Jewish Fundraiser to Support Syrian Children with Cancer

By Ford Prefect,

BASMA (Battling to Smile Again) is a Syrian, non-governmental and non-profit organization staffed by thousands of volunteers dedicated to helping young Syrian children fight cancer.

Syrians in North America will come together for an annual event on the 19th of April to raise money for BASMA.  The outpouring of support from Syrians and Lebanese from both the US and Canada has already exceeded all expectations and demonstrates our ability to unite for a worthy cause.

 But, while it is expected of Muslim and Christian Syrians to come together to raise money for the homeland, it will come as a surprise that the Syrian Sephardic Jewish community of Brooklyn has organized a parallel event, taking place today, the 6th of April.


There is a strong and proud Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York composed of Sephardic Jews – Jews of Arabic and Persian background with many of Syrian origin.  The Syrian Sephardic Jews are proud of their Syrian heritage and if one is to visit them in their homes, it will be impossible not to notice the overwhelming Syrian artifacts and memorabilia they enjoy and collect.

So while the Sephardic National Alliance wanted to attend the Syrian fundraiser on the 19th of April in order to help children, that date posed a problem for them. It is Passover Weekend. So the Sephardic National Alliance organized their own fund raising event in support of Syrian children with cancer. 

As I am typing these words on April 6th, the Sephardic National Alliance is gathering in Brooklyn. Imad Moutapha, the Syrian Ambassador to the US, is attending. I was given a flier advertising the event by one of my dear Jewish friends in Washington, DC. 

We Syrians, whether living abroad or in Syria, rarely hear positive stories such as this.  Most often we are compelled to find nourishment in the unsettling news of violence and animosity between Israelis and Arabs.

But, as this event demonstrates, Jews are peace loving and heritage-proud just as other Syrians. This event should help us to dispel the unfortunate stereotypes of Jews that are widespread among Syrians. It also reminds us how unfortunate Syria is that its Jewish community has departed in such unhappy and often painful circumstances.

So bravo and shalom Sephardic National Alliance; you have set a great example for us to follow.

Comments (65)

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51. SimoHurtta said:

What is the problem? Talk to Simo and have the Finns and the Arabs organize a well equipped hospital ship to go to Gaza. Israel won’t stop you. Instead of complaining, do something productive

AIG we in EU already pay most costs of Palestinians which under international law should be paid solely by Israel. We finance the hospitals, schools administration etc. You only bomb what we have build and take a lucrative share of the aid money by forcing the materials be bought from your excellent religious “democracy”.

Why should we finance a ship, that “ship” is your responsibility. And more importantly if there would a ship, Israel would not allow it into the harbour. Using those amusing normal excuses.

I have several times “spoken” with you and other IGs about the ûbermensch attitude you Israelis seem to suffering from. Like that rabbi some days ago said one Jew is worth over 1000 non-Jews. You really have the same attitude. Not shred of respect towards human life and suffering, if the life is not a “secular, atheist’s” Jewish life. Well AIG the history is a bitch, some day your “nation” might be again in the same position as the Palestinians now. As they have been so many times during ages. Some people and “nations” obviously do not learn that “what you give you get”.

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April 7th, 2008, 8:28 pm


52. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

There is a difference between between lack of knowledge and spewing outright contradictory statements.

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April 7th, 2008, 8:32 pm


53. Shai said:


You know my feelings about that. I’ve said plenty in recent weeks… unfortunately.

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April 7th, 2008, 8:36 pm


54. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why won’t Israel let the ship harbor? Of course it will. And of course your argument makes no sense. If as you say we Israelis do not care about human life, then it is imperative that you fund and send the ship since otherwise we won’t do it.

And Sim, since the Hamas came to power the Europeans have stopped spending money in Gaza. So you don’t need to worry about it being wasted.

History is a bitch. And very rarely is justice done. For example, what was the european payment for their colonialism? But at least with the creation of Israel an historical injustice was accounted for.

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April 7th, 2008, 8:42 pm


55. Shai said:


Was there a trip of the Brooklyn community to Syria a few years ago? I think it’s tremendous that Imad Moustapha has gone to see them for this event. I haven’t seen this reported in Israeli media yet… but it should make our headlines.

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April 7th, 2008, 8:50 pm


56. Alex said:


Imad probably went through more Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs than you did.

Syrian Jews always invite him to their events.

Ask your friends in Haaretz to report the charity event at Jack Avital’s

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April 7th, 2008, 9:36 pm


57. Shai said:


Yes, you’re most probably right! 🙂 And, good idea about Ha’aretz, though they may yet beat me to it.

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April 7th, 2008, 9:43 pm


58. Akbar Palace said:


Actually the moron stuff rolls off my shoulder…this is just the internet super highway and nothing more.

However, what caught my eye was Naji’s unprovoked comment:

…the current blight Israel is unto the nations…

I felt this sort of mindless rejectionism needed to be countered. All this rejectionist and intolerant banter such as “blight” and “disease” (Ahmadinejad) is what brings violence to the Middle East and prevents peaceful solutions.

IMHO, this is what you really should be correcting.

I don’t recall anyone here calling any Arab or Muslim nation here a “blight” or a “disease”.

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April 8th, 2008, 1:38 am


59. Alex said:


I agree with you that Naji’s words can easily give the wrong impression. But he obviously is not calling for violence against the people living in Israel. He is definitely not a fan of Zionism … and many others here hate Baathism.

Both sides can express their wishes to see one of these two political systems (ideologies) go to hell … as long as their words are chosen carefully in order not to imply hate towards people.

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April 8th, 2008, 5:12 am


60. Mazen said:

When a people insist on ripping another people from their land, from their history and from their lives, it is way beyond the innocent sounding notion of nationalism. Zionism is a colonial racist movement that is a shame to humanity just as many supremacist human experiments have been in the past. The one and only right Zionism has is that of might.

Zionists do not HAVE to inflict this level of violence, killing, and hatred upon their Arab neighbors. They just choose to.

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April 8th, 2008, 5:13 am


61. Shai said:


I wish we were beyond much of the pain and suffering the Palestinians are continuing to endure, so that I could begin to show you another side of Zionism. I understand, however, why you only see the side that you do. Please know, however, that most Israelis who are vehemently against our occupation and the crimes we’ve committed (and are committing) against the Palestinian people, and have been preaching against it for decades, still see themselves as Zionists. A very tiny minority of those, so-called “renounced” their Zionism, or call for its end. There are many, myself included, who see a different face of Zionism.

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April 8th, 2008, 7:01 am


62. Akbar Palace said:

Zionists do not HAVE to inflict this level of violence, killing, and hatred upon their Arab neighbors. They just choose to.


I agree, Israel does not “HAVE to” defend herself, but if you don’t want to consider why Israel defends herself, rather than ignoring the constant acts of war against her, then that is your choice.

For example, the “occupation” is and always was an excuse for Arab terrorism. Before Israel was in possession of the West Bank, Gaza or the Golan, Arab countries such as Eygpt and Syria were planning to eradicate Israel just like Iran is today. This is a fact.

Today it is Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran.

I would suggest you accept the notion that Israel has the right to defend herself from terrorist attacks and threats to her security as if Israel were any other country in the world.

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April 8th, 2008, 11:07 am


63. Mazen said:

Reading what you and a few other Israelis write, in line of acknowledging the mistakes and the crimes that your state has committed, lights a candle of hope for a true peace some day. Thank you.

Please don’t give me this “defending herself” treatment. I am not a gullible westerner who only hears about the conflict from minute-a-day biased news coverage. Israel has and still conducts state sponsored terrorism, only you don’t call it so, it’s “defense”.

Very very few Arabs are calling for the destruction of Israel in the sense of nuking it and eradicating all its people. Please stop using this cheap trick of comparing our rejection of Israel to the 19th and early 20th century European antisemitism.

What we cannot accept is your ideology of racism and apartheid that allows any Ukrainian to “return” to Palestine at will, while at the same time it bombs and kills Palestinians who have been living there for thousands of years. And anyone who fleds the hell you are putting them through, then forever they lose their right of return. It is this mentality that we would like to see gone.

When you are cured from this … way of thinking and looking at the so called Goyem, then you will find that Arabs can be good friends and good neighbors. If you continue to try to force your arrogance and racism down our thoughts, you are only going to make matters worse.

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April 8th, 2008, 2:19 pm


64. Alex said:

And this story is reported in Arabic by Syrian site All4Syria

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April 8th, 2008, 2:41 pm


65. al-shagoury said:

jews or whatever u r , syria will stay our homeland , with lot of nostalgia , thx

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January 17th, 2012, 5:17 pm


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