Jewish artifacts disappear from Damascus in fog of Syria war

Youssef Jajati, a Jewish community leader in Syria, points out the Torah holy book preserved in a silver container in Joubar’s Synagogue which dates back to 718 BC. Artifacts removed from one of the oldest synagogues in the world have gone missing from the Syrian capital after neighborhood officials said they gave them to commanders of a rebel group who never returned them. (AP/Bassem Tellawi, File)
Updated 17 June 2018

Jewish artifacts disappear from Damascus in fog of Syria war

  • The main missing cache, they say, contained torahs written on gazelle leather as well as tapestries and chandeliers
  • Activists say the artifacts, moved from the now-destroyed Jobar Synagogue in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta suburb when it was taken by rebels

BEIRUT: Jewish artifacts, including ancient parchment torahs from one of the world’s oldest synagogues, have gone missing from the Syrian capital amid the tumult of ongoing civil war, with some precious items reportedly surfacing abroad.
Activists say the artifacts, moved from the now-destroyed Jobar Synagogue in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta suburb when it was taken by rebels, were allegedly put into safe keeping to avoid theft and damage in 2013, but twice since then local officials have discovered some are missing.
The main missing cache, they say, contained torahs written on gazelle leather as well as tapestries and chandeliers, and was given to a militia by a local council for safekeeping when rebels surrendered the neighborhood to government forces earlier this year. The armed group says it doesn’t have the items.


Egypt hosts talks over Libyan reconciliation process

Updated 30 September 2020

Egypt hosts talks over Libyan reconciliation process

  • The Red Sea coast city of Hurghada has been playing host to discussions over stabilizing a cease-fire in the country

CAIRO: Talks aimed at paving the way for a political and economic solution to the conflict in Libya have been taking place in Egypt.

The Red Sea coast city of Hurghada has been playing host to discussions over stabilizing a cease-fire in the country, securing oil fields and oil installations, and establishing government institutions and infrastructure.

Officials taking part in the security meeting are working to set up military committees in the east and west of Libya with a view to them forming a unified force for the country and reaching a comprehensive settlement based on the outcomes of January’s Berlin Conference and the resulting Cairo Declaration.

Political adviser to the speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives, Fathi Al-Marimi, said all Libyan forces were currently gearing up for a meeting in Geneva next month with talks on the selection of a new presidential council — which would consist of a president, two deputies, a prime minister and two deputies representing the regions of Cyrenaica, Fezzan, and Tripoli — and economic, military, and security issues going forward.

During the first half of October, Cairo will host the largest conference for the Libyan national reconciliation process with the participation of officials, tribal elders, and other representatives, to map out a comprehensive peace plan.

Hassan Al-Mabrouk, a member of the preparatory committee for the reconciliation conference, said: “The committee contacted many leaders from various Libyan regions, including Misrata, Tripoli, and all regions of the west, south, and east, and they expressed their willingness to participate in the reconciliation conference in Cairo in October.”

He added that the committee urged Libyan authorities, the international community, and all relevant organizations to help solve the Libyan crisis and preserve the unity and sovereignty of the country without external interference. This would include the removal of mercenaries and the disbanding of militias.

National reconciliation could only be achieved through the immediate release of prisoners and detainees, Al-Mabrouk said, along with the implementation and generalization of a general amnesty law issued by the Libyan Parliament, and the return of displaced people.

He added that social leaders, scholars, and imams had a religious and social duty to succeed in bringing the nation together in peace and that 10 years of war, blood, destruction, waste of wealth and hatred among Libyans should provide sufficient food for thought.

“Holding the conference before the Geneva meeting will contribute to creating an atmosphere for the political transition by representing all groups in the next stage,” he said.