Confirmation Sought That Syria May Have Lifted Restrictions on Jews

Information received here today indicated that Syria may have lifted some of the restrictions imposed on the 4500 Jews who live in that country. This may include freedom to travel inside Syria where Jews hitherto have been confined to ghettos in Damascus and other towns, but not to leave the country, sources here said. The Foreign Ministry and various agencies concerned with the condition of Jews in Arab countries are seeking confirmation and further information.

Reports from Paris and a dispatch published in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas yesterday said that the Syrian government has decided to permit Jews to travel, own property and work freely in Syria and otherwise enjoy the same privileges of other citizens. According to the paper, the decision was based on the findings of a high level committee named to examine the condition of the Jewish community.

Freedom to emigrate is not included, although sources here said that Syrian Jews would probably leave en masse if allowed to and that temporary “absorption centers” could be opened in Europe. About 300 Jewish women in Syria reportedly have requested exit visas because of the shortage of Jewish men of marriageable age. Emigration would provide their only chance to start a family.

Jewish Agency officials said today that the world-wide publicity given accounts of the condition of Jews in Syria may have prompted the Damascus regime to ease up on its restrictions. This is also viewed here as a step in coordination with the current Syrian-Egyptian peace offensive intended to promote an image of Arab moderation. Nevertheless, relatives of Jews in Syria are expected to increase their pressure on Syrian authorities through various channels to lift all restrictions on Jews including the denial of emigration.

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