary Talbott replied that Arab restrictions are “not within the prerogative of the State Department or the military to change.” He said that Saudi Arabia and Jordan do not issue visas to persons of the Hebrew “race” for reasons of internal security and that these regulations apply to American Jews as well as to Jewish people of all nations.

Taking issue with this reply, Sen. Lehman wrote: “I had hoped that far from simply taking cognizance of the matter, the Air Force would use its influence to the extent possible to see that this discrimination was not practiced against Americans who were serving their country in the Air Force.” To this Secretary Talbott answered that the Air Force has worked “ceaselessly” to put an end to regulations of this nature that effect American citizens, but added that the Arab regulations are enforced by foreign governments and are “not within the prerogative of the Air Force to change.” He indicated that the exchange of letters is being forwarded to the Department of State for its consideration.

Recommended from JTA