4,000 Jews Reported Still in Syria; Are Subjected to Persecutions

A number of Syrian Jews were arrested late last week while trying to flee across the Syrian-Turkish border to escape the persecutions and discriminatory measures to which Syrian Jewry are being subjected, a French Jewish tourist reported today on his return from a three-month visit to that country.

The tourist, whose name was withheld and whose religion was not known to Syrian authorities, brought back with him a detailed eyewitness report on the sufferings of Syria’s 4,000 Jews. He said that a number of Jews were in the Damascus central jail, awaiting trial early in 1964 on a variety of charges, including “attempted illegal exit” and “Zionist leanings.” The tourist said he did not know how many Jews had been arrested on such charges.

The most painful discrimination to which Syrian Jewry was being subjected was a government ban on movement in Damascus without special “circulation permits,” he reported. Without those permits, he said, Jews are forced to live in the former Jewish quarter which, for all practical purposes, has been converted into a virtual ghetto.

In addition, the Jewish community has been hard hit financially. Most of the remaining Jews in Syria had been peddlers, but they are barred from such activity in Damascus, where 3,000 Jews live. The restrictions on peddling do not apply to the Jews in other cities. Some 800 live in Aleppo, and the rest are scattered in smaller centers, the traveler said.

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