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U. N. Study for Geneva Parley Stresses Decline of Jews in Arab Lands

Studies on religious rights as well as on discriminations against Jews in various countries were prepared here for consideration by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights which opened its three-week session in Geneva today.

Reviewing the situation of the Jews in Arab countries, the reports establish that more than 36,000 Jews were expelled from Egypt, following the Cairo Government’s initiation of a discriminatory policy against native Jews after the outbreak of the Sinai-Suez hostilities in 1956. The reports also showed that in four of the “hard core” Arab states most hostile to Israel–Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq–there are today between 44,000 and 51,000 Jews. In three other anti-Israel “hard core” states–Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen–the report states there are no Jews at all.

Against the present maximum Jewish population in these seven Arab states, the statistics show that prior to the creation of Israel in 1948 these lands contained at least 291,345 Jews.

In regard to Egypt, official Egyptian statistics are cited, showing that at least 65,639 Jews lived in the country prior to the Suez-Sinai campaign. The official UN report then quotes the following statement, made in April 1958, by the World Union for Progressive Judaism: “The Jewish population of Egypt was estimated to be 29,000.”

The Syrian report to the UN gives official Government figures published in 1954, showing that the Jews in Syria at the time numbered 31,899, or eight-tenths percent of the country’s total population. However, the UN report also cites figures compiled by both the American Jewish Committee and the World Jewish Congress, variously giving the country’s Jewish population as ranging from a minimum of 3,000 to a maximum of 7,000.

A non-governmental survey quoted in the UN report on Syria declares that, in 1955, there were two Jewish schools in Damascus, capital of Syria, with a total enrollment of 290 pupils. In regard to those schools, the report notes that the curriculum is “almost exclusively Arabic, the teaching of Hebrew, including the Bible, being strictly prohibited.”

Iraq’s Jewish population is shown to have dwindled from 118,000 listed in the country’s 1947 census to between 4,000 and an estimated 9,000 enumerated by the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Yearbook and the World Union for Progressive Judaism between 1956 and 1957. Most of the Iraqi Jews are known to have emigrated to Israel.

Lebanon is credited in the report with having had 5,807 Jews during its last census in 1947-48. In Beirut, capital of Lebanon, the report states, there were as recently as 1957 three Jewish schools with a total enrollment of 1,640 pupils.

The UN report quotes the World Union for Progressive Judaism as stating “there are no Jews in Jordan.” The UN report dealing with Saudi Arabia quotes a non-governmental organization as declaring in 1956: “All the Jews formerly resident in Saudi Arabia emigrated in 1948 from Najran to Israel, or adopted Islam, and none may be introduced by foreign firms or governments in any capacity.”

The report on Yemen states: “Before the State of Israel was created, the Jews numbered between 60,000 and 70,000, but since then many have emigrated.” There is no mention of the fact that the exodus of Yemenite Jews was toward Israel.

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