Rabbi, Priest Appeal to Assad on Behalf of Two Syrian Jews Whose Trial Reopens Thursday

Two Belgian religious leaders, a chief rabbi and a Catholic priest have appealed to Syrian President Hafez Assad on behalf of the two young Jews whose trial reopens in Damascus Thursday. They are charged in connection with the murder earlier this year of four young Jewish women attempting to escape Syria.

In a telegram, Belgian Chief Rabbi Robert Dreyfuss appealed to the Syrian leader in the name of the Central Israelite Consistory of Belgium. He demanded that Assad “respond immediately to all those who have placed their hopes in his humanity and justice” regarding the fate of the two young Jewish men.

In a separate telegram, Monseigneur Georges de Jardin called on Assad to use his authority to see that the two are released. The Christian leader further urged that Syrian Jews be granted the freedoms they are entitled to under the convention of human rights to which Syria is a signatory. These freedoms include the right to emigrate.

The two young Jews were originally charged with murdering the young girls, but Syrian authorities have withdrawn the murder charge according to Israeli Supreme Court Judge Haim Cohen. Protests from world public opinion reportedly prompted the Syrian decision. The two are now charged with complicity to help the four women escape Syria illegally. If convicted, they face a possible five-year prison sentence.

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