Beirut’s Traditional Jewish Quarter Taken over by South Lebanon Refugees

About a dozen Jewish families are left in Beirut’s traditional Jewish quarter, Wadi Abu Jamil, now taken over by thousands of refugees from south Lebanon. The synagogue, which survived intact the bitter fighting of the 1975-76 civil war, has been taken over by the refugees and turned into a squatters’ home. The Alliance Israelite School. Ecole Tarrab, has become a first aid and refugee information center for many of the reported 160,000 refugees now in Beirut.

French reporters in the Lebanese capital reported that the remaining Jews are of modest condition and barely manage to survive under current difficult circumstances. Contrary to what happened during the civil war, when the PLO reportedly brought food to the area, the Palestinian organizations seem to take no interest whatever in what happens to the Jews of Wadi Abu Jamil.

The entire city has been taken over by the consecutive waves of refugees who have streamed into the north. The synagogue, which stood half abandoned, was one of the first buildings to be taken over by hundreds of squatters who now sleep and cook in the central worship hall.

The Lebanese forces, a French correspondent told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, have neither the means nor the time to deal with such “minor issues.” The correspondent added that as for as he managed to ascertain, there have been no anti-Jewish demonstrations or any quarrels between the local Jews and the arriving refugees.

According to one French correspondent, the remaining Jewish families and the Palestinian refugees who have settled in the area seem to be getting along in a peaceful and neighborly way. Most of Lebanon’s Jews fled the country at the time of the 1975-76 civil war, settling mainly in France. The French authorities continue to grant resident permits to those Lebanese Jews who now plan to join them.

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