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June 20, 1975 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-06-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Escaped Syrian Jew Tells Tale of Terror

(Continued from Page 1)

the air that Nusseri was in-
terviewed with three Syrian
agents present.
The anonymous Syrian
also said that the show mis-
represented conditions in
the Jewish schools of Syria,
and that the two or three
Jewish businessmen in a
population of 4,500 Jews
who are allowed to leave
Syria periodically for busi-
ness reasons are never al-
lowed to take their families
with them.

He affirmed point-by-
point the restrictions on
Syrian Jews printed in the
Oct. 25, 1974 issue of The
Jewish News: that Syrian
Jews must carry special
identity cards with "Jew"
marked in red; that spe-
cial permission is needed
to travel ("even from one
street to the next in the
ghetto"); that evening
curfew exists each day
(and it changes according
to politics: sometimes 8
p.m., sometimes 10, some-
times 5 p.m.")

Also that Jews are prohi-
bited to work for the govern-
ment; a Jew's property is
confiscated when he dies;
and the teaching of Hebrew
is prohibited.
The Syrian said that Jew-
ish schools in Syria have
specially trained Moslem
teachers under the supervi-
sion of intelligence agents.
He said 50 percent of the
students are Palestinian
and Mostlem, and Jewish
history and Hebrew are not
permitted in the Jewish

schools. Students must go to
Christian high schools to
continue their education,
and Jews have not been per-
mitted in Syrian universi-
ties for several years.
The Syrian said, "I would
like to ask that man (Mike
Wallace, of CBS' "60 Min-
utes") if he would send his
children to a Jewish school
where a specially-trained
Moslem teaches Jewish chil-
dren about Jewish culture."

He said that after he
was released from prison
he spent three months in a
hospital and six months in
a convalescent home. "I
weighed 35-40 kilos (77-88

He paid a heavy bribe to
attend a university, but left
after six months because of
threats and physical abuse
from his classmates and
With the help of his fam-
ily he illegally set up a shop
in the name of an Arab out-
side the ghetto ; and pre-
tended to work for the Arab,
who he paid heavily for the
He said Jews who have
owned stores for years in
the ghetto can continue to
run them, but must pay ex-
orbitant taxes. Signs must
be posted that say the store
is Jewish-owned, and gov-
ernment workers and sol-
diers are not permitted to
shop in Jewish stores. Oth-
ers are discouraged. The
dwindling Jewish popula-
tion makes it difficult for a
Jewish shop owner to sur-
vive with only Jewish clien-
tele, he said.

JDL Official's Threat to Arafat
Not Serious His Attorney Says

NEW YORK — Russell
Kelner, a Jewish Defense
League official, really didn't
mean he would kill Yasir
Arafat when he made the
threat at a news conference
last November, according to
Kelner's attorney in Federal
Kelner, an office manager
for the JDL, was indicted
for "transmitting in inter-
state commerce" a threat to
assassinate Arafat and oth-
ers associated with him.
The interstate transmis-
sion charge resulted from
the fact that the press con-
ference, held on the eve of
Arafat's visit to the UN, was
filmed and broadcast over



Kelner's attorney, Hy-
man Dechter, told a fed-
eral jury that Kelner was a
"peaceful man." Dechter,
general counsel for the
JDL, told the jury, at the
outset of the trial, that he
would prove that "in-
flamatory statements
made by reporters pro-
voked responses in Kel-
ner" which led to his in-

Don D. Buchwald, assist-
A nt United States attorney,
told the jury that his princi-
pal proof would be the film
that was made and broad-
cast in New York. Accord-
ing, to Buchwald the film
will show "a gun in a hols-
ter" on the table in front of

Buchwald quoted Kelner,
who in the film reportedly
said, "We have people who
are trained. We'll make sure
Arafat will not leave here
The film was introduced
into evidence, but a projec-
tionist tore the film trying
to run it.

Hart, Griffin
Back Israel
Support Bill

gan Senators Philip Hart
and Robert P. Griffin were
* among 68 senators who ap-
proved an amendment by
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-
Wash.) to the Defense Pro-
curement Authorization
Act, renewing the Presi-
dent's authority to transfer
aircraft and related equip-
ment to Israel by loan or
Among those opposing
the amendment was Sen.
James Abourezk (D.-S.D.)
who call the amendment an-
other "blank check" allow-
ing Israel to maintain its
"obstinate position" of not
negotiating with the PLO.
Sen. Birch Bayh (D.-Ind.)
said the amendment
"complements" the May 21
letter signed by 76 senators
urging the President to con-
tinue support for Israel.

The Syrian added that
Palestinian and Syrian
soldiers roam the Jewish
ghetto, stealing goods and
raping women, with no
interference from the pol-
ice. He said Jews are
placed in jail daily, with-
out trial or formality, and
their families may never
find out what happened to
them. He said his family
learned that he was in jail
one year after he was ar-
rested. He was never tried,
or charged with a crime,
but was constantly told to
confess to trying to escape
to Israel.

After the Yom Kippur
War with Israel in 1973, the
Syrian's father was interro-
gated for two days by intel-
ligence agents, and not per-
mitted his daily medication.
The father died two days
Jews ate not permitted to
drive in Syria, he said, and
the only telephones in exist-
ence in the ghetto are those
that were installed many
year's ago. The man recog-
nized many of the people
and places shown on "60
Minutes," but was hesitant
to discuss many things for
fear of reprisals against his
He said Damascus was a
beautiful city, with 200,000
Jews after World War II. He
said the French left Syria in
1946 and then the repres-
sions began. Only 4,500
Jews remain in Syria.

* * *

Rabbi Rebukes
Wallace Errors
on Syrian Jews

Rabbi Joseph Harari, execu-
tive director of the Commit-
tee for the Rescue of Syrian
Jewry, charged that the re-
broadcast of Mike Wallace's
"60 Minutes" contained er-
roneous statements.
On the original broadcast,
Wallace said that four
young Jews were executed
for espionage. On the re-
broadcast, in an answer to
complaints, Wallace justi-
fied this by asserting that a
Syrian Jew had told him the
story, Rabbi Harari said. He
complained that this "is to-
tally fictitious," and added
"No Syrian Jew has ever
been convicted or executed
for espionage."
He accused Wallace of
"lending credibility to the
Syrian government's claim
that the Jews present the
threat of a possible fifth col-

He further rebuked Wal-
lace "because he caused a
man to falsely stand wit-
ness against his own peo-
ple. No Jew would justify
such a lie unless he was
forced to."

Rabbi Harari concluded
by asking Wallace why he
did not mention a truthful
and more recent incident in
which he said, "Last year
the secret police delivered to
the Damascus Jewish com-
munity the bodies of four
young women and two men
who were murdered as they
attempted to flee the coun-

Friday, June 20, 1975 9



The Syrian mentioned a
number of people and fam-
ilies he personally knew
who had disappeared; who
had been tortured. He de-
scribed the mutilation of
young girls with cigarettes
by Syrian interrogators.
He also displayed several
of his toenails which he
said were deformed by a
German using a pliers.



CALL BUS. MI 4-1930
RES. 642-6836

"People disappear every
day," he said. "Sometimes
you hear later they were in
prison. Sometimes you
never find out what hap-
pened to them."
The Syrian said there are
several synagogues still
open in Syria on major Jew-
ish holidays, but only two
are allowed open on the Sab-
bath. And at all times
Hebrew-speaking Syrian
agents are present.
He said a holy synagogue
believed to be 1,000 years
old still exists five miles
from the Damascus ghetto.
Named for the Prophet Eli-
jah, who is also a Moslem
prophet, the synagogue can
be visited by Jews after a
six-month to' one-year wait
for permission, while Mos-
lems can freely enter and
pray there.






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