The War in Lebanon Has Caused the Virtual Disintegration of the Jewish Community in That Country

Lebanon’s small Jewish community has virtually disintegrated as a result of internecine warfare in that country. Most of Beirut’s 2000 Jews have fled to European capitals or have taken refuge with Druze or Christian villagers in the countryside. Only the very old and very poor have been left behind in Beirut’s ancient Jewish quarter that has become a battlefield between Moslems and Christians.

That account of the fate of one of the last Jewish communities remaining in any Arab country of the Middle East was given by a Beirut Jew now in Europe. It was published today in Yediot Achronot. According to the account, the Jewish quarter remained for some time outside the zone of fighting in Beirut, and Jews lived relatively undisturbed under the joint protection of Moslems and Christians.

But as the civil war intensified between those two elements, the fighting spread into the Jewish streets. One 70-year-old member of the Jewish burial society was killed as he left the shelter of the synagogue but he was the only Jewish casualty as far as the informant knew, according to the report.

LOOTING OF JEWISH PROPERTY

As Jewish families fled the capital, there was some looting of Jewish property by Arab neighbors. In one case, a Moslem former employee of a Jewish family removed the family’s furniture piece by piece from their flat. The family did not protest because they wanted to reach the airport alive, the informant reported. He said the few Jews left behind in Beirut are without leadership without money to escape and face starvation.

The Beirut Jewish community was an ancient one, he said, and while it suffered its share of persecution, Jews generally lived in peace with their Moslem and Christian Arab neighbors. It appears now however, that the Jews who left Beirut will not return and the community has ceased to exist as such.

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