Jews’ Condition Varies from Persecution to Freedom in Arab Lands, ‘post’ Reports

The condition of Jews in the Arab world varies from outright persecution in Syria and Iraq to full freedom, equality and respect in Morocco and Lebanon, the Washington Post reported today. A survey of the 3,000-mile Arab belt from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic by correspondent William Tuohy indicated however even where Jews are relatively well off, they are increasingly apprehensive because of the Arab-Israel conflict. In those Arab countries that permit emigration, the Jewish communities have decreased markedly in size and Jews continue to leave in large numbers, Mr. Tuohy said.

He reported that the plight of Jews is worst in Iraq where at least a dozen have been hanged during the past 12 months on charges of spying for Israel and the United States. “Iraq Jews are forbidden to travel. There are severe restrictions on Jewish businesses and bank loans. Jews may not enter the university. Mail and telephone calls are censored. Arrests are made without charges,” Mr. Tuohy reported. He said the Iraqi Jewish community, which once numbered 130,000, the largest in the Middle East, is now down to about 3,500. But virtually all of the emigration occurred prior to 1951 when the Iraqi authorities restricted the departure of Jews.

“In Syria the situation is similar because of restrictions placed on the 2.500 to 4.000 Jews remaining,” Mr. Tuohy wrote. He said diplomatic sources in Damascus contradict claims by Syrian authorities that there is no discrimination against Jews.

In Egypt, only about 1,000 Jews remain out of 80,000 who lived there 20 years ago. Male heads of families were jailed after the June, 1967 Six-Day War and about 90 are still imprisoned, Mr. Tuohy said. “Yet life for Jews in Egypt is better than in Iraq or Syria.”

Among the Middle East countries, conditions are best for 4,000 Jews remaining in Lebanon. “They have full rights along with the other citizens, Christian and Moslem,” Mr. Tuohy wrote. He said that according to one Jewish lawyer in Beirut, the only discrimination comes from American, British and French firms who are afraid to hire local Jewish executives.

Apart from Lebanon, the condition of Jews improves as the distance increases from the center of the Arab-Israel conflict. In Morocco, the 45,000 Jews remaining out of what was once a community of over 225,000 “are considered loyal subjects and they can–and do–hold public office,” Mr. Tuohy said. But Jews in Rabat told him that “our co-existence has been undeniably damaged by the State of Israel.”

According to the correspondent, moderate Arab Amplers deplore the wholesale departure of Jews which deprives their countries of some of their most valuable citizens–doctors, lawyers, technicians and merchants. In Algeria, the former Jewish community of 140,000 has dwindled to 2,000, not because of discrimination but because most Jews regarded themselves as Frenchmen and went to France when Algeria achieved independence in 1962.

Jews are leaving Tunisia, where they have been well treated, because of the collectivization policies of President Habib Bourguiba. “In Libya practically no Jews remain of the 35,000 who lived there in 1948. The country’s economy is said to have suffered because most of the import-export business was run by Jewish merchants,” Mr. Tuohy reported.

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