Stranded in Aleppo: Syrians claiming to be Jews seek aid from Israel

"We are asking that the Israeli government does not abandon us, but helps us get out of here to another country... All my love and loyalty is to this religion [Judaism]."

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March 5, 2017 12:59
2 minute read.
People inspect a damaged site after airstrikes on the rebel held Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Alepp

People inspect a damaged site after airstrikes on the rebel held Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A family from war-torn Aleppo is appealing to the State of Israel for refuge, citing their Jewish heritage, Army Radio reported on Sunday.

“There is nobody who can help us to get out of this place,” said 30-year-old Razan (real name withheld) in an audio recording translated from Arabic into Hebrew and aired on the radio station. “We are asking that the Israeli government does not abandon us, but helps us get out of here to another country. I ask that the government demands from the entire world to do this. All my love and loyalty is to this religion [Judaism].”

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Razan’s younger brother, going by the name of Salah, contacted Army Radio with the family’s story, after having escaped to London a year and a half ago. He says their mother is Jewish and their father Muslim, and that he and his siblings had always considered themselves Jews.

“When I was a child my mother told me I am a Jew, and I understand that. Before the war I told everyone, everyone knows I’m Jewish, all the neighbors around me, but after the war I couldn’t say that because it’s very difficult,” Salah said, speaking in English.

“The [Israeli] government is a great government, and I don’t believe it will abandon a single Jew in the world,” Razan said.

“Every Jew knows that it won’t neglect them – because it’s the best country in the world.”

Salah also said that he wishes to move to Israel.

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Jewish Agency spokesman Avi Mayer told The Jerusalem Post: “We are looking into the matter in order to determine whether the information can be verified and will act accordingly.”

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority told the Post that it was not aware of this case and would require further details.

In 2015, an Israeli rescue operation was reported as the final evacuation of the last Jews left in Aleppo – the Halabi family.

According to Motti Kahana, who engineered the operation, there are no Jews left in Aleppo, aside from one member of the Halabi family, Linda, whose immigration to Israel was denied, citing her conversion to Islam – the source of a dispute between the Jewish Agency and Kahana.

The latter still sends kosher food to the woman, and maintains that though she signed conversion papers – which is required by Syrian law when marrying a Muslim – she did not really convert.

Kahana has been corresponding with Salah’s foster mother in London regarding his family’s case. But Kahana told the Post that he has yet to receive information verifying that the family is Jewish. He says that usually leaders of the close-knit Syrian community in Brooklyn are able to verify the Jewish heritage of Syrian Jews, but that in this case the family has not produced the necessary documentation.

“I would love to help them. If I could prove they were Jewish I would help them in a second, but I couldn’t prove it,” he said.

Experts say there are still some Jews remaining in other parts of Syria. Elizabeth Tzurkov, a Syria researcher at Israeli think tank the Forum for Regional Thinking, told Army Radio: “... a number of Syrians have approached me who are descendants of Jewish women, who converted to Islam or who did not convert, and inquired how they can move to Israel.”

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