Adonis Diaries

Lebanese Jews who immigrated…Short Stories. Part 1

Posted on: December 17, 2013

Short Stories of Lebanese Jews who immigrated…Part 1

Jews who lived in the Beirut block of Wadi Abu Jamil

A book by Nada Abdel Samad (Abridged translation from Arabic into English)

Story of Salim Merzahi and Mary Semmone.

Selim is an Iraqi Jew who fled to Lebanon in the 1950’s during late President Camil Cham3oun. Mary is a Christian who lived in Mazra3a (Beirut) with her brother Isber and mother.

Selim, Isbir and Mary ended up joining the Communist Party and the various syndicates related to their jobs and participated in mass demonstrations.

Selim married Mary in a subdued wedding ceremony as Mary converted to Judaism for the form. They had 4 daughters and a unique boys Marco, the “last of the grape“.

After Israel preemptive war of 1967 against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, The Jewish Agency in Lebanon and Cyprus facilitated the “transfer” of the Jews from Lebanon. The Jews who decided to immigrate to Israel as initial destination were lured by lavished package deals: Free tickets, free hotel stay in Cyprus, an tiny apartment, and promise to locating a job…

The deal was for the new immigrants to remain in Israel for at least 3 years, otherwise, they will have to repay all the initial expenses.

The Lebanese Internal Security knew all the details of the mass transfer and they were ordered to turn a blind eye. Most probably, it is of these Lebanese facilities that Israel viewed Lebanon as a pseudo-State and devastated Lebanon through 5 successive incursions to physically dominate Lebanon.

The new immigrants had to suffer the ignominy of being considered second class citizens for a long time, until the boys serve in the army and the girls marry Ashkenazim Jews.

The Jew from Lebanon knew that they were trading a “happy, comfortable, free, almost tax-free, abundant and inexpensive” life-style to stringent communities in Israel with high cost of living, small apartments, and high taxes to maintain a dominating army.

The Jews from Lebanon were coaxed into believing that they had no choices but to leave, lest they suffer another wave of persecutions, “terrorist activities” against Jewish institutions in Iraq, Egypt, Iran and Syria, and mostly planned and executed by Israel itself in order to force the Jews to immigrate to Israel.

Mary decided to immigrate to Israel in order to secure husbands to her daughters and a future to her son. She didn’t tell her communist members of her departure because by then the Communist Party considered Israel as an occupying force in Palestine.

(Mind you that the Soviet Union of Stalin was the first State to recognize Israel. Stalin was convinced that Israel will be the first communist State in the Middle-East. It turned out that Israel started a capitalist State and remained a liberal capitalist.)

Israel entered Beirut in 1982. Marco paid a visit to his home in Wadi Abu Jamil in a Jeep with two other soldiers and talked to his previous elderly neighbor “Aunt Hanne”.

Mary refrained from any kinds of correspondence with her dear friends in Lebanon, although she could send them letters via Cyprus where the Jewish Agency simply changed mailing envelops.

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December 2013

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