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December 25, 1969     The Jewish Transcript
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December 25, 1969
 

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PAGE 2 THE JEWISH TRANSCRIPT DECEMBER 25, 1969 Ex-Captives Tell Story Of Abuse, Hate, in Syrian Jail TEL AVIV, (JTA) -- Joy was boundless at Lydda Airport ear- lier this month when the two hi- jack victims were reunited with their families after more than three months' captivity in Da- mascus. Prof. Samueloff and Mr. Muallem were embraced by their wives and children and received warm handshakes from Premier Golda Meir, Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Minis- ter of Transport Moshe Carmel. The men, unshaven and wear- ing open collar shirts looked worn and haggard as they re- counted their ordeal. Mr. Mual- lem, who speaks fluent Arabic said he was beaten and tortured for days as the Syrians attempt- ed to extract military informa- tion intelligence he could not have given since he was excused from military service for health reasons. He said the Syrians wanted to know about tanks and planes. They questioned him, took him into a darkened room where he was beaten and finally threw him into solitary confine- ment, later he was placed in the same cell with Prof. Samueloff, he said. The professor said he was subjected to psychological tor- ture. "We came face to face, with hatred," he said. "We do not hate-them, ahd yet such hatred as they showed for us I have never seen in my life." Prof. Samueloff said the only Syrian who was humane was a young doctor who treated both prisoners. The others, he said, "have a very different concep- tion of humanity, human rights, liberty and of human treat- ment." Both men said that during incarceration they read chapters and Psalms from a Bible which Mr. Muallem's family sent them in a Red Cross parcel. Mr. Mual- lem also gave Prof. Samueloff lessons in Arabic. "So the days passed," Prof. Samueloff said later at his home. He said he felt like the Gestapo was present every time a Syrian came into his cell. He said that when he was permitted to write to his family, a Syrian once looked over his shoulder as he tried to put down a few innocuous lines. "The Syrian seemed to enjoy his job. My hands were trembling. At that moment I could have / killed him," he said. There was an equally poig- nant if more quiet scene of reu- nion at a military hospital where two downed pilots exchanged for 58 Egyptian war prisoners saw their families for the first time in months. Maj. Nissim Ashken- azi and Capt. Giora Romm were greeted by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and chief of Staff Chaim Bar Lev. Both said they were held in solitary confine- ment and neither was aware of the other's presence until freed. Capt. Romm's first question af- ter his release was, "who won the elections?" The exicitement of having the prisoners home overshadowed, .... at least for the time being, the : : fact that Israel had to yield to a kind of "blackmail" to secure | their release, observers said. l This 4as a bitter pill especially for government officials who said repeatedly that Israel would not exchange legitimate war prisoners for illegally held, hi- jacked civilians. But Gen. Dayan conceded later that no military action could have brought the. prisoners home alive. ISRAELIS WERE TORTU RED Syria, Egypt Denounced In Recent Prisoner Swap JERUSALEM, (JTA) -- Premier Golda Meir had bitter words for Syria and Egypt as she revealed details of the three- cornered deal by which Israel exchanged Syrian and Egyptian prisoners of war for two Israeli civilians held in DamascUs since Aug. 29 and two downed Israeli fighter pilots imprisoned in Egypt. The civilians, Prof. Shlomo Samueloff, 49, of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and Sallah Mual- lem 44, a Tel Aviv travel agent, were passengers aboard a TWA airliner hijacked to Damascus by Arab commandos. The two pilots, Maj. Nissim Ashkenazi and Capt. Giora Romm, were seriously injured when they bailed out of their jets over the Suez Canal months ago and were held in solitary confinement in a Cairo prison hospital. In an official statement, Mrs. Mdr denounced Damascus as "the capital of international pir- acy" and accused the Egyptian authorities of callous and inhu- mane treatment of the two in- jured pilots who wre denied vis- its by representatives of the In- ternational Red Cross during most of their imprisonment. Mrs. Meir listed the interna- tional agencies that had tried in vain to secure the release of the hijacked Israeli civilians. She said that at first Syria refused unconditionally to free the two Israelis. But gradually, through intermediaries, a deal was evolved involving not only Syri- an but Egyptian prisoners in Israel. The premier made it clear that the idea of an ex- change was distasteful to the Israel Government because it required the return of legiti- mately held prisoners of war for civilians whose detention was in gross violation of international law. Eventilally, the-Israeli Cabi- net agreed unanimously to ex- change, Mrs. Mier's statement said, but the Syrians continued to stall. Finally the exchange was carried out in two stages. Maj. Ashkenazi and Capt. Romm were reportedly in poor t0000!JJ TRI:I n scRIPT EUGENE L WASSERMAN Editor arid General Manoi[er 606 Securities Building Soittll, Washington 98101 Second Glass postage paid at Seattle, Washington Issued Semi-Monthly Subscription Gate - $3 Per Year' SECOND FRONT PAGE ii condition when ferried across the canal. They were taken to a hospital where both will undergo treatment for several months. An Israeli spokesman said they suffered fractures of hands and legs. Israeli doctors who exam- ined the pilots said their medical care in Egypt was inadequate. At the UN, Mr. Thant "warm- ly welcomed" the Israelis' re- lease but said he could not be certain whether his good offices had been instrumental. News of the release came just before the General Assembly's legal committee approved a resolution urging all government to insure that hijackers are punished. Cuba cast the only dissenting vote in the 67-1 decision, and the Soviet bloc and Arab states abstained. The measure, spon- sored by The Netherlands, called on nations to enact adequate legal frameworks against in- terference with aircraft, and to pro secute hijackers U.S.S. "Kosher Cruiser", Has Proud Crew Jewish Ship Joins US Navy By Chaplain Bernard Frankel second U.S. Navy ship to bear' more than a few Jewish person- (Jewish Chaplain at U.S. Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan) A few weeks ago, I received a call from Pat Waite, the Catho- lic Chaplain and my colleague at the U.S. Navy Base at Yokosuka, Japan, in which he excitedly told me, "Bud, I met the captain of the Jewish ship which is in port now, and he would like you to pay him and the ship a visit tomorrow." "Do you mean an Israeli ship?", I replied. "No," he said, "This is an American ship with an American crew." This introduction led to my exciting and fascinating visit to the USS BRONSTEIN (DE 1037), one of the first of a new class of ocean destroyer escorts em- ployed by our Navy. It is the the name of LT.JG Ben Richard Bronstein, MC, USNR, who lost his life in action during World War II on board the USS JACOB JONES. The first Bronstein was commissioned in 1943, served with distinction during the re- mainder of the war, and was presented to Uruguay in 1952. As I went aboard the ship, bringing with me religious sup- plies received from the Commis- sion on Jewish Chaplaincy of the National Jewish Welfare Board, I was graciously received by LCDR Bonhag, the Bronstein's commanding officer. With much pride, he talked about his ship and its crew and then treated me to a tour of the ship. Even though there has never been nel on board ship, it has deve- loped the reputation of being the "Jewish ship." On its torpedo tubes, stored on deck, are emblazoned yellow Mogen Dovids. Its fueling pennat (used when the ship is stopped at sea to refuel) has a caricature of a yellow Buddha imposed upon a six-pointed star with the slogan, "What The Hell." Whenever the ship pulls alongside another ship, the melo- dy "Hava Negilah" is played through the ship's audio system from a tape kept on board. On deployment for eight months in the Far East and now heading back to homeport in Long Beach, Calif., the ship's crew had proudly named themselves, Seattle Treiger s sts" on rare i camel." (See iThe W, On stretchers (top) Israeli pilot Capt. Giora Rom and (bottom) pilot Major Nissim Ashkenazi, shown returning to Israel during the recent prisoner exchange with Egypt. Israel handed 6 prisoners of war, 3 dead soldiers and 52 suspected terrorists over to the Arabs in return for the 2 pilots. Prof. Shlomo Samueloff, sh 00:"The T The two captives from Damascus (TWA passengers), haggard and  unshaven came down the gangway of their plane (during the recent Israeli-Arab prisoner exchange) and tearfully embraced their wives T h e M and children. Then Prof. Samueloff, one of the captives turned to ' Premier Golda Meir and hugged her. Israel's leader reacted as a ] mother would, on finding a lost son. Foreign minister Abba Eban if  .... shown (top L) looking on .... the "Kosher Cruiser." Since theirs had been a rather unu- ?, sually long deployment with many delays and diversions, the crew had also begun to call themselves, "The Wandering Israelites." My impression was that this was no passing fancy, no joke, but a deeply ingrained tradition on this ship. It was such a pleas- ant experience to see the crew of one of our modern fighting ships take pleasure in being called the "Jewish ship." It seems rather symbolic of the inherent democ- racy of our men in the Navy that a whole ship crew, the great majority of the ship non-Jewish, should take great pride in being i-'7|ew of the Mogen identified in terms of Jewish the torpedo tubes stored on .symbolism. Only .!n America,? " ........... of.ISjS.Qr9,i .........