Monday, April 11, 2016

FT letter: Lebanese Jews were indeed targeted

A letter by one Massoud A Derhally denying that the Safra banking family had left Lebanon for Brazil because of persecution, and suggesting that Jews in Lebanon were never specifically targeted, has been rebutted in the Financial Times by Lyn Julius. Here is the full text of her letter.

The restored Maghen Avraham synagogue is no more than a monument to the demise of Lebanese pluralism
Sir, Massoud A Derhally (Letters, April 8) perpetuates the fiction that Lebanese Jews left as a result of sectarian strife. In 1948 Jews were arrested and interned as Zionist spies. Rioting and antisemitic incidents such as the 1950 bombing of the Beirut Alliance Israelite school, killing the principal, occurred throughout the 1950s and 1960s, culminating in the flight, in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, of 5, 800 Jews out of 6, 000. Hizbollah later kidnapped and executed 10 Jews.

Although the Jewish community — which dates back, not to the Spanish Inquisition, but to 1, 000 years before Islam — was one of 18 whose “rights” were protected under the Constitution, Jewish civil servants, and even Jewish soldiers who had fought for Lebanon, were dismissed. Jewish schools and synagogues were requisitioned to house Palestinian refugees.

The community did enjoy a temporary spike when Jews fled Syria and Iraq in the 1950s, but these Jews were denied Lebanese citizenship. By any definition, this is today an extinct community. The restored Maghen Abraham synagogue in Beirut, no more than a memorial to the demise of Lebanese pluralism, has yet to open. The few remaining Jews are too terrified to self-identify.

Some 800, 000 Jews were driven from Arab countries: it is disturbing that their history is being sanitised in order to absolve Arab countries from the crime of “ethnic cleansing”.

Yes indeed, Mr Derhally — Jews were specifically targeted.

Lyn Julius

Lyn Julius expands on these points in her Jerusalem Post blog

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