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February 19, 1988 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-19

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

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The Airline of Israel

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Recent Cases Prove
Syria's Anti-Semitism

LOTHAR KAHN

Special to The Jewish News

-

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Israel

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A

lthough the Syrian
government of Hafez
el Assad has steadily
claimed that it is not anti-
Semitic but merely anti-
Israel, its actions in the past
year have given the lie to
such claims. Many Jewish
observers have accepted the
idea that an anti-Israeli
stance by an Arab (or other)
government is not the same
as anti-Semitism. After all,
Israel and the Arab countries
are at war and anti-Israeli
rhetoric is bound to reflect
this fact.
Much anti-Israel propagan-
da under the label of anti-
Zionism has come perilously
close to crossing that delicate
line that separates anti-
Israeli positions from
generalized propaganda
Against Jews. No Arab
government, by omission or
commission, has been more
guilty of crossing this line
that that of Assad. The Mat-
zah of Zion Affair some time
ago and the Brunner case
more recently are telling ex-
amples of Syrian encourage-
ment of anti-Semitism.
The Matzah of Zion, a book
in Arabic first brought to
public attention by the Simon
Wiesenthal Center, was writ-
ten by no less a person than
General Mustafa Tlas, Syria's
minister of defense and a
known adviser to Assad
himself. Tlas's book is an un-
mistakably vicious attack on
Jews that deals with a long
discredited incident, known
in the history books as the
"Damascus Affair of 1840."
According to this charge of
ritual murder, some Jews of
Damascus ruthlessly
murdered a Capucin monk
who was allegedly seen enter-
ing a Jewish store. This monk
did, indeed, disappear from
view never to be heard from
again. There was no evidence
of murder and even less of
murder by a Jew. Never-
theless, as a result of political
intrigue that involved French
consular officials and some
Moslem leaders, nearly a
dozen Jews were arrested and
tortured.

Surely they would have
been executed as well had it
not been for the world-wide
furor caused by the reports of
torture and the courageous
journey to Alexandria of Sir
Moses Montefiore and the
leader of French Jewry, the
first Jewish statesman in

France, the jurist, Adolphe
Cremieux.
Although the French and
Turkish authorities were slow
to yield, they did eventually
absolve the Jews of all guilt in
the disappearance of the
monk. Prior to the Dreyfus
Case, the Damascus Affair
was the most intrigue-ridden
cause celebre involving Jews
in modern imes.
Mustafa Tlas reviewed the
old accusation and repeated
the legend that Jews drank
the blood of Christians for
Passover. Tlas indulged in
some of the most abrasively
insulting generalizations
about Jews and their suppos-
ed evil character.
Tlas's book was submitted
to French university
authorities as a PhD thesis.
The government of Chirac
proceeded cautiously, not
wishing to offend Jews on the
one hand or impugn the
French university system on
the other. Above all they ow-
ed Tlas, who had proven
himself helpful in negotiating
the release of Frehch
hostages in Lebanon.
More recently, the Alois
Brunner affair pointed a guil-
ty finger at the Assad regime
for overt anti-Semitism.
Eichmann's deputy, Brunner
was after the sentencing of
Klaus Barbie the leading
Nazi criminal still at large.
Brunner felt secure enough in
his Syrian exile to respond to
questions by a Western jour-
nalist with the most blatant
anti-Semitic remarks since
the Holocaust itself. Unlike
Eichmann, Barbie and
others, he did not deny, did
not denigrate his role in the
Nazi hierachy, did not "act on
orders from up high." No, said
Brunner, he did not feel guil-
ty. "All of them (Jews) deserv-
ed to the because they were
the devil's agents and human
garbage. I have no regrets and
would do it again."
This unregenerate Nazi and
executioner has enjoyed the
protection of the Syrian
government in exchange for
"services in security mat-
ters." Having spoken his
piece, Brunner hung up de-
fiantly to end his interview.
For the longest time Syria
denied that Brunner was liv-
ing on its soil.
Now that Brunner has
revealed the truth, Syria has
merely changed its story. Now
Assad's government claims
that Brunner, the slayer of
over 100,000 Jews, had com-
mitted no punishable crimes.
Syria is heavily guarding this
Nazi killer.

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