Egypt’s Jews in New Exodus; Aided by French, Spanish Governments; 1800 Emigres Since 1967

Eighteen hundred Jews have been permitted to leave Egypt since the Six-Day War through the diplomatic intervention of the French and Spanish governments, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned. The 73 permitted to leave so far this year were the last Jewish prisoners in Egypt. All or virtually all left with French passports. Thirty-six non-prisoners also left this year. Last year, 137 prisoners and 357 others were granted visas. There are 900 to 1,000 Jews still in Egypt, it was reliably reported, with only six or eight of them and Chief Rabbi Haim Dueg choosing not to leave. Most of the 1,800 emigres over the past three years have already been resettled by United HIAS Service and other agencies in Western Europe, the United States, Canada and Latin America, it was also learned. The Nasser government, which was said to have allowed the emigration as a humanitarian and conciliatory gesture, reportedly sought no publicity on its action so as not to anger more militant Arab nations. The French government mediated the releases during the presidencies of Gen. Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou, neither of whom has been considered pro-Israel by Israelis.

The Jewish population in Egypt has dwindled from 70,000 after World War II to 14,000 in 1958, 2,700-2,800 in June, 1967, and now 900-1,000. There are believed to be less than 4.500 Jews in Syria and less than 2,500 in Iraq. Not only has their freedom in those lands been curtailed, but Iraq has publicly hanged Jews for no apparent reason other than their Jewishness. In Lebanon, where Jews have not met with repression, they have reportedly been emigrating constantly nevertheless in recent years. During that period, the Jewish population in Lebanon has dropped from 7,000 to 1,000 and its only rabbi has been thinking of leaving himself. The most recent wave of secret Jewish emigration from Egypt–80 inmates of Turah Prison, near Cairo–was affected by French Ambassador Francois Puaux during June 13-29, it was learned. The 80, said to be Egyptian citizens, were the last prisoners of the 400 arrested in June, 1967, and reportedly had to give up that citizenship in return for their freedom. The other 320 were released intermittently between June, 1967 and June, 1969. The American Joint Distribution Committee said almost a year after the Six-Day War that 800 Jews had left Egypt during that period and 23,400 from other Arab countries exclusive of Syria and Iraq. Elements of the study of the new Egyptian exodus have been reported sporadically by American and European news agencies during the past week.

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