Damascus, September 13 – Officials of President Basher Assad’s regime boasted today that prejudice-monitoring agencies in the country had recorded no verbal or physical assaults against Jews in the last 12 months, sparking hope that when the dwindling Jewish population of Syria disappears over the next several decades, local antisemitism will be a thing of the past.
Fewer than two dozen Jews remain in Syria, almost all of whom live in a small area of the capital, representing the remnant of a community that stretches back thousands of years. Brutal and discriminatory treatment by surrounding Arabs reached its peak during the decades immediately following the establishment of Israel, but in recent years the number of anti-Jewish incidents has dropped precipitously. Once the mostly elderly Jews of Syria die off, officials predict, the country will boast a more impressive set of statistics on antisemitic incidents than even the so-called liberal democracies of the West in perpetuity.
“We already look better than the ostensibly tolerant and open societies of Canada and Ireland,” bragged Minister of Minority Affairs Meqqem Safr. “We don’t have such things here. And by ‘such things’ I mean Jews. Official ‘encouragement’ of the Jews to leave has done wonders to reduce the incidence of antisemitism within our borders. This could serve as a useful model for other countries looking to put a serious dent in reports of antisemitic attacks.”
The statistics cover only incidents in which private citizens have been involved, and an internal ministry report specifically excluded official government actions from the data and analysis. “Tendentious misinterpretation of facts and terminology are a major concern,” explained Safr. “Actions by the government cannot be classified as antisemitic – that would be absurd. It would be like claiming some inherent connection between ‘honor killings’ and Islamic culture, or that anti-Zionism overlaps almost completely with antisemitism.”
He added that Jews targeted in antisemitic incidents outside Syria, even when such acts were perpetrated by Syrian nationals, are not included in the data. Thus, while Assad’s forces have supplied the antisemitic terrorist organization Hezbollah with weapons to be used against Jews, those actions lie outside the framework of the statistics, since Hezbollah targets Jews outside Syria.
Safr touted the Syrian approach as scalable to the entire region. “The Arab countries made a crude attempt in 1948 that, had it succeeded, would have resulted eventually in the elimination of all antisemitic interactions with Jews in the whole Levant,” he noted. “Another attempt was made in 1967, and again in 1973, but no serious effort has been possible since. But with Iran on its way to nuclear weapons capability, the day when everyday antisemitic interactions are gone from the Middle East forever draws forever closer.”
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