Rally Calls on Syrian Government to End Persecution of Syrian Jews

About 70 persons, national Jewish leaders among them, gathered behind a symbolic prison fence at the Isaiah Wall facing the United Nations this morning to protest against the “imprisonment” of Syrian Jews. The demonstration, sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, called on the Damascus government to end the “persecution, repression and deprivation of Syrian Jews” and to permit them to emigrate.

Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the Presidents Conference, said the Isaiah Wall was chosen as the site of the protest because Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khadam is currently attending the UN General Assembly session. “We want Mr. Khadam to know that Americans of every race and religion are profoundly distressed that Syria’s Jewish community is being systematically destroyed by the Damascus regime,” Rabbi Miller said.

He read messages from Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY) and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Javits’ message declared, “This nation…must raise its voice to arouse the conscience of the world to the plight of Syrian Jewry and the dire necessity to relieve their pitiable condition. We cannot and must not remain silent.”

‘FIGHT WITH ALL OF OUR STRENGTH’

Clark, who said he had learned of the condition of Syrian Jews as a delegate to the International Conference for the Deliverance of Jews in the Middle East last summer, declared, “Until all Jews who wish to leave (Syria) are allowed to do so, until all Jews who wish to remain are allowed to live in full enjoyment of their civil rights, we must fight with all of our strength to let. Syrian Jewry know that they will never be alone.”

Another speaker, Mrs. Henry N. Rapaport, president of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, called the condition of Syria’s 4500 Jews an “intolerable and disgraceful situation.” She declared, “If Syria, because of the Arab-Israel conflict not ready to let them cross the border to Israel, there will be other countries ready to accept them. But they must be allowed to leave at once.” Appealing to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to intervene to free the Jews of Syria, Mrs. Rapaport said that “the present situation constituted a blemish on all mankind and the world must find a way to persuade the government of Syria to let these oppressed people go.”

B’NAI B’RITH APPEALS TO SYRIA’S MINISTER

In Washington, B’nai B’rith called on Syria to permit Jews to leave that country for more hospitable lands if it wants improved relations with the United States. Dr. William A. Wexler, honorary president of B’nai B’rith and chairman of its International Council, said in a letter to Khadam that most of the 4500 Jews in Syria “no longer see a Jewish future” there.

Yet, he said, not only have barriers been places in the way of their leaving but “restrictions on earning a livelihood are making survival within Syria increasingly difficult.” Wexler said a relaxed emigration policy would “eliminate a serious obstacle to improved relations with the governments of the world” and added that “if your government sincerely wants the good will of the American people it would be well to re-examine your policy on Jewish emigration,”

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