Rabbi Joseph Harari, director of the Committee for the Rescue of Syrian Jewry, has sent a telegram to United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim urging him to investigate the murder of four Jewish women in Syria and “to alleviate the plight of the Jewish minority by calling upon the Syrian government to permit their departure.”
At the same time; Rabbi Harari charged that the reported arrest of two Jewish men along with two Moslems for the murder was an “apparent blood plot against the small Jewish community” which has maintained a clean record throughout its 3000-year history in Syria. The Associated Press and the New York Times reported over the weekend that a gang of smugglers had killed the women. The AP said that Syrian security men had arrested four members of the gang who were described as two Syrian Jews and two Syrian Moslem Arabs. According to the Times, a diplomat in Damascus said he believed the four women had been carrying valuables and were robbed by the smuggler-guides who killed them to avoid detection.
However, Rabbi Harari said the two Jews who were arrested are “respectable members of distinguished Jewish families” and were praised as “men of integrity by those who know them personally.” To believe that these two men “would go to a cave in the mountains to participate in the robbery and murder of four girls from their own community is an insult to the intelligence of the enlightened world and a slap in the face of justice and human decency,” Rabbi Harari said.
“The courage displayed by the oppressed Syrian Jews who organized a demonstration in the streets of Damascus to protest the murders despite police threats clearly indicates that the Syrian government cannot succeed in concealing the fact.”
Several news reports over the weekend reported the bodies of the women were found on the Lebanese border which they had been allegedly trying to cross in an attempt to flee Syria. The original report in the French daily Le Figaro, citing a “sure source” said the bodies were found on a street in the Jewish quarter of Damascus. Israeli sources refuse to rule out the possibility the slayings took place in Damascus.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.