A Jewish man observes Syria from an Israeli army post guarded by UN peacekeepers (L) on Mount Bental in the Golan Heights.
(photo credit: THOMAS COEX / AFP)
Likud Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara, the acting minister of the Regional Cooperation Ministry, spoke with a Syrian Jewish leader who informed him that there has been a sharp drop in the numbers of Jews in two main cities in Syria.
Out of around 140 Jews who lived in Damascus, the capital, and the city of Aleppo, only about 50 remain, the unidentified Jewish leader told Kara on Tuesday.
In Aleppo, there are only eight women and no men.
Kara told The Jerusalem Post
in an interview on Wednesday that the Syrian Jews are reticent and scared of speaking freely, adding that he is one of the few people from Israel in touch with them.
The Syrian Jews
are interested in speaking with me, a Druse, he said, because they have close relations with the Druse community there, which also is under threat from Islamic State and other Islamists.
Most of the Jews in Syria are elderly and so it is difficult for them to flee, he said.
Some Jews have fled Damascus and others have been killed, continued Kara, adding that it was his aim to concentrate on saving the Jews, Druse, Christians and Kurds in Syria.
“Islamic State are the new Nazis,” asserted Kara.
Asked if some Jews are residing in Druse areas such as the city of Sweida near the Jordanian border, Kara responded that he could not talk about such details.
Questioned about Jews elsewhere in the region, the deputy minister claimed that the last known Jew in Lebanon was killed and that he had tried to convince him to leave, but to no avail.
In the city of Alexandria in Egypt, there are seven elderly women and in Cairo there is a similar situation.
In the Gulf state of Bahrain there are seven and in Yemen around 100, he said.
In Morocco, he estimated that there remain a few thousand Jews and a lesser amount in Tunisia and Algeria.
Asked about efforts to bring Jews from the Arab world to Israel, Kara said that there is interest in bringing Syrian and Yemenite Jews to Israel and that he had met with Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky about the matter.