Syrian Jews living in Syria & USA proud to be ‘Yehudi Arabi’

 

Jews in Syria are an integrated community. In our last September issue, you have Syrian Jews and Palestians speaking about co-habitation in Syria, while Syrian Jews living in the US confessing to feelings of pride stemming from the fact they are "Yehudi-Arabi". Photo by Carole al-Farah, Forward Magazine (Damascus, Syria)
Jews in Syria are an integrated community. In our last September issue, you have Syrian Jews and Palestians speaking about co-habitation in Syria, while Syrian Jews living in the US confessing to feelings of pride stemming from the fact they are “Yehudi-Arabi”. Photo by Carole al-Farah, Forward Magazine (Damascus, Syria)

Syrian Jews living in Syria and USA say they are proud to be ‘Arab Jews’


Damascus (October, 2009) – Syrian Jews living in Syria and the US told Syria’s leading monthly, Forward Magazine, their Arab roots are a source of identity and pride – amid speculations about the reality of Syrian Jews at the time when Turkish intermediation is taking place between Syria and Israel towards a possible peace scenario.

According to media analysts, Syrian Jews are seldom mentioned in the media, having distanced themselves from the Arab-Israeli conflict due to their natural integration into the Syrian society’s fabric. They do enjoy, contrary to misconception, full citizenship rights in Syria, with many Jewish Syrians refusing to relocate into Israel if a peace treaty takes place.

A peace scenario between Syria and Israel doesn’t mean Syrian Jews might leave their homeland Syria

 “We are Jews of Arab culture, and we are proud to be Yehudi Arabi (Arab Jews). It is in our veins,” Carlos Zarur, an Oriental Jewish researcher from Boulder, Colorado, told Forward Magazine. Like many third generation American-Syrian Jews, Zarur’s grandparents hail from both Damascus and Aleppo. He echoes similar sentiments by Jewish Syrians residing in Syria.

Abdulsalam Haykal, Syrian media entrepreneur and CEO/publisher of Forward Magazine, says the time is ripe to communicate to the world the reality of the Syrian Jews community. “They have synagogues, exercise religious freedoms, have a community leader whom we featured in our magazine, and are fully naturalized,” Haykal said.  “When we were children we used to accompany my grandfather for a weekly visit to his Jewish friend, Abu Jamil, a shop keeper in Old Damascus. Jewish, Muslim and Christian friendships are a natural part of Syrian life, no question marks raised.”

In their two articles – “Culturally Syrian, Religiously Jewish” and “He is not my enemy” – Brooke Anderson and Julian Weinberg, two of Forward Magazine’s senior writers, recounted how historians believed that Jews have inhabited Syria since before Roman times. According to legend, King David built the area’s first synagogue in Aleppo. Dura-Europos, a Greek colony on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, built in 300 BC, is considered to be the site of the earliest known Jewish Diaspora synagogue. The ruins can be visited on the road between Deir ez-Zor and Abu Kamal (which was bombed early this year by American war planes flying crossing from Iraq).

The report also shows that from 1919 until 1949, there was always a Jewish deputy in the Syrian parliament. To read the full text of the Jews-in-Syria report, you can visit www.fw-magazine.com:

 

 
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Syrian students banned from using supercomputer at KAUST University in Saudi Arabia

Syrian Students banned in KSA, Abdulsalam Haykal, Forward MagazineSyrian students denied academic access to IBM supercomputer at KAUST due to US sanctions

  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) honors US political restrictions over internationally-set academic freedoms and integrity

Damascus (October, 2009) –  The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the new world-class research university in Saudi Arabia, has denied 15 students access to cutting-edge technology inside its premises due to sanctions against Syria.

Accordingly, KAUST’s breakthrough IBM supercomputer, called Shaheen (Arabic for falcon), will be allowed for all students from all nationalities except for Syrians. The Shaheen, one of 14-systems around the world and the largest in Asia by far, will be off-limits to Syrian students and researchers in what can be seen as a breach of academic freedom.

In a scoop editorial by Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO and publisher of Forward Magazine in Syria, the writer revealed: “It’s a shame that the 15 Syrian KAUST students are not allowed to use the Shaheen. Why? American sanctions had to be observed in the agreement between KAUST and IBM. Syrian students were told that it was not a KAUST decision, rather one that related to the state of affairs between the US and Syria.”

Haykal continued to say, “KAUST is then forced to bend to politics, and act against academic freedom.”

KAUST breach of academic integrity comes from the fact the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on several occasions that, “[A university] can determine for itself on academic grounds, who may teach, what may be taught, how it should be taught, and who may be admitted to study.”

Forward Magazine, Syria’s leading English monthly and an offshoot of Haykal Media, announced early October it will be lobbying in US and Saudi circles arguing against such “unacceptable academic discrimination.”