Why helping Syrian refugees leaves me uneasy

 Helping Syrian refugees is the right thing to do, but the thought that they may be the descendants of those rioters who smashed up the synagogue in Aleppo and forced the great majority of Jews to flee in 1947 does not make Lynette Nusbacher feel any less uneasy. Read her blog in The Times of Israel (with thanks: Michelle):

 Courtyard of the Great synagogue in Aleppo, partly destroyed in 1947

As the kids made their posters for the
collection, I was not entirely happy. I was thinking about other Syrian
refugees. I was thinking in particular about the Jewish population of
Aleppo who were hounded out of their homes in 1947.

There had been a Jewish community in Aleppo
almost as long as there have been Jews (as long as, according to local
legend, the time when the locals drank milk from Abraham’s goats, giving
the city its name). In the 1490s, Aleppo had received large numbers of
Sephardic refugees from Spain and Portugal (whose descendants maintained
the tradition of a ninth Chanukkah candle to commemorate their
acceptance by the Aleppo community), but remarkably maintained a
separate synagogue service that preserved the pre-Sephardic rite of the

The Jews of Syria became increasingly
uncomfortable during and after the period of direct rule from Vichy and
later by the Free French. It is estimated that 4,500 Jews moved from the
ancient Syrian communities to British Palestine between 1942 and 1947.

The excuse for the organized mob violence in
1947 was the United Nations vote at Lake Success, New York, to partition
the western coastal strip of Palestine between a Jewish state and an
Arab state. It is very likely, however, that the pogrom was a deliberate
part of the “Arabization” policy that the Syrian state had been
pursuing over the year since the French evacuated the territory of their
expired Syria mandate. The pogrom in Aleppo may have been worse than
the one in Damascus because the ‘Alawis of Aleppo might have felt the
need to show themselves to be just as Arab as their more orthodox Muslim

A large proportion of Aleppo’s prewar Jewish
population of 10,000 fled the violence and destruction of communal
institutions and personal property. The remainder were effectively
internally displaced and ransomed by private Canadian funds over the
ensuing decades. The Assad regime ended the prohibition on Jewish
emigration in 1992 under pressure from the United States. By that time
very few remained.

Almost none of the refugees from Aleppo and
Damascus was resettled in Europe. The largest number were resettled in
Israel and the United States, with most of the remainder in Mexico,
Panama and Brazil. The one place in Europe where Syrian refugees found a
home in any numbers was among the Sephardic Jews of Manchester.

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One Comment

  • How we do know they have changed?

    Israe's first and foremost obligation is to the ingathering and survival of the Jewish people.

    A nation must preserve its national identity and territorial integrity or perish.

    We have seen multi-cultural Europe belatedly awaken to the fact the nation-state is still the basis of human life.

    Like or it or not, the different peoples of the earth won't be other than who they are in their national outlook and this will be true even in the Messianic Age.


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