(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)
A detailed report on the situation of the Jews in Syria in connection with the disturbances there, has been submitted to the Palestine Zionist Executive by one of its members, Mr. Kalvarisky, who has just returned from an investigation tour in Syria.
In Beirut, Mr. Kalvarisky found that the position of the Jews was not adversely affected. The rebellion had not touched the capital of the Lebanon, the commerce of which profited to some extent from the movement of troops. Far from requiring assistance, the community of Beirut was at the time of Mr. Kalvarisky’s visit endeavoring to complete the construction of a synagogue and Jewish school, towards which two local philanthropists had contributed about Â£5,000, an amount which the community was seeking to supplement by another Â£1,000 or Â£1,500. Jewish refugees fleeing from Damascus after the bombardment in October 1925, were cared for by the community at Beirut until relief arrived from various Jewish communities in North and South America, from the Alliance Israelite and the B’nai Brith. Nearly all these refugees have returned to Damascus.
The condition of the Damascus Jews was very seriously impaired, especially of those 400-500 families, whose livelihood depended upon petty trading in the villages surrounding Damascus, and which, in consequence of the disturbances, could not be continued. There was a time when half the community required and received assistance. The Comite de Secours et de Bienfaisance received during the period under review over Â£9,000 and disbursed about Â£8,000. The remaining Â£1,000, it is thought, will suffice to satisfy the requirements of individuals still in urgent need of financial relief, as the end of the rebellion is now in sight. Although there may no longer be need for direct relief to individuals. Mr. Kalvarisky reports that a sum of Â£5,000 to Â£6,000 is needed for loans to petty merchants who have no other recourse. The effect of the economic depression upon the communal institutions was very grave, and at the time of Mr. Kalvarisky’s visit it was earnestly questioned whether it would be possible to reopen the two Jewish schools in Damascus supported by the Alliance with the aid of subventions from the Syrian Government and the local community.
The partition of the Aleppo district from Turkey and the high customs duties imposed by the Turkish authorities on goods from Syria has left its imprint upon the Jewish traders of Aleppo, although the city has withstood the vicissitudes of the rebellion. The position of the communal institutions is comparatively good, in spite of the methods pursued there which, especially in the elementary schools, are primitive.
Mr. Kalvarisky was chosen by the representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee to carry out this investigation on behalf both of this body and of the Palestine Zionist Executive which had also received numerous inquiries as to the position of the Jews in Syria.
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