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Monday, May 02, 2005 

Syria's Jews

It's commonly accepted that Syria's Jews were ethnically cleansed. They were forced out, threatened and attacked until their existence became impossible in Syria.


A Jewish house near Bab Sharqi in Damascus's Old City (by Annie).

But Bridgid Keenan reports that in the early 90s, following the Madrid Peace Conference, many Syrian Jews came under immense pressure to leave from US Jewish groups. They were promised $400-600 per month (the average wage in Syria is $150 per month) according to a Syrian Jewish community leader. Green cards and visas were facilitated by the US government.

It shocked the diplomatic community in Syria - including the US embassy!

Today there are less than a thousand Jews left in Syria. Most in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City, Damascus and Aleppo and Qamishli.

At night, I came accross a beautiful old house close to Bab Touma and I learned from a neighbour that it belonged to a Jewish family who had left the country and that it was still theirs; it was simply locked up.
Is it true that none of the Jewish property was confiscated ?

According to legend all Jewish property was stolen by successive Syrian governments. But as your story - and the photo - shows, Jewish houses remain untouched to this day.

The Jewish Quarter is in the Old City south of Bab Sharqi. Where exactly was the house you saw?

Nice. I suppose the purpose of U.S Jewish groups by offering such incentives was to use their alleged "expulsion" from Syria for purposes of propaganda. In fact, the same is often claimed about Lebanon's Jews. These accusations are totally untrue. 99% of Lebanese Jews refused to move to "Israel" despite numerous pressures by zionist organisations. They were happy with their standing in Lebanese society, had equal rights, the vote, a synagogue, schools, and successful businesses. When the war broke out, most of them left for the areas where Lebanese diaspora communities were concentrated. Very few if any moved to "Israel".

Jewish websites, like Jewish virtual library, claims that the once-vibrant Jewish community in Lebanon was forced out by anti-Semitism during the war. This is nothing but propaganda. Lebanese Jews left just like many Lebanese Christians and Muslims and Druze left during the war. They left because of the war, not because of anti-Semitism. In fact, the only time the Jewish community suffered losses was during the "ISRAELI" bombing of West Beirut.........

Why did greater proportions of Lebanon's Christian and Jewish communities flee during the civil war? Did they?

sasa, greater proportions of Christians and Jews did not leave. Greater NUMBERS of Christians left; the demographic balance was not all that much in favour of the Muslims back then as it is now. Also, the Jews left not because they were attacked (there were a larger number of Christians and Muslims slaughtered by militias than Jews) but because they were afraid that they would be held responsible for what "Israel" was doing, especially after 1982. Moreover, the Christian and Jewish communities in Lebanon have had higher income levels and more successful businesses, and therefore the ability to pack up and leave, whereas many Muslims were doomed to live under the bombs in Lebanon because of the lack of ability (financially) to make that move. That said, many Muslims DID move, some left with very little, some left with nothing. But the numbers were higher for Christians.

My parents are Arab-Jews and they are very proud of their origin. There is no race called Jews. They are as other people from Middle East who are Christian and Muslims. They go to Syria every two or three years from Venezuela. They speak Arabic and Hebrew, but their native language is Arabic and their culture too. We never were welcomed by the Jews Ashkenazi community in Venezuela because we are Middle Eastern and not European, plus they call us ARABO. It is amazing how we native Jews are being denigrated by other knowing that Ashkenazim are Aryan converted to Judaism, and all we know that the story about the lost tribe is not true.

Thank you very much for your message Mizrahi. It's good to hear from you. I agree, we are all Arab first, and Christian, Muslim or Jewish second. We are united by our race. I am very interested in Arab Christians and Jews because I really feel like not enough people in the West even know there is such a thing. Where do you live now?

Please email me, I'm very interested in hearing from you: lio119@yahoo.com

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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