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John F. Kennedy Administration: Memorandum on Discrimination by Arab States Against American Jews

(May 29, 1962)

This memorandum concerns the discriminatory treatments that American Jews are facing when they travel to Arab States.

Memorandum From the President's Deputy Special Counsel (Feldman) to the National Security Council Executive Secretary (Smith)/1/

Washington, May 29, 1962.

Discrimination by Arab States

On April 30, the American Jewish Committee met with the President and raised a number of problems concerning the treatment of American citizens by Arab States./2/ I was present at the meeting, and the President asked me to find out:

1. To what extent his conversations with King Saud regarding visas to American Jews were being implemented.

2. What efforts are being made, and what are the prospects for the success of those efforts, to eliminate restrictions on travel by American Jews in the Arab States.

3. What efforts are being made by the State Department to discourage cooperation by American companies that are being requested to furnish information regarding the religion of their officers and owners when they seek to do business with the Arab States.

I requested a report from the State Department immediately, and I have repeated this request on two occasions, but I have thus far received only promises that they are working on it. I would appreciate it if you would do what you can to speed the State Department memorandum to me and to maintain a continuous observation of these matters./3/

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, United Arab Republic, 3/62-5/62. No classification marking.

/2/The President met with members of the American Jewish Committee from 12:20 to 12:46 p.m. on April 30. (Kennedy Library, President's Appointment Books)

/3/A May 29 memorandum from Brubeck to McGeorge Bundy transmitted a 3-part memorandum prepared in the Department of State, in response to a request from President Kennedy, conveyed by Feldman to Talbot, that the Department prepare by July 1 "a recapitulation of U.S. courses of action aimed at (1) lessening tension in the Near East, (2) eliminating barriers to travel by American citizens in the area, and (3) alleviating the impact of the Arab boycott on American businessmen." The covering memorandum described the memorandum as "interim" and indicated that a final draft would be transmitted before July 1. A copy of the May 29 memorandum and its attachments are in Department of State, Central Files, 611.80/5-2962. The final paper is printed as Document 314.

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.