THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
synagogues to count them.
Schools cannot teach Judaism and
Jews are not allowed to become
teachers. Jews are kept out of the
universities and are excluded
from any commerce that involves
import and export, despite the fact
that most Jewish families are
engaged in business usually as
shopkeepers and- merchants.
About two-thirds of the Jews
remaining in Syria live in the cap-
ital city of Damascus. There are
800 residing in Aleppo and small
clusters of Jews living in floras,
llama and elsewhere.
The conference in Paris, which
had been arranged several years
in advance, took place several
days before President Mitterrand
went on a state visit to Syria. Mit-
terrand, who is a proven friend of
both Israel and the Jewish people,
undertook to broach the subject
wth Syrian President Hafez As-
However, Avayou explained,
the original aim of the conference
was far less ambitious than politi-
cal lobbying at the highest level.
"Eveiybody has heard about the
problems of Soviet Jewry," he
says, "buteome people do not even
know that Syrian Jewry exists.
We just wanted to publicize their
plight and combat indifference."
"The problem is that people feel
that nothing can be done for
them," according to Amnon
Shamosh, an Israeli poet who was
born' in Aleppo. "Influencing
Asso.d is seen by some as an im-
possible task, thus any effort is
deemed 'doomed to failure. But
others feel that much can be done.
Assad is capable of mercy and
humanitarian gestures and the
fact that he went on French- tele-
vision during the conference to
explain his viewpoint about the
Jews of Syria shows that he does
care about his international , im-
Avayou agrees that . one of the
most important results of the
Paris conference was the clear
message that Assad is bothered by
the charges being levelled at him.
"The overwhelming resolve of the
conference was that we will not
rest until Syrian Jewry is permit-
ted to leave," he said.
For Avayou, Shamosh and all
the delegates in Paris, the most
moving moments were the eye
witness accounts by a young man
and a young woman about the
difficulties of life for a Jew in
Syria. with cloaks over their
heads to conceal. their identities
and thus protect their families in
Syria, they spoke of the fear that
prevails. A young girl recounted
the brutal murder of a pregnant
Jewess and her two children be-
cause she had refused her sexual
favors to an army officer. Rape
and sexual intimidation, al-
though not government policy,
are occasionally committed by the
Thus the urgent need to bring
the Jews out of Syria immediately
is clear. Following the conference
in Paris a World Committee for
Syrian Jewry was established
with both Jews and .non-Jews on
its panel. Moreover the message
will be broadcast worldwide.
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Friday, February 15, 1985