French Jewish Leaders Urge Remaining Jews in Lebanon to Leave That Country

The Representative Council of Major French Jewish Organizations (CRIF) urged Lebanon’s remaining Jewish community Wednesday to flee the country at the earliest possible moment to save their lives. Fewer than 100 Jews are believed to remain in Lebanon.

Roger Pinto, head of CRIF’s committee for imperiled Jewish communities, made his plea a day after a Shiite terrorist group in Lebanon announced the “execution” of another Jewish hostage, bringing to nine the number of Lebanese Jews kidnapped and murdered in less than two years.

The latest victim was identified by the killers as Yehoudah Benesti, 70, whose two sons, Ibrahim and Youssuf, were slain by the same group last year.

Pinto stressed that Lebanese Jews “belong to no community” as do Moslems and Christians, “have no militias of their own and do not enjoy the help or protection of any foreign powers.” According to Pinto, “They remain in Lebanon because they love their country,” but the time has come for them to flee.

Two Lebanese Jewish hostages are believed here to be still alive. They are Isaac Sasson, the former president of the Lebanese Jewish community, who was kidnapped on March 31, 1985; and Selim Jamous, the community’s former secretary, who was kidnapped from his office on August 14, 1984.

They are believed held by the same extremist terrorist group responsible for the murders of Jews, the self-styled “Organization of the Oppressed (Mustadafin) in the World.”

Meanwhile, French sources in contact with various factions in Lebanon believe the latest victim, Yehouda Benesti, was not murdered, as his captors claimed, because of his activities “on behalf of Israeli intelligence,” but died as a consequence of mistreatment and ill health.

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