LONDON (Dec. 18)
A first-hand account that depicted the remaining 4500 Jews in Syria as virtual prisoners in their own homes, harassed, degraded, Isolated and, in many cases, deprived of the means to earn a livelihood was given to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today by two Jews who recently succeeded in escaping from that country.
The informants, a man of 30 and a 24-year-old girl whose names were withheld to protect their families still in Syria, also identified seven Syrian Jews currently imprisoned without trial. They said that Albert Ella, the secretary of the Jewish community in Beirut, Lebanon, who was kidnapped by Syrian agents last year, is being held in a Damascus prison.
According to the witnesses, restrictions on Syrian Jews are imposed by “ordinances” to avoid legislative procedures. Under these ordinances, Syrian Jews are absolutely forbidden to leave the country. The ban includes Jews who hold French, Iranian or Italian passports. in addition, foreigners are forbidden to visit the Jewish quarters, Jews in the professions are forbidden to practice their calling, and the possessions of deceased Jews revert to the State.
According to the account, only two Jewish schools remain open in Damascus but their headmasters are Moslems who are members of the secret police Jewish religious instruction is at a low level and examinations are usually scheduled on Saturdays, The synagogues are controlled by the government and most of the ancient Jewish cemeteries in Damascus have been destroyed, Palestinians have been permitted to occupy former Jewish homes.
The situation, the informants said, has become even worse in Aleppo since Jews staged a public demonstration there five months ago. The Jews in custody without trial were identified as Nissim Katri, Joseph Swed, Itzhak Fax, Ousa Hasbani, Ouad Geradeh, Elie Suliman and Albert Kishik.