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January 19, 1979 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-01-19

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

54 Friday, January 19, 1919


Two Detroi tersVisit a Hate-Filled Damascus

(Editor's note: Mr. and
Mrs. Marshall M. Miller
just completed a Middle
East tour. The following
account describes their
visit to Damascus, Syria.
Mrs. Miller is a member
of the board of the Union
of American Hebrew
Congregations and a past
president of the Sister-
hood of Temple Beth El.)
Syria is the least likely
place in the world today to
be rated a "tourist mecca";
at least not yet for Ameri-
cans, and certainly not for
Jews. Nevertheless, the
prospect of seeing Damas-
cus captured our imagina-
tion and it was for this rea-
son we joined with a group
on a Middle East tour.
We flew into Damascus
on Syrian Airways from
Cairo and this, in itself,
er members of
all non-Jews, the
.ying a Syrian plane
,iot represent the
tin eatening appearance it
did to us.
Egyptian Air no longer
could fly into Syria, but for
some unexplained reason,
Syrian Air could fly out of
Cairo. We had been
forewarned that schedules
on this air line were erratic
and this proved to be only
too true. What should have
been a short flight of only
357 miles, or 90 minutes,
turned into an exhausting
nine hour ordeal.


If we had any misgiv-
ings before, we were sure
this was a misadventure
when we arrived at the
modern Hotel Meridien
and discovered that our
visit coincided with the
infamous Arab Congress
which had been in the
planning for a year. We
were greeted with a huge
banner which an-
nounced in English and
Arabic: "The Arab
Peoples Conference is an
embodiment of the Arab
Nations' Unity and its
Inside the hotel a few
people were still up. It was
very late and we were
grateful to be assigned our
rooms which proved to be
surprisingly clean and com-
fortable. We were told the
next day that the guards
had forgotten the usual se-
curity check at which time
they open and inspect all
the baggage. We had an as-
tute tour director who con-
vinced them not to call us all
back down as it was so late.
That would have been the
fourth security check if it
had transpired.
In the morning from our
balcony we faced a military
installation and watched
Syrian soldiers drilling. We
watched with heavy hearts
thinking of them in combat
with Israeli boys.
downstairs we found the
elevators and the lobby
crammed with Arabs (al


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men of course) and the con-
ference was busily under-
way. There were represen-
tatives from all the Arab
states, the non-aligned na-
tions of Africa, and the Mus-
lims from every corner of
the world. Pakistan, India,
etc. There were two obser-
vers from the United States,
both black lawyers who had
been invited to attend.
In true Arab fashion, no
one could agree on the size
of the conference. Estimates _
ranged from 400 to 700
delegates, representing
30-40 nations.
The atmosphere was
not jovial as in most con-
ventions outside the con-
ference rooms. Instead it
was grim and intense and
charged with the hatred
it was promulgating. This
congress was called
primarily to issue severe
indictments against
Anwar El Sadat and the
detested "Zionist entity."
Tables were laden with
propaganda written in
Arabic, French and
English, and we helped our-
selves to the English ver-
sions, all vicious attacks on
Sadat and Israel. One had to
push against a wall of men
to move around the lobby or
to get to the elevators and
everywhere were signs and
posters, flags, and banners
proclaiming Arab unity.
We were used to seeing
"floor men" who patrolled
each floor of our Cairo hotel
and who greeted us cor-
dially everytime we walked
by, but in Damascus two or
more men patrolled the
floors of our hotel, hard
faced and grim, certainly
never friendly, and — al-
ways armed. We were very
much aware of our own iso-
lation, the only Jews in this
hostile environment- and it
was an awesome thought.
In spite of this we enjoyed
seeing Damascus. It is a fas-
cinating city, the oldest,
continuously inhabited city
in the world, 6,000 years
old; layered by one civiliza-
tion after another. It is an
exciting city of exotic mos-
ques and souks and bazaars
with all the odor and noise
and flavor unique to the
Arab world.
It was surprising to us
that we were able to
question several Syrians
about the Jews in their
country. Each one gave
us a "canned recitation"
on the brotherhood of all
Syrians; Jews, Chris-
tians, and. Arabs, and
painted glowing pictures
of them living together in
beautiful harmony. No
problems, we were as-
sured. Jews can go
everywhere. Yes, of
course, they can be in the
government. They have
money and shops.
We were assured over and
over, there is no problem!!
We asked Mohamed, our
guide, whether Syrians'
identity cards indicate their
religion. We were told that
hEid been abolished a long
time ago. Of course, he
added, identity cards for
Jews labeled them as Sy-
rian Jews.

We went with Mohamed
to the famed Hamadiyah
Bazaar and while there he
pointed to a shop and said
"This is a Jewish store." We
went in and saw two men
inside. Semitic features
being what they are it is dif-
ficult in this part of the
world to recognize a "Jewish
face." The younger of the
two men spoke a cultured
English which he informed
us he had learned at the
American University, in Be-
I asked him if he was
Jewish and there was a
moment of frozen silence.
Both men seemed stunned.
Then the younger man's
face turned red and he
bagan to shout: "Who told
you I was a Jew? I'm not a
Jew! I'm nothing! I don't be-
lieve in anything! Just to be
He was obviously ter-
rified and I told him his
friend Mohamed had told us
they were Jews. When he
saw Mohamed he calmed
down and said: "Yes, he is a
After that he admitted
his Jewishness, but we
were unnerved by his
agitation and obvious
fear. We asked how
things were for Syrian
Jews and with that we
were given the same can-
ned speech we had heard
before. No problems — all
is well — we live together
with Moslems.
"I have joy" he said loudly
but there was no joy in his
voice. His eyes were wild
and begged us not to believe
his words. His agitation and
his frantic assurances that
everything was fine with
the Jews haunted us long
after we left him and, in
fact, still does.
When we finally walked
away, Mohamed smiled and
said, "You see, I told you the
Jews have no problem
Back at the hotel we
again met the full impact of
Arab hatred as we read
fresh propaganda on the ta-
bles in the lobby. Offensive
cartoons were mixed in with
written material, all attack-
ing Sadat and the "Zionist
Entity" in the most scurril-
ous manner.
Outside a military band
alternately drummed or
played their National An-
them over and over
monotonously for hours.
The atmosphere was milit-
ant and the delegates
seemed consumed by their
hatred for their enemies
and their zeal for revenge.

Dr. M. Kellman .

Dr. Milton Kellman, an
osteopathic physician with
offices in Livonia, died Jan.
13 at age 53.
A native Detroiter, Dr.
Kellman was graduated
from the Chicago College of
Osteopathic Medicine in
1949. He was a member of
Cong. Shomrey Emunah.
He leaves his wife,
Sandra; three sons, Gary,
Adam and Edward; a
daughter, Lisa; and a sister,
Mrs. George (Billie) Stal-
lings of Florida.

Sara Herzog, Envoy's Kin,
Religious Women's Leader

Herzog, the widow of Is-
rael's late former Chief
Rabbi, Isaac Halevy Her-
zog, and the mother of
former Israeli Ambassador
to the United Nations,
Chaim Herzog, died Jan. 13.
She was 82.
founder and
president of the National
Religious Women's Organ-
ization, Mrs. Herzog, who
was also the mother of the
late Mr. Jacob Herzog, who
held various senior gov-
ernment posts including
that of minister to Wash-
ington between 1957 and
1960, was active in charita-
ble organizations and a
mental hospital in
She also was active in
establishing schools and
kindergartens. She re-
ceived honorary docto-
rates in philosophy from
the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan
University in Ramat Gan.
In 1966, she received the
Mother of the Year
Award from the Council


of Women's Organiza-

Born in Latvia, she
moved to Britain in 1908
when her father, Rabbi
Shmuel Hillman, was
named to head a Glasgow
congregation. Married in
1917, she moved with her
husband to Jerusalem in
1937, the year he was
elected chief rabbi of Israel.
He died in 1959.

Salomon Friederich Dies,
Led Alliance France-Israel

PARIS (JTA) — Salomon
Friederich, founder and di-
rector of the Alliance
France-Israel, died Jan. 11.
He was 58. Burial was in
Mr. Friederich helped set
up the de facto Alliance be-
fore the 1956 Sinai cam-
paign and had been active
since in both France and Is-
rael in advocating close ties
between the two countries.
A few days before his death,
Jacques Chaban-Delmas,
National Assembly
president and former pre-
mier, visited Mr. Friederich
in the hospital to personally
present him with the
French Legion of Honor.
Born in Rymanow, Po-
land, Mr. Friederich was
drafted in the Polish army,
managing to cross the Rus-
sian lines after the fall of

Warsaw in World War II.
Soviet officials deported
him to Siberia.

He settled in France in
1947 and became head of
the local Betar group. In
that post, he helped pro-
vide the Irgun with funds
and weapons and de-
veloped a personal
friendship with Irgun
leader Menahem Begin,
which lasted to his death.

In 1957, he organized the
Alliance committee which
at one time had 11 French
cabinet ministers and do-
zens' of senior officials
among its members. After
the Likud victory in Israel
in May 1977, he chose to
stay in France and had been
active recently in trying to
organize Begin's official
visit to France.

American Who Aided Israel
Buried With Military Honors

hero of Israel's war for inde-
pendence was buried with
full honors at the Haifa
military cemetery last
week. He was Wayne
Peake, an American non-
Jew who was one of the first
combat pilots in Israel's
fledgling air force in 1948.
Mr. Peake died in Los
Angeles at age 55 after a
long battle with cancer. In
compliance with his wishes,
his body was flown to Israel
for burial.
Mr. Peake, who was a
U.S. Air Force pilot during
World War II, was one of the
many American, British
and South African pilots,
Jewish and non-Jewish,
who volunteered to fight for
Israel. After the war, Peake
returned to the U.S. and
joined the Flying Tiger Air-
lines, an • international

cargo carrier.

He visited Israel again

in 1967, after the Six-Day
War. When he first fell ill
he asked Flying Tiger
boss William Gelford to
arrange for burial in Is-
rael. Gelford passed on
his request to Mordechai
Hod, director general of
El Al, who, like Defense
Minister Ezer Weizman,
is a former commander
of the Israel Air For

It was decided to give Mr.
Peake a military funeral of
the kind reserved for Is-
rael's war heroes.

Each of the major reli-
gious communities in Israel
has its own i ■ eligious court
of first instance and of ap-
peal. They decide on mat-
ters of personal status of
their members according to
their respective religious
law — Rabbinical (Jewish),
Shari'a (Moslem), Druze, or
one of the Christian codes.

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