Growing up with the noise, bombardment and death of the Lebanese Civil War, Edy Cohen saw his father kidnapped from the street in West Beirut. After nine months in captivity, 39 year-old Haim Cohen was executed by the Syrian secret police.
Timeline of the Jews in Lebanon
Following the Bar Kokhba Revolt against Rome in 132 CE, several Jewish communities were established in Lebanon by refugees from the Roman suppression of the rebellion.
Caliph Muawiya (642-680) establishes a Jewish community in Tripoli.
A Jewish community is founded in Sidon.
The Jewish Academy is established in Tyre.
Hostility between Maronite Christians and Druze communities in Deir al Qamar and surrounding areas catches Jews in the crossfire, and many of them leave, emigrating mostly to Hasbaya.
Jews from Italy, Greece, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Iran move to Beirut, expanding the community with an additional 5,000 members.
Jews prospered under the French Mandate of Lebanon, their freedom of religion protected by the 1926 Constitution of Lebanon.
After riots in Jerusalem, the Grant Mufti of Jerusalem is expelled. He settles in Lebanon, and his anti-British and anti-Zionist rhetoric begins to create tension between Lebanese Jews and non-Jews.
Fourteen Jews are killed in anti-Jewish riots in Tripoli.
Anti-Zionist demonstrations begin, and increase considerably after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The Alliance Israelite Universelle school in Beirut is blown up.
Beirut’s main synagogue is bombed. Lebanese opposition parties begin demanding that Jewish property be confiscated and that Jews be discharged from government positions.
The remaining two Jewish officers in the Lebanese Army are forcibly discharged by the Lebanese government.
Mass emigration in the midst of Lebanon’s first civil war reduces the Jewish population, once numbered at 20,000 prior to 1948, down to approximately 5,000.
In the wake of the Six Day War, another mass emigration occurs, leaving the Jewish population at approximately 2,000. Virtually all remaining Lebanese Jews now reside in Beirut.
The government restricts Lebanese Jews’ rights, forcing them to seek work permits and frequently denying them.
Fighting in the Muslim-Christian civil war also envelops the Jewish Quarter in Beirut, causing emigration of the majority of the remaining 2,000 Jews.
Hezbollah kidnaps several Lebanese Jews. Four of them are later found murdered.
Under 100 Jews remain in Lebanon, living in Beirut. Several synagogues are being renovated and restored as best as possible, as tourism projects.