The remaining small Jewish communities of Syria run the risk of disappearing completely due to the marginalization suffered as a consequence of the political situation since 1948. The Eli Cohen affair (1965,) the Six-Day War (1967,) and the Yom Kippur War (1973) made the Baathist authorities of the country consider definitively the Syrian Jews as suspected Zionists or Zionist sympathizers. Nevertheless, in Syrian popular perceptions, the view of the Jews and Judaism did not always coincide with the ideology and propaganda emanating from the regime. In fact it is very interesting to note how good memories of times past, about an erstwhile coexistence with members of the Jewish community, still survive among many Syrians, both Muslims and Christians, belonging to the so-called “urban middle class.” This paper evaluates some examples, in the forms of anecdotes, popular sayings and proverbs, dealing with the Jews, and popularized in Syrian colloquialisms, in order to reveal some of the popular views of Judaism and Jews within Syrian society.
Francisco Del Río Sánchez
Associate Professor in the Department of Semitic Languages at the University of Barcelona (Spain.)