PARIS (Dec. 15)
A leftist pro-Arab French writer admitted here last night that there were 12 Jews under arrest in Syria for trying to leave that country. But he contended that they were caught with large quantities of foreign currency and would have been arrested in Israel or France had they tried to leave those countries illegally. Pierre Demeron who said he has visited Syria 15 times in the last few years, was a speaker at a meeting of the Franco-Arab Solidarity Committee. But some members of his audience disputed his contention that Syrian Jews lived under conditions “as good as can be expected under circumstances in the Middle East.”
Demeron said that on his last visit to Damascus he met with five of the Jews reportedly arrested. “Only seven of the 12 are actually in jail. Five, all women, are under house arrest in their homes,” he said. He said that according to what he heard in Damascus, the 12 were arrested while trying to leave the country in a car borrowed from a Syrian non-Jew. He claimed that the seven men, five women and a four-year-old boy were carrying large amounts of foreign currency.