|Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:48 pm More info
|JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES
What happened to the Jewish Refugees Throughout Arab lands, 1948 Jewish populations have been decreased to next to nothing. To where did these Jewish refugees vanish? ...
The silent exodus of Jewish refugees from Muslim lands
Here is the trailer for the superb filmmaker Pierre Rehov's Silent Exodus. Silent Exodus was selected at the International Human Rights Film Festival of Paris in 2004 and presented at the UN Geneva Human Rights Annual Convention that same year.
Here is a summary of the film:
In 1948 nearly one million Jews lived in Arab lands. But In barely twenty years, they have become forgotten fugitives, expelled from their native lands, forgotten by history and where the victims themselves have hidden their fate under a cloak of silence.
A people whom legend have always associated with "wandering" many of these Jews from Arab lands had lived there for thousands of years and accepted their fate, through good times and bad times.
But 1948, the beginning of their exodus, also saw the birth of the State of Israel.
And, while the Arab armies were preparing to invade the young refugee-country, the survivors of the Shoah were piling up in rickety boats. Meanwhile a few hundred thousand Arabs from Palestine were getting ready to flee their homes, convinced that they would return as winners and conquerors.
Soon - by a terrible twist of fate they, as well, began to fill up refugee camps and passed on their refugee status to new generations.
The Jews, however, did not receive refugee status.
They had just rediscovered the land of their birthright.
And if they came from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq or from Yemen, if they had lost everything, even their relatives and their cemeteries, they were ready to rebuild their lives in the West and for many - in Israel - and try to forget their past.
Without ever asking for compensation or the right of return, or even wishing that their story be told...
And here also is an illuminating article on the subject by Magdi Cristiano Allam, "The Arabs Without the Jews: Roots of a Tragedy" (translated from Italian by Lyn and Lawrence Julius):
Israel is the keeper of a mutilated Arab identity, the repository for the guilty consciences of the Arab peoples, the living witness to a true history of the Arab countries, continuously denied, falsified and ignored.
Seeing Pierre Rehov's documentary film 'The Silent Exodus' about the expulsion and flight of a million Sephardi Jews helped me gain a better understanding of the tragedy of a community that was integral and fundamental to Arab society. Above all it has revealed to me the very essence of the catastrophe that befell it, a catastrophe which the mythical Arab nation has never once called into question. In a flash of insight I could see that the tragedy of the Jews and the catastrophe of the Arabs are two facets of the same coin. By expelling the Jews who were settled on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean centuries before they were arabised and islamised, the Arabs have in fact begun the lethal process of mutilating their own identity and despoiling their own history. By losing their Jews the Arabs have lost their roots and have ended up by losing themselves.
As has often happened in history, the Jews were the first victims of hatred and intolerance. All the "others" had their turn soon enough, specifically the Christians and other religious minorities, heretical and secular Muslims and finally, those Muslims who do not fit exactly into the ideological framework of the extreme nationalists and Islamists. There has not been a single instance in this murky period of our history when the Arab states have been ready to condemn the steady exodus of Christians, ethnic-religious minorities, enlightened and ordinary Muslims, while Muslims plain and simple have become the primary victims of Islamic terror.
Underlying the Arab 'malaise' is an identity crisis that neither Nasserist nor Ba'athist pan-Arabism, nor the Islamism of the Saudi Wahabis, the Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeini and Bin Laden has been able to solve. It's a contagious identity crisis, spreading to and taking hold of the Arab and Muslim communities in the West.
I remember that around the mid-1970s the Arab exam in civic education taken in both state and public schools in Egypt defined Arab identity thus: "the Arabs are a nation united by race, blood, history, geography, religion and destiny." This was a falsification of an historical truth based on ethno-religious pluralism, an ideological deception aimed at erasing all differences and promoting the theory of one race overlapping with a phantom Arab nation in thrall to unchallengeable leaders. It was directly inspired by Nazi and fascist theories of racial purity and supremacy which appealed to the leadership and ideologues of pan-Arabism and Islamism. It is no wonder that in this context Manichean Israel is perceived as a foreign body to be rejected, a cancer produced by American imperialism to divide and subjugate the Arab world.
The historical truth is that the Middle Eastern peoples, in spite of their arabisation and islamisation from the 7th century onward, continued to maintain a specific identity reflecting their indigenous and millenarian ethnic roots - cultural, linguistic, religious and national. The Berbers, for example, who constitute half the population of Morocco and a third of that of Algeria, have nothing or very little in common with the Bedouin tribes at the heart of Saudi or Jordanian society. When in 1979 Egypt was sidelined from the Arab League for signing a peace treaty with Israel President Sadat restored its Pharaonic Egyptian identity which he proudly contrasted with its Arabness. Here was an isolated but significant attempt to recapture an indigenous identity - advertising historical honesty and political liberation while saying 'enough is enough' to rampant lies and demagogy. Before the screening of the 'Silent Exodus' in the Congress Hall in Milan, a gentleman in his Seventies came up to me and said, in perfect Egyptian dialect: "I am a Jew from Alexandria. I have recently been in Tunisia and Algeria. I have to say that people there are not like us, they don't have the sense of irony that distinguishes us Egyptians." I smiled and replied that indeed, the Egyptians have a reputation as jokers. They are capable of laughing at anything, including themselves.
What struck me was the "us" - "us Egyptians": even if we were both Italian citizens, he a Jew and I a Muslim. It reminded me that just after the 1967 defeat, I discovered by complete accident that the girl I was in love with - we both were 15 - was Jewish. For me she was a girl like any other. But for the police who submitted me to intensive interrogation she was a 'spy for Israel' and I was her accomplice.
In fact 'the Silent Exodus' testifies that anti-Semitism and the pogroms against the Jews of the Middle East preceded the birth of the state of Israel and the advent of ideological pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism. It infers that hatred and violence against the Jews could originate in an ideological interpretation of the Koran and the life of the prophet Muhammed taken out of context.
It would be a mistake to generalise and not to take into account that for long periods coexistence was possible between the Muslims, Christians and Jews of the Middle East, at a time when in Europe the Catholic Inquisition was repressing the Jews and when the Nazi Holocaust was trying to exterminate them. In the same way, one cannot ignore Israel's responsibility together with Arab leaders in the emergence of the drama of millions of Palestinian refugees and the unresolved question of a Palestinian state.
The fact remains that of the million Jews who at the end of 1945 were an integral part of the Arab population, only 5,000 remain. These Arab Jews, expelled or who fled at a moment's notice, have become an integral part of the Israeli population. They continue to represent a human injustice and an historical tragedy. Above all, they are indicative of an Arab civil and identity catastrophe. That is why to recognise the wrongs committed towards the Arab Jews - as the maverick Libyan leader colonel Gaddafi has recently done - by objectively rediscovering their past and millenarian roots, by finding again their tolerant and plural history and by totally and sincerely reconciling themselves with themselves, the Arabs could free themselves from the ideological obscurantism which has relegated them to the most basic level of human development and has changed the region into the most problematic and confict-ridden on earth.
Roughly half of Israel's 5 million Jews are Jewish refugees from Arab countries or their descendants, and they received no humanitarian aid from the United Nations. To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay any compensation to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing their homelands. Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab compensation for Jewish refugees
IsraCast: MIDDLE EAST REFUGEES - PALESTINIAN & JEWISH Friday, March 14, 2008
Irwin Cotler: 'There In No Moral Or Legal Basis For The Demand That Palestinian Refugees Be Allowed To Return To State Of Israel' 'Some One Million Jewish Refugees Were Forced To Flee Arab Countries Compared With An Estimated 550,000 Palestinian Refugees'
'Arab League Decision To Reject Partition Plan Of 1947 And Declare War On Nascent Jewish State Was Responsible For Both Jewish & Palestinian Refugees'
In The House Of Ishmael: A history Of The Jews In Muslim Land, By Martin Gilbert, Independent - Robert Irwin - ‎Dec 2, 2010
‎ The paradox is that violent Arab racism and paranoia helped populate Israel. Gilbert has so much material and such a strong case that it should not have ...
Recognition for the Silent Jewish Refugees, The July 19, 2007 congressional hearing on Jewish refugees has an immediate, practical goal of providing US legislators with preliminary information before ...
The Jewish Refugees 1948-1972 In effect, then, a vertible exchange of populations took place between Arab and Jewish refugees. Though, while the Jewish refugees became full Israeli ...
The terror behind Iraq's Jewish exodus
Last Updated: 10:39AM BST 28 Apr 2003
"In Baghdad, there are only 30 Jews left. Thirty. You can count them."
...As he weeps, his wife gestures at the television set in the corner of the sitting-room, where they are constantly flicking between al-Jazeera, Sky and Fox.
"It's because we are watching this all the time," she says. "It came back." Their old life has invaded their clean London sitting-room, and all the memories of persecution in Baghdad are flooding back - "like a dream".
It wasn't always a hard life. In the 1920s, Baghdad was 40 per cent Jewish: Jews made up the largest single community in the city and controlled up to 95 per cent of business.
The first finance minister of the country - established after the First World War, when the British drew up new borders - was a Jew, as was the justice minister. And when the British imported King Faisal I to Iraq, in 1921, one of his first visits was to the leaders of the Jewish community.
As late as 1948, after Israel's war of independence, there were still about 150,000 to 180,000 Jews in Iraq. Now there are between 30 and 40 left in the entire country. In 50 years, one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world has all but vanished.
Within the borders of Iraq, of course, is the city of Babylon, where the Jews came after their first exile from Jerusalem in 587bc. Iraq is also the birthplace of Abraham. Islam arrived only when the Arabs invaded in ad641 - more than 1,000 years after the Jews had first settled.
... "In the first half of the 20th century," he says, "there was a sense in which Baghdad was a Jewish city: we were the educated, the middle classes."
[...] Sadly, what this couple remember is only an interlude: the persecution of the Jews had started 20 years before. In June 1941, there was the Farhud - or pogrom - during which "the mob wreaked havoc", recalls Kahtan.
"For two days, they killed Jews in the streets, kidnapped girls, raped them, killed them and mutilated the bodies. They burned property, looted houses - it's estimated that about 600 Jews were killed in those two days."
For Jews born later, such as the Edgware couple, the public hangings of Jewish teenagers in 1969 and the omnipresence of the secret police are fresher memories. But their insistence on the "nice life" of the past echoes a pattern set long before.
... In the Thirties, the rise of pan-Arab nationalism coincided with the second King Faisal's admiration of the Nazis.
By 1936, says Sylvia Kedourie, widow of the eminent Middle Eastern scholar Elie Kedourie, there were "episodes of Jews being killed in the streets that led to a growing sense of insecurity". Meanwhile, Zionism was on the rise, and though the Iraqi Jews were hardly Zionists, many Arabs began to see them as hostile, intent on conquering Arab territory.
The Nazi agenda crystallised Arab anti-semitism. On April 3, 1941, the rabidly pro-Nazi Rashid Ali, a former prime minister, with a group of similarly inclined politicians and army officers, staged a coup against Faisal II. Rashid Ali's aim was to root out British influence and ally Iraq with the Nazis.
His new "government" declared war on Britain, and was promptly defeated. On May 31, Rashid Ali fled. But his soldiers and policemen, inflamed by Nazi ideas, started the Farhud - aided by the Arab mob. Although the British Army was stationed outside Baghdad, it waited for two days before stopping the massacre: "They didn't want to wound Iraqi pride," says Kahtan.
"I was a very young child at the time, but certain things are imprinted on your mind. On the first day, the mob came to our door to do their business. The house was rented from a Muslim neighbour, of the old generation, and he came down with his rifle, shot in the air, and said: 'These people are under my protection; anyone who lifts a finger will be dead' - and he drove them off. [...] "When the whole question of the partition of Palestine came up," says Dr Zubaida, "all the Arab countries sent armies to Palestine, including Iraq. This generated a kind of hysteria, and then Jews who were prominent in public life started being sacked and students in higher education started being expelled."
Kahtan was 10 in 1948, when the state of Israel was declared. The son of his Muslim neighbour - the one who had saved his family - called him into his house.
"He was 19. He showed me a map and said: 'Today, seven armies are going to attack Israel, kill all the Jews and throw the survivors into the sea.' Now, that was the son - you see what a change of mentality had taken place. I'll leave it to your imagination to think what change of mentality has taken place between 1948 and now."
It doesn't take much. In 1949, a court of law falsely accused Safiq Adas, one of Iraq's most prominent Jewish businessmen, of selling arms to Israel. The charge was ridiculous: Adas sold scrap metal to Italy.
He protested his innocence and refused to pay the bribes that might have saved his life. Although he had some of the best lawyers in Iraq, his defence was not allowed to call witnesses. He was hanged in front of his house as his wife and children watched. His Muslim partner was never charged and continued the business.
This, Elie Kedourie has written, was the moment when the Jews realised the full extent of their vulnerability: they were no longer under the protection of the law and there was now little difference between the mob and Iraqi court justice. Everyone I spoke to mentioned Safiq Adas's "trial". [...]
His escape on a smuggler's boat, like all those in the 1960s and 70s, was organised by Israeli agents who mapped out the routes, paid the necessary bribes and met the refugees in Iran. "Israel was paying to save the Jews," Kahtan said. "I owe my life to the state of Israel."
After the Six-Day War, the Iraqi government took its revenge on the few thousand Jews left in Baghdad. The woman in Edgware recalls: "They started putting young people - youngsters of 16 years old - on trial, just because they were Jews.
"They would just catch them in the streets - whomever they could find - and take them to prison. Then they would torture them and put them on trial as spies.
"And they hanged them in the main square of Baghdad. People were dancing around the gallows there, dancing and celebrating, distributing sweets. 'What a big day, what a happy day', catching the Jews and hanging them."
AJR: Welcome to The Association of Jewish Refugees, Represents former German Jewish refugees and survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, London based, providing a claims office, monthly magazine for members.