The 2,000 year-old Jewish communities of Syria and Lebanon ( 30,000 and 14,000 in 1948) have always been intertwined, as has the history of the two countries. Here’s a timeline tracing their decline to less than 50 Jews in each country today.
19th century: an era of mass migration for Syrians of all faiths, driven by the 1860 Christian-Druze war and economic crises to move to Egypt and the New World.
1909: Young Jews leave to avoid Ottoman conscription law.
1917: exiles from Eretz Israel expose Jews to Zionism.
1918: Syrian and Lebanon under French mandate.
1930s: Anti-Jewish measures introduced, economy in crisis. 2,868 Jews move to Israel.
Nazi propaganda and incitement by the Mufti of Jerusalem spreads.
5, 286 Jews leave.
1945: 1,000 Jewish children go on aliya.
1945: Riots against Jews of Tripoli, Lebanon: 14 die. Temporary closure of Alliance Israelite School. End of French mandate.
1945: Syrian school curriculum becomes compulsory.
1947: Partition riots devastate Aleppo. All 18 synagogues, five schools, 150 shops, orphanage and youth club destroyed. Great synagogue of Aleppo badly damaged. Many Jews killed.
Jews cannot buy property. Hundreds arrested. Jews expelled from university of Beirut.
1949: Jewish bank accounts seized in Syria, property frozen, no freedom of movement.
1949: grenades thrown at al-Menashe synagogue, Damascus: 13 dead, 32 wounded.
1950: Jews of Qamishli banned from working in agriculture.
1950: Influx of provincial Jews to Beirut. 10,000 Jews move to Lebanon from Iraq and Syria. Only 5,700 remain in Syria.
1950: Syria passes a law seizing Jewish property. Palestinian refugees move into Jewish quarter of Damascus. Attacks on Jews in Damascus, Aleppo and Qamishli. Property and shops looted.
1951: Bomb explodes at Alliance Universelle Israelite school in Beirut. Jewish youth organisations banned. Civil servants sacked. Otherwise protected by Phalange militia and free to travel and do business.
1958 – 62: Jews can leave Syria on payment of a ransom. 2,800 Syrian Jews flee to Israel.
1962: Travel ban introduced.
1965: Arrest of Israeli spy Eli Cohen. Attacks increase.
1967: Anti-Jewish riots in Syria. Muslims control two Jewish schools. Travel ban. Jewish chemists and doctors sacked. Jewish jobs given to refugees from Golan Heights. 2,264 Jews go to Israel.
1967 – 70: Of 6,000 Jews in Lebanon, all but 2,000 leave.
1971: Wave of kidnappings. Albert Elia, community leader, abducted and murdered in Lebanon.
1973: following Yom Kippur War, Jewish homes in Syria have their telephone lines cut off, allowed no radios or postal links with outside world.
1974: four Syrian Jewish girls raped and murdered.
1975: rescue campaign for remaining Syrian Jews, including many single girls, initiated by Canadian Judy Feld Carr.
1978: 450 Jews left in Lebanon. Between 1979 and 1980, 30 Jews killed ( some estimates say 200) in civil war.
1992: President Assad allows 2,800 Jews to leave on tourist visas without assets.
1994: Jews allowed to leave with their assets. Syrian Chief Rabbi Abraham Hamra leaves for Israel.
1999: 60 Jews remain in Lebanon and between 50 and 100 in Syria.
From How Syria and Lebanon were totally emptied of their Jews by Yaron Harel, in La fin du judaisme en terres d’Islam by Shmuel Trigano.