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December 06, 1991 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-12-06

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

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Syrian Jewish Plight
Is Topic At U.N.

United Nations (JTA) —
Israel brought the plight of
Syrian Jewry to the atten-
tion of the United Nations
this week, making the issue
the exclusive topic of its 15-
minute presentation Tues-
day to the General
Assembly's Social, Human-
itarian and Cultural Corn-
mittee.
"The situation of Syrian
Jewry has not improved at
all," despite repeated prom-
ises made by the Syrian
regime and entreaties made
by American and European
officials, Israeli represent-
ative Ilan Mor told the
panel.
Mr. Mor said the estimated
4,500 Jews remaining in
Syria are subject to
"continuous surveillance,
intimidation and
harassment" from the
Syrian secret police.
"Every time there is a
knock on the door, mothers
and fathers shake with fear
for their children," he told
the committee, which in-
cludes representatives from
all U.N. member nations.
The Jews of Syria have
been under tight travel re-
strictions since the forma-
tion of the modern Syrian
state in 1947. They are the
only Jewish community in
the Arab world that has
never been allowed to
emigrate and settle in Israel.
Mr. Mor testified that six
Jews are presently in prison
for attempting to leave
Syria: Eli and Salim Swed,
brothers who were arrested
after Eli visited Italy and
who recently staged an un-
precedented hunger strike in
prison; Rahmun Darwish
and Joseph Raful Sabato,
charged with trying to flee
Syria and detained without
trial since September 1990;
and Subhi and Sa'id Castica,
two brothers arrested, along
with their wives and two in-
fants, and imprisoned
without trial for attempting
to escape the country.
While Mr. Mor's presenta-
tion will not lead to any
General Assembly resolu-
tion, the speech places the
issue on the desks of foreign
ministries around the world,
which will receive copies of
the testimony from their
U.N. missions.
The human rights moni-
toring organization Amnes-
ty International has already
requested a copy of Mr.
Mor's speech, according to
an Israeli diplomat.
When the Syrian repre-
sentative, Bachar Jaafari,

was given an opportunity to
reply to Mr. Mor's charges,
he countered by alleging
Israeli human rights abuses
against both Arabs and Jews
from Arab lands. He even
cited Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Shamir's move to
shut Foreign Minister David
Levy out of the Madrid peace
conference as an example of
anti-Sephardic bias.
And just as Syrian Foreign
Minister Farouk al-Sharaa
did in Madrid, Mr. Jaafari
maintained that Jews enjoy
full equality in Syria. Those
in prison were jailed for con-
tacts with Israel, he claimed.
But unlike in past years,
the speeches preceding and
following Mr. Mor's did not
bring up Israel's treatment
of the Palestinians.
Instead, Portugal de-
nounced the slaughter in
East Timor, Pakistan pro-
tested Indian brutalities in
Kashmir, and Greece called
attention to the "illegal oc-
cupation" and "transfer of
residents" taking place in
Cyprus.
Israel's representative to
the U.N. committee, Asher
Naim, said the fact that
these speeches did not men-
tion the Palestinians is the
latest example of the
"normalization" of Israel's
position in the world body.

Issue Delays
Conference

New York (JTA) — A
major conference sponsored
by the International Red
Cross and Red Crescent
Movement was postponed
indefinitely, after the
Palestine Liberation Organ-
ization refused to yield to
American opposition to its
participation.
The conference, which had
been scheduled to open in
Budapest, is considered the
"parliament" of the Red
Cross movement.
While the United States
has consistently opposed
PLO participation in world
bodies, even as only an
observer, the Red Cross is
considered particularly sen-
sitive because of its respon-
sibility for implementing the
1949 Geneva Conventions.
In its announcement, the
International Red Cross and
Red Crescent explicitly
blamed the postponement on
the question of Palestinian
participation.
The United States had said
it would not participate
unless the PLO withdrew its
request for observer status.

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