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Report No Significant Changes in Situation of Syrian Jewry

Despite continued international pressure on Syria to change its policies toward Syrian Jewry, there has been no significant improvement in the conditions of that Jewish community, Information Minister Aharon Yariv told the Knesset yesterday. The subject was discussed as the Knesset marked a week of “Solidarity with Syrian Jews” which included rallies in the three major cities, special classes and a mobile exhibition at Israeli schools.

Despite the continued gloomy reports from Syria, Yariv said that world pressure did produce some slight signs that persecution was relieved in some marginal matters. He praised the “astounding courage” of the Damascus Jewish community for its demonstration last year, which inspired large rallies in the West. Israelis will never rest while Jews languished abroad at the mercy of anti-Semites, Yariv said.

As he addressed the Knesset, hundreds of students gathered at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan around four coffins, representing symbolically the coffins of the four young Jewish women murdered in Syria a year ago. Four students–two boys and two girls–tied themselves to the coffin. They fasted throughout the day.

“We must ask ourselves whether we have done everything possible to rescue Syrian Jewry,” said the university’s rector, Prof. Menahem Zvi Kadari. Kadari suggested that Israel announce that she regards Syrian Jewry as prisoners of war and make their release a condition for second stage political negotiations with Syria. Students at the agricultural faculty in the Hebrew University began collecting signatures for a petition of solidarity to be sent to embassies in Israel abroad and to various international organizations.

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